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Progression of a Project:

September 21, 2009

Insert for Japanese garden sculpture.

Insert for Japanese garden sculpture.  Project for Tom Hererra.

Fellow artist and sculptor Tom Herrera had me make some glass inserts for his metal work recently.  I’ve made dragonfly wings, a couple sea turtles, a deco style guitar replica, and the latest was an insert for a sculpture he’s making for the Master Gardeners’ new Japanese Garden.

He brought me a drawing of his sculpture and we discussed his vision which included the use of triangles and warm rich color.  He wanted a half inch thick  7″ square that would be finished with a half inch metal frame.  Translucency was of utmost importance.

After researching Japanese Garden Design, I chose to concentrate on water and stone as my elements and sketched out a few possibilities.  My color choices representing stone are in keeping with Tom’s vision.

Building the layers

Building the layers

In the photo above, I’m building the layers of ‘water’ using Bullseye’s 1116 Turquoise on top of  clear irid with the irid up so it will sparkle without the glare of the coating being so obvious.  I use this approach often as I love the sparkle of irid but it’s a more subtle effect.

Capping the triangles with more irid.

Capping the triangles with more irid.

Next I clear capped with more iridescent clear glass, but this time the irid is facing down.  Again, this is for subtlety and so the face of the project matches the back.  I frequently check my notes and sketches making sure the design in my head translated to paper is corresponding with the glass (turning out the way I want it to).

Filling in the stone path.

Filling in the stone path.

Now ready to fill in the ‘path’, I’ve mixed 3 to 5 colors each of gray & brown -02 frit (medium) in translucent and opaque; purple and pink -02 frit in translucent and opaque; and a couple off white opaques.  I mix them ahead of time for a more even application of color, alternating between the mixes as I fill the path.

 

 

 

 

 

Ready to fire.

Ready to fire.

The final step is topping the path off with clear frit (I used -03, course) so it matches the front and back with a layer of clear glass to look through before the eye sees color.  You can see the set up inside my kiln, just prior to firing, surrounded with fiber paper and held in place with cut up kiln shelf.

Finished.

Finished.

Forgive the quality of the final image, I was at the end of my deadline so this was taken atop a neutral canvas bag as I delivered it to Tom at Starbucks where we meet for deliveries.  The top image shows how the piece glows in the sunlight which is how it will be viewed.  In this photo I wanted to capture the iridescence.  Tom promises to get a photo to me when it’s installed and I’ll post it here.  When Tom gets his blog going, I promise to link to it so you can see his work!

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Play Date with Pastels?

September 19, 2009

Before firing

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.

Glassline atop BE French Vanilla, White, Black & Clear with clear powder tacked onto substrate. Lower right, white & black sandblasted.

Glassline atop BE French Vanilla, White, Black & Clear with clear powder tacked onto substrate. Lower right, white & black sandblasted.

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!

Underglaze Crayons on BE Clear, White, Black with clear powder tacked onto substrate.  Additional test of clear capping (thus the distortion)

Underglaze Crayons on BE Clear, White, Black with clear powder tacked onto substrate.   Additional test of clear capping (thus the distortion)

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.

Before & after firing:  White base, fired atop 2 layers.

Before & after firing: White base, fired atop 2 layers.

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.

Test on clear substrate then placed drawing side down atop clear base.

Test on clear substrate then placed drawing side down atop clear base.

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.

Clear substrate, drawing side down on top of white base.

Clear substrate, drawing side down on top of white base.

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.

Clear substrate, water brushed onto drawing, fired uncapped on top of white base

Clear substrate, water brushed onto drawing, fired uncapped on top of white base

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.

Water brushed on surface, white sandblasted substrate, clear capped with irid.

Water brushed on surface, white sandblasted substrate, clear capped with irid.

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!

Test:  landscape, sunflower ~ not enough color selection for either!

Test: landscape, sunflower ~ not enough color selection for either!  Yellow too pale, can’t see detail.

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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Wall of collaged studies, tests, doodles

Wall of collaged studies, tests, doodles & trinkets from friends.

I was recently interviewed by Erika Pitera for the Designer Spotlight on My Shopping Connection.  When asked “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?”, I knew the answer immediately.

“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.”


You can read the entire interview here or here.

Pastels.Texture

Pastels.Texture

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”.

Fairy for trading with the young artists I know & love.

Fairy for trading with the young artists I know & love.

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.

Embroidery.Sampler

Embroidery.Sampler

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.

Airbrushed canvas

Airbrushed canvas

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

Sketchbook

Sketchbook

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.

Glass scraps

Glass scraps

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.

8 year old Granddaughter's rendition of ME!

8 year old Granddaughter’s rendition of ME!

Then send me a picture of what you made & I’ll post it here!  Take a chance!  Believe in yourself!  Any questions?

 

 

 

 

7 year old niece's fairies

6 year old niece’s fairies

 

Remember, HAVE FUN!!!

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