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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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Up near the road

Up near the road

My garden is a constant source of inspiration.

Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

It’s slowly expanded over 25  years, consuming about an acre.  It’s my sanctuary and I love photographing it’s progress along the way.

Cupid's Dart

Cupid's Dart

My first camera was a Kodak Instamatic that I received as a birthday gift when I was ten.

Verbascum

Verbascum

Over my lifetime of picture taking I’ve spent a fortune on film and camera accessories.  Now I’m grateful for my easy to use point and shoot digital camera!

Delphinium

Delphinium

I use a Nikon Coolpix P80 which is fairly small & lightweight for travel.  It also gives me a lot of features that I used to have with my old 35mm Nikon.

daylily-2

Daylily

I love detail shots, to really see the flowers in my garden.  To submerge myself in the wonder of color, design, pattern, and texture that nature has provided in each and every flower is one of the ways I utilize all the photos I’ve taken.

Gayfeather
Gayfeather

I am then compelled to turn those photos into paintings.  Can’t help myself, I have to.  It’s a yearning, a craving, a need to portray the lines, the color, the darks and lights, as well as the ever present question “Can I convey what I see?”.

Pink Iris
Pink Iris

For me, painting is an exploration of the flower, seeing it with a critical eye, exploring it’s depth, following the movement of line and wondering if I can render that color with my pastels.  It’s joyful to place the first colorful line then immerse myself in the progression.

Sunflower
Sunflower

When I’m painting, time is endless, a vortex of one hour or twenty.  It’s not even me painting, as I’ve gone somewhere else.  Difficult to describe, that sense of being lost in the painting, yet one with it.  No sense of time or place.  A feeling of being lifted to a higher plane, in a lighter place without fatigue and leaving my woes behind.  Nirvana?

Cosmos
Cosmos

When I worked with fibers, I turned the paintings into quilted wall panels with beads, threads and charms as textural enhancements falling away from the hand-dyed fabrics.

Fairy Garden

Fairy Garden

Pansies

Pansies

Poppies

Poppies

Now I translate them to glass.  Directly or indirectly.

Steider.Wildflowers
Steider.Wildflowers

Cake Platter

Cake Platter

Window Wildflowers

Window Wildflowers

Flower Pots

Flower Pots

A couple of my photographer friends, Toni & Chris have inspired me to take more photos and get better acquainted with my camera; and even to post my photos in places like Flickr and Facebook.  So why not here too, sharing with you more of my creative process!

Side-veiw-new-area

Newest seating area

Chris even nudged me to submit photos to Shutter Sisters‘ One Word Project and guess what?  They chose the photo above for August 6th representing ‘Home’!

 

Powder Room Heart Mirror

Powder Room Heart Mirror

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: 

 

Curio

Curio

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.

It’s March?

March 1, 2009

 

'Running Horse'

'Running Horse'

The year is already racing by too fast.  I have signed on to too many projects.  Many of them due this month, MARCH!  Not one to say ‘no’ to opportunity, of course I said ‘yes’.  If I should fall behind with my blog will you keep following?

This pastel painting was based on my photographs taken at a photographer’s horse drive near Sisters, Oregon.  Wilma invited me to go along, knowing I wasn’t a photographer, but a painter at the time.  The cowboys would herd the horses toward us so we could capture the imagery of running horses with clouds of dust.  I can still hear the thundering sound of hooves pounding towards me.

Is it spring yet?

February 28, 2009

Or should I say summer, with a painting of cosmos!

cosmos-painting-copy

Cosmos

 

One year my neighbor planted a wildflower garden by the road.  It was spectacular & I was mesmerized by the cosmos.  I later planted some for myself & have been painting them ever since.  And translating some paintings into glass.

 

Wild Cosmos Wave

Wild Cosmos Wave

I need some color!

February 28, 2009

We’ve had too many cold gray days in a row.  I went looking through some old work for the type of day I want to see.

Red Sunset over Gorge

Red Sunset over Gorge

This is a painting I did a couple years ago for a friend.  It’s a view of the Columbia River Gorge just below my house at sunset.  It’s one of my favorite places to paint from.  With the river and sky constantly changing, no two paintings ever turn out the same.   I’ve translated it to glass, but don’t have good photos of the pieces I’ve made.  They seem to sell before I take the time to photograph.

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