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80 colorful panels of glass swivel and sway in the skylight at the entrance of Henkle Middle School in White Salmon.   They were produced by three classes of 5th and 6th graders led by their art teacher, Betsy Petrick.  The project wouldn’t have been possible without funding from the Washington State Arts Commission and the Oregon Glass Guild.

I met with Mrs. Petrick in early February to discuss and plan the project, originally a glass mobile.  Safety issues and technical aspects overcome, and supplies purchased we began our journey the first Monday in March.

The students studied Jackson Pollock and Alexander Calder while I cut up sheets of Bullseye Glass.  Faye Malench produced hand pulled stringer for us; and I contacted Tom Herrera to get started on the support structure.

The students sketched their ideas after I introduced them to glass, the possibilities and parameters.  We addressed safety issues each day, then began…

Students waited their turn in line to select frit and stringer.  After the first session Mrs. Petrick and I realized we needed more help to dispense glass quicker and have more contact with students as they built their panels.

My friends, Charlene and Angela agreed to join the fun.

Students placed a clear panel of glass over their drawing, then bent high temp wire into an omega shape and glued it on the top center of their panel.  They either buried it with frit or placed a small piece of sheet glass over it so it would become embedded in the glass.

Students took limited amounts of frit and stringer back to their sketch, applied it then went back for more glass.  We used Thompson Klyr-fire to hold the frit and stringer in place during transport.

The extra help from Charlene & Angela freed Mrs. Petrick & me to better help the students.

The panels were transported to my studio kilns for firing.  A Paragon above and Skutt below.  Each student also made a small pendant to keep for themselves.

My three kilns were loaded and reloaded several times for 80 panels.

First group finished.  We used a process temperature of 1385º to retain texture.

Second group finished.  A few of the panels had to be re-fired as the wire wasn’t completely buried in frit.

Third group finished.  Thanks to Valerie Adams for leading me to Flex-Tec, an anti-shatter coating that I painted on all the panels after they were fired.  Thanks especially to Mark at His Glassworks for holding my hand during my learning curve.  Finally, fishing swivels were attached to the embedded wire so the panels would twist and we were ready to install.

Metal artist Tom Herrera designed and produced the metal supports.  Henkle’s Jim Mansfield drilled all the holes and clear-coated for us, then installed the supports within one day!

Mrs. Petrick and I each took two sides of the skylight and arranged panels so the colors would flow and the relative visual weight  of each panel would balance.

The ‘man-lifter’ felt much safer to use than the ladders!  As we installed each panel it was fun to hear all the positive comments as students and staff walked by.  “There’s mine!” each of the art students said as they spotted theirs, pointing it out to their friends.

We found a rhythm inserting the metal wires, twisting to secure and moving on to the next panel.

In less than two hours all panels were hung.

I went back the following morning to snip off the excess wire, completing the project.

Detail…

More detail…

Good thing many of my photos were blurry or you’d be looking at even more detail shots!

As we finished Mrs. Petrick pondered the possibility of adding more rows of panels, moving up the skylight each year.  Wouldn’t that be fun!?!!

One of the best parts of a project like this, is watching the kids come to know and understand glass and it’s seemingly limitless possibilities.  You can see their enthusiasm for the media grow and their pride in ownership when we’ve completed the project.  Some kids are already interested, curious and willing to learn.  Other kids are afraid they’ll cut themselves, or display disinterest because they already think they have no artistic ability.  Some are tired because they haven’t had enough sleep or worried about an upcoming test and can’t concentrate on the task at hand.

With heartfelt joy I tell you by the end of  a project like this, there is a smile on every kid’s face, full of pride and authority from their newfound knowledge.  It’s that beaming smile I always remember beyond the project.

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Maryhill Museum threw a great party last night for the opening of their 70th season!

This is the epilogue of my fence project, but not the last of Maryhill for me.  With their focus on glass this year, I’ve been invited to participate in a tour of glass studios.  My studio is too tiny to fit a busload of people, but my friend Terri has offered her studio and we are already working on some great plans for those taking the tour.  More about that in a future post.

The bronze plaque, now in place, is a beautifully crafted testament to all involved in this project.  I am so grateful to the donors and sponsors, who made this opportunity possible.  David and Roseangela Capobianco, the Arthur G. Dunn Guild of Seattle, Cannon Power Group, Gunkel Construction, and of course, Tom Herrera for including my glass!

I can’t wait to see the William Morris exhibit this summer, and Tacoma’s Museum of Glass is bringing it’s mobile hot shop in June.  Not to mention the spotlight on local glass artists with the Oregon Glass Guild at Maryhill’s Arts Festival in August.

In addition to the incredible art and fascinating history this great museum holds, the surrounding views of the Columbia River are incredible.

The grounds at Maryhill host a plethora of peacocks that you can’t help falling in love with.

I’ve tried capturing them with my camera, with pastels, fiber and glass……

None of my renditions reflect their iridescence, personalities or regality as the birds themselves.  The perfect feathered friends of Maryhill.

Join me at these events and more at Maryhill Museum.  There’s a nominal admission fee or better yet, become a member.

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Installed!

March 12, 2010

Here it is, the final photos for the last few weeks of work and my two previous posts.  Tom Herrera’s fence installed at the Windy Flats Walkway and Viewpoint at Maryhill Museum, with my glass inserts.

Detail above and side view below.

Join us for the dedication March 20th at 4pm.  Maryhill Museum is on Hwy 14 just off Hwy 97, near Goldendale Washington in the Pacific Northwest.  I’ll be there, will you?

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SUCCESS!!!

March 7, 2010

At noon I was able to open the kiln door to find as perfect a set of glass panels as I could hope for.  They’ve been cleaned up and coated with FlexTec (an anti-shatter substance) which is curing for the next 6 hours.  Because we’re short on time, I’ll accelerate the normal 4 day curing time by placing them back into the kiln at 150º for 8 hours.

Above are the two 20″ panels with the sun hitting them so you can see the sparkly iridescent glass.  Below are the two 12.5″ panels with the iridescent glass sparkling.

And in the photos below, you see the same sets in the same order with the sun behind the glass so you can see how vibrant the colors are.

They’re so much better in person!  Hope you can join us at the dedication and see for yourself!!  The next photos of these panels will be installed at Maryhill Museum, where you’ll also see the the fence and patio.

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It’s been a whirlwind romance for this project, with a very short timeframe.  Tom Herrera is transforming a fence retrieved from Sam Hill‘s Seattle estate and installing it at Maryhill Museum’s new Windy Flats Walkway and Viewpoint.  He’s asked me to produce 4 glass inserts, for the ends and center of the fence.  So, with no time for research, I pulled earlier visits to Maryhill from my memory banks.  I always loved the Loie Fuller exhibits and made a quilt honoring her back in my fiber arts days.  I have also photographed and rendered the peacock population in pastels many times, trying to capture the lovely iridescence.  Tom’s only prerequisites….colorful and 1/2″ thick!

With those thoughts in my mind, I played with fine frit and powdered glass on sheet substrate to see which would yield a better result.  Above photo on the left is the powder test already fired and on the right is the frit test ready for its first firing.

The frit wasn’t as crisp as the powder, when stacked and fused into four layers, so I chose powder, the finished sample pictured above.

Above are the 20″ panels and below are the 12″ panels, stacked and almost ready to load into the kiln for the final firing.

I was so involved with the process that I didn’t remember to photograph all the steps along the way.  Cutting the glass, sifting the powder, then drawing lines through.

Two views of the 20″ panels, cleaned after the first firing and ready to stack & fuse together.

Below are the 12″ panels, after the first firing.

Side view of 20″ panels, topped with clear iridescent glass for a sparkly effect.

Loaded into the kiln, held in place with kiln furniture to prevent the glass from flowing when heated to process temperature.  That’s where the project is now.  And will be for another day.  Waiting with crossed fingers and toes hoping  it comes out as planned, that nothing goes wrong in the kiln.  The project is due out of the kiln on delivery day, so there’s no time for error.  Which is why I chose an excruciatingly long firing cycle, ramping up at 100 degrees per hour.

I’ll post the final outcome with sun glowing through the panels which is how you’ll see it at Maryhill.  Better yet, join us Saturday, March 20th for Maryhill Museum’s opening event.  The dedication of the new Windy Flats Walkway and Viewpoint will be at 4 p.m.

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