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As a retired person who is only taking one class this semester, I have a lot of free time during the shelter in place. Many of the usual activities I do are not available during the shelter in place. All golf courses are closed, the volunteer opportunities I do are closed, even most of the places I want to do photography at are closed or not within the guidelines of the shelter in place. You can only watch so much TV, watch so much Netflix or read so many books.

Two new hobbies have been keeping me occupied though.

The first is glass fusing. Per the Bullseye Glass website, glass fusing is the process by which different forms and colors of glass are bonded through heat in a kiln. In practical terms, however, glass fusing represents a technological revolution in modern studio art.

Many hours are spent making the designs and firing them in the kiln. This expensive and time-consuming hobby started on a vacation my wife and I took in October 2019. During the vacation we visited my wife’s cousin in Goring by the Sea, England. Her partner, Jackie Whitnell, teaches glass fusion classes. Whitnell gave us a short class where we made a few pieces each. At the end of the class my wife remarked she wanted a kiln so we could do this at home.

I purchased a kiln for my wife for Christmas. The best place to put the kiln was in our garage, getting power to the kiln was the issue.  The kiln uses 240 volts and needs a 30 amp circuit.  We live in a condo, running power from the electrical panel to the garage was not easy due to the layout in the condo building, Our unit is on the second floor, the garage on the first but not under our unit but under another unit. This meant running the line through a tortuous path to get from the electrical panel to the garage. It took two electricians two days to run the line.

Once we got power we needed glass in various colors. Special glass is needed. Luckily, Bullseye Glass in Emeryville was having its annual sale, glass was 40% off. We purchased glass, frit (powered glass), confetti (pieces of glass), stringers and ribbons (thin rods) in a variety of colors and some molds and tools.

Then it was time to do some glass fusing.  The first thing I made was a coaster as they are small and easy to do.  After the initial project it was time to experiment. So far I made some coasters, hotplates, picture frames and other objects.  The latest is slumping wine bottles, making them flat to be used as a serving plate or a spoon rest. The glass fusing is opening up the creative side I didn’t know I had.  It is a rare day that the kiln is not in operation by myself, my wife or both of us.

The other task keeping me busy is going through our photos and selecting the best ones. As both my wife and I are amateur photographers and both have taken multiple photography cases at LPC, we have thousands of photos. The walls of our condo are so filled with photos, we ran out of wall space.

At a photography convention in February I saw a Canvas frame by Netgear. The Canvas is basically a high definition 19X29 inch digital frame. I fell in love with the frame and ordered one for my wife’s birthday in March. The frame arrived right before the shelter in place order.

Mounted the frame on the wall. Then we had to select which photos to display. Canvas holds 4 GB of jpg photos. It is hard to narrow down the thousands of photos to the few to be displayed on the Canvas.

Our last vacation alone I took over ten thousand photos, my wife a similar amount. Finding the best 50-60 is difficult as I like many of the photos. Even with 4 GB, the frame will fill up. A 4 GB drive holds about 2000 photos depending on the size of the photo. And I need to save room for some of my wife’s photos, they can’t all be mine.

I found some new hobbies to keep me busy during the shelter in place. These hobbies may not appeal to the average LPC student but they work for me.

I also continue to write stories for The Express during my free time.

Alan Lewis is the photo editor of The Express. Follow him @alolewis1.

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