September 19, 2009
I’ve been playing with pastels since high school. I love using them and was always on the lookout for a way to get the feel of pastels into fiber or glass. With fiber, you can saturate cloth with thinned acrylic paint, then draw into it with pastels and the pigment becomes embedded into the cloth. With glass, it was close to impossible until a few years ago to get this effect.
If you’ve taken my ‘Exploring Glass Powders’ class, you know I try to fit a lot into one day. There’s precious little time to really explore any of the avenues possible, other than trying everything we can and then playing further with each application after you’re back in your own studio.
I want to share my tests from one of my favorite products from two companies, Underglaze Crayons and Glassline Chalks. A shameless plug as I sell the Underglaze Crayons in my Artfire shop and Glassline has given their chalks to my students at the Glass Craft & Bead Expo!
Both products work like pastels on a toothy, or rough surface. The usual surface treatment for glass is sandblasting it to get a rough surface, but what if you don’t have a sandblaster? Powdered glass! Sift a thin layer of clear powder over the entire surface of your sheet glass substrate, then tack fuse. In my Paragon kiln I fire to 1325º and hold for 10 minutes to achieve a toothy surface. In my Skutt kiln I fire to 1300 and hold 10 minutes. When the glass is cool I can start drawing on the now roughened surface.
You can use clear, white, or any colored sheet glass as your canvas. To get the toothy surface without a blaster, you can use clear, white, or any color of powder fired on for texture. Once you have your ‘canvas’ readied it’s time to play with these fun chalks.
As you know before I begin a project I do a series of tests. I use the smallest size glass possible that will let me put as much information as possible on each test. For me, this is a two inch surface. I’ve pre-fired a dozen small clear ‘canvases’ with clear powder and am now ready to play. These photos show my tests of the colors as well as differences (none noted other than color choices) between Glassline Chalks and Underglaze Crayons. I also wanted to explore how they look clear-capped compared to fired on the top surface of glass.
I applied water with a paintbrush to see if I could get the same watercolor effects that you can with pastels. I also wanted to know if there’d be any chemical reactions between the pigments & glass like there is with certain colors of glass. Also, how does it look clear capped; clear capped with irid; or left alone & fired on top of the glass. I always test with clear, white, and black bases to learn how any given experiment will look against a light and dark background. The clear is to audition the surface treatment against any other color of sheet glass.
My results after firing:
No chemical reaction atop French Vanilla.
The sandblasted substrate has a smoother line than the tack fused powder substrate.
Colors are difficult to see on a black background.
If the pigment is on the surface of the glass, the excess will wipe off like mica does.
I like clear capping with iridescent glass, irid side down.
You can tack fuse (not shown).
I like the watercolor effects.
Both products fired the same for me in my kilns; each set of products has different colors; and not enough colors available in either product!
Have you played with these chalks? What do you think of them? If not, give them a try – another shameless plug, please buy Underglaze Crayons from me! Make a play date with yourself to try something new. I’d love to see your results!
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September 3, 2009
“My greatest accomplishment is having inspired others… To reach further & push themselves in a new direction after taking one of my specialized courses in powdered glass; or simply inspiring students to find the joy in their own work. Some of my beginning students have gone on to set up their own glass studio after taking a basic kilnforming course I offer locally.
Part of that accomplishment is proving – especially to women who say they have no talent, that they’re not creative or artistic – that we’re all creative beings & their work is indeed worthy and beautiful.”
So, what is creativity? According to my dictionary it’s a noun… “the use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work”.
The use of imagination. I think that’s the key. I’ve always been imaginative. Had the ability to play, or put myself into an imaginary circumstance and carried on imaginary conversations. If reading a book or watching a movie, I’m transported to that time and place, I’m able to put myself into the story while everything around me dissolves, disappears into an other world. It’s the same when I’m working on a project in my studio. I go to that place where time stands still, and my entire being is consumed with the project, nothing else matters and the energy is incredible.
I wonder how anyone can say they’re not creative…. Don’t you have to be imaginative to use up those leftovers for dinner tonight? Don’t you have to be creative to come up with holiday & birthday gifts when you haven’t the extra cash? How many different ways have you come up with to say ‘I love you’ to those you love? I’ve seen some amazing gardens, fabulous homes, and incredible fashionistas all designed by someone who believed they weren’t creative or artistic! That my friends is a travesty! These creative spirits do not believe they have the power of imagination. They do! Believe it. We ARE all creative and imaginative! I believe the difference is some of us take more time to practice.
That brings up another observation for those who say they can’t draw. They’ve never taken a drawing class because they believe they can’t draw & don’t want to be embarrassed in class. I understand, it can feel intimidating, but guess what? Nobody else taking a beginning drawing class can draw either! YET!! Can you speak French without having ever taken a class? Or any language? Drawing is a visual language. Can you tap dance without lessons? Someone taught us how to do almost everything we know. You take the class to learn how to draw. Then it’s simply a matter of practice. Did the Olympic swimmers gain their medals without practice? Was the World Series won without practice? Does the concert pianist perform without practice? I think not, and the best of artists will tell you they practice to stay at the top of their form
How do you get creative? Take a class! Learn something that you think is creative and let the energy and fun factor pour over your spirit. Walk into an art store and buy some interesting paper and some color to put on it. Watercolors, Pastels, Oils, Inks. Splatter, smear, and moosh it on then scrape lines out of the color. Go to a florist and instead of a bouquet, buy individual flowers. Take them home, pull out your prettiest vase and arrange them. Snip the stems into different lengths & arrange them again. Add ribbon, marbles, rocks, or weave sparkly thread around them. Explore your local fabric or craft store & take something home that makes you smile…what can you make with that pretty fabric, some glue and glitter? When it’s finished, make another one! Gather some rocks, moss, pine cones and sticks. Arrange them in an empty garden spot. Add something new to it every day.
Spend time practicing. Have FUN practicing. Leave your ego out of it and just play. Make as many, play as often, practice as much as you can.
Then send me a picture of what you made & I’ll post it here! Take a chance! Believe in yourself! Any questions?
Remember, HAVE FUN!!!