June 24, 2009
If so, that’s not a good thing. Halos are stress in kilnformed glass when viewed through polarizing film & if your halos have rainbows you have a lot of stress ~ meaning the glass is likely to break! I just opened my kiln with the first load of cast glasswork (in commercial molds) using the new annealing temperature announced by Bullseye during BeCon, the glass conference I attended last week. For my entire kilnforming career I’ve used 960º as the anneal soak, as taught by Lani McGregor at my very first glass fusing class at Bullseye many moons ago. The new anneal soak temperature, 900º is closer to the strain point which equals less risk and a more efficient anneal cool. Ideally, you have multiple thermocouples in your kiln to check temps at critical points in relation to the glass, but I don’t want to get too technical here…
I couldn’t wait to check the results using a polarizing filter comparing the new & old temperatures. Monday evening I loaded my kiln with a few Colour de Verre boxes filled with frit and powdered glass. To have an exact replica of a box I’d already made for my test, I used Erbium pink course frit in the kidney shaped box. Today, Wednesday, I pulled out the lid and placed it between sheets of polarizing film alongside my very first Erbium pink lid. Please note the irregular edge of that first lid ~ it’s to show you how imperfect I am! As careful as I’ve been with my film, I notice all the scratches on it, however I want you to focus on the glass atop the film.
So looking at the top photo, the lid on the left, my very first, and comparing it to the lid on the right from this morning you notice three times as many halos or whitish spots on the left! I will be readjusting ALL my firing schedules!! All the glasswork annealed properly at 960º is still good, durable, and safe from breakage, but as you can see, 900º is better. For me as an artist, and for you as a patron of my work, a student learning from me, or an associate with whom I trade information 900º is the anneal soak temperature to use! If interested, you can view Bullseye‘s new annealing chart for thick slabs here.
For a little color I also checked a couple boxes of differing colors, then wanted to compare the same shape box. Interesting, yes?
June 21, 2009
It’s good to be home!
Have been at the Becon Glass conference at Portland State University for the last few days. It was an exhilarating experience and as a result I can’t wait to get some small sculptural pieces into my kilns! The big news, causing the audience to audibly gasp, was annealing tempuratures have been revised down to 900ºF. This is exciting news for kilncasters because it shortens the length of time necessary for the project to remain in the kiln cooling. Simplified, proper annealing is necessary to produce a stress-free glass sculpture that won’t break. A thick sculpture may remain in the kiln cooling for days instead of weeks with this new development!
Will now be in the studio for a while……
June 14, 2009
My little neice & I love searching for flower fairies together. You can see part of our story at Fired Glass Portraits. It’s a constant search, watching and waiting for the right moment when a fairy might pop out of an opening flower bud. Or running to the movement of tall grasses only to find it wasn’t a fairy passing through but our cat who’s also hoping to find an elusive fairy.
We thought if we’d pretend to be fairies, they’d want to find US and come out to play. While searching, we surmised if we could spot one there’d likely be a colony nearby. Then came the brilliant idea we might be able to attract them if we had a resident fairy. This is how the creation of my Garden Fairies came about.
They adorn your shrubs and trees, trellises and plant supports. Some are smiling, some are pouting, and they all have sparkly dichroic eyes. Their wings might glow in the dark or have patterned accents. They usually have a ‘friend’ on their skirttails riding along. They wear colorful costumes and have done up their hair as best they can, considering they might be swaying in the wind, getting rained on, or soaking in too much sun. Like us, sometimes a ‘stray hair’ drifts off their heads!
Each is unique and I love making them…..for my garden, for your garden, for everyone who needs a fairy in their garden! Arms wide open, they are ready for fun & hoping to find their way to a garden near you! You can find a few at the Art in the Garden show through June 30th; and at my on-line SteiderStudios shop (yes, that was a commercial plug)!
They can also hang on the wall, if you are not one who takes a daily garden stroll. I’m an avid gardener, so rain or shine I wander through my garden if not daily, as often as possible. It’s my sanctuary where my spirit is soothed and my joy is restored. I rearrange my plants the way others rearrange their furniture. You can read more about my garden at An Artists Garden. I just started it to share my garden and inspiration with my friends.
Do you have a garden fairy? I’d love to hear where it lives & how you found it!
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June 9, 2009
Who has the prettiest powder room of all? Mine is all about Hearts & Flowers. Heavy on the hearts. I do love hearts and don’t care if others think they’re sappy or corny ~ they express what you want to say when mere words aren’t enough. When I hand you a heart shaped object, I’m giving you my heart. I’ve always drawn & collected them & cherish those given to me.
Each heart shape in the mirror was hand cut & arranged until I liked the color transitions, shape placement and overall look. The glass shop guy who cut the mirror for my heart frame still tells me that this was the most creative mirror frame he’s ever seen! Unsure how to hang it, he suggested we drill holes into the mirror & screw it directly onto the wall, so that’s what I did. The screws are covered with mirrored ‘rosettes’ – one at the bottom & two at the top.
An avid gardener, I also love flowers. And the birds that come along to eat the seeds and drink the nectar. So, instead of cropping to show you just the mirror, I left in the goldfinch I did with pastels a few years ago. The wall pocket is filled with an assortment of fresh cut flowers from my garden. The blue hearts within hearts was a gift for my husband one Valentine Day.
In case anyone’s wondering about my wall treatment. It’s 2 shades each of pink, purple, turquoise, yellow, and spring green sponge painted on. Yes, it took FOREVER to do, but I wanted it to remind me of a field of flowers. And so it does. You can see the corner of a wall-hanging from my former life as a fiber artist in the mirror’s reflection, depicting a field of flowers.
Also in the reflection, you can see my curio cabinet filled with treasures I’ve collected, mostly from friends & mentors, but plenty of other things near to my heart. Rather than strain your eyes, here it is. Difficult to see details through the sliding doors, so one door open, one door not:
I made all the hearts, mostly as gifts for my husband, including kilncarved (top left), cast (lowest shelf center, mostly obscured from the doors), tacked and fully fused as well as hand sculpted hearts from glass paste. You can see vases from Fields and Fields, Alex Farnham, a horse from Newy Fagan, a leaf from Deb Williams, and an assortment of ‘memories’… The cast piece on the lowest shelf, suggesting a tree trunk with arms reaching out was made for an art show at Columbia Art Gallery a couple years ago reflecting death & dying. Not a dark or depressing statement, but free and released from worldly pain. The story behind it & how I made it will have to be a future post.
June 7, 2009
Thanks to my life long friend, Paula, for suggesting I include a couple pieces from the architectural side of my work. This is my main bathroom, for which I spent one summer making the tiles and mirror. Due to the size of the tiles, 9″ x 12″, I could only fire four at a time in two kilns. The installation is comprised of 79 tiles that are each three layers of glass. The color choices reflect my surroundings in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia River Gorge, with a small square of purple dichroic glass dancing through the design for sparkle.
It’s difficult to see the detail in the photo above, because my bathroom is so small that it’s impossible to get a good photo of the entire installation! You can see only a portion of the tiles through the mirror & shower doors. The combined tiles are designed ‘bargello’ style, all fitting together in a rhythmic pattern that make me smile during each and every shower.
The mirror reflects the color and quilt-like style, but for variation on the theme, I simply made 1″ squares & placed them in gradated colors. My kiln wouldn’t accomodate the size I needed, so I made it in two parts, connected at the top and bottom with separate 3″ x 4″ tiles.
I had my original drawing for the installer to view as he installed, taped to a nearby wall. I also had the tiles numbered according to where they went. Then to make it easier for him, I drew it out on a large grid and taped the grid to the wall next to the installation. Don’t you know he put in one wall backwards! I won’t go into the details of my angst and subsequent conversations with the installer, but have learned to live with it. Fortunately it’s the back wall and not evident to anyone other than the designer. Below is the layout just after installation (minus the bottom row), each of three walls photographed separately & photoshopped together into a flat plane.