Steider Studios.Prairie Star Designs. Fence Project

I love working with metal artist Tom Herrera of  Prairie Star Designs because his projects are always interesting and creative.  You can read about Tom’s process in creating this trellis and gate on his blog at Prairie Star Designs.  You’ll want to scroll down to May 6th, “Sanoe’s Trellis and Gate” to read about Tom’s process in this project, but you’ll enjoy his other posts too.

Steider Studios.1.Samples cut out

My process began with meeting Linda, Tom’s client and sorting out her ideas and color schemes.  She came to my studio sale and chose colors for sunsets and bodies of water as well as several reds for hearts.  She brought a photo of a sunset and we chose watery colors from my color bars and samples in my studio.

Steider Studos1.5.Yellow Samples Ready to Design

I always start with samples, for a client to choose from, so tried several combinations of yellow for my sunset background…and several shades of watery blues for the panels depicting water.

Steider Studios.2.Samples in Process

Three layers of sheet glass, topped with heavy doses of Bullseye’s powder colors in striations matching the sunset photo and my water sample that Linda had seen in my studio.   I drew lines through the watery panels to show movement.

Steider Studios.3.Test Panels set up in Kiln

The glass is dammed in my Paragon kiln with fiber paper between the samples to keep them separated.

Steider Studios.4.Red Panels fired in kiln

In addition to sunset and water, Linda wanted to incorporate hearts into her fence.  After she chose which red she liked best from my samples, I stacked and fired my three layer combination.  It was simpler for us to frame squares of glass with heart shaped cut outs in metal, rather than me cutting perfect hearts and tediously damming them in my kiln; then Tom having to bend metal around them to frame.

Steider Studios.5.Aqua Panels in Process

After seeing my samples, Linda chose to eliminate sunsets from her trellis gate so the red hearts would have serene watery blues on each side of each heart.

Steider Studios.5.Turquoise Panels Process

Linda liked the deepest aquamarine and turquoise combinations especially those with lines showing watery motion.  With Linda’s decisions made, I blew up my samples to Tom’s size specifications keeping my designs as accurate as possible.

Steider Studios.6.Final Panel in Kiln.Tom's Fence Project

Because I STILL have not repaired my larger Skutt kiln, I had to fire each set of panels separately which added time on my end of the project.  I was already behind schedule due to custom work prior to this project and too many spring shows.

Steider Studios.Tom's Gate Aqua Panel 1

We were all happy with the watery aqua panels, especially how they glow under sunlight.

Steider Studios.Tom's Gate Red Panel 1.jpg

The red absolutely shimmers!  I was annoyed that I had a couple specks of kiln brick dust but it landed where metal would cover it and was so small that when held up to the sun we couldn’t see it, so decided to not shoot for perfection.

Steider Studios.Tom's Gate Turquoise Panel 2.jpg

The darker turquoise panels also turned out gorgeous, especially when held up to the sun.

Steider Studios.Mock up for Tom's Gate

The final arrangement of panels and hearts.

Steider Studios.Prairie Star Designs. Fence Project

And once again, the finished project.  I love it!!  I want one!  Thanks Tom Herrera for your faith in my work.  It is a pleasure to work with you!

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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.



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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