It's been about 10 months since I began making glass pieces and this art has become my favorite out of all of the jewelry making techniques I practice. I got to share my knowledge -- limited as it is at this point -- with the seniors at the Homestead, a local residence near me.
In my last post, I wrote about how I'm going to be teaching a glass class early next year at Maple Grove Cemetery's cultural center. I want to get a few demos in before doing this, so I asked the Homestead's rec director if I could teach glass fusing at my monthly jewelry making class. She agreed and the seniors seemed to be excited with the idea.
Still, I was nervous. A few of the seniors have minor dementia and glass fusing involves well, glass, and fire. I didn't want anyone to get hurt. To prepare, I pre-cut all of the glass and filed the ends of each piece to blunt them. I also explained to the rec director that I needed to be the only one who operated the kiln.
I decided to have my students make mosaic pendants, which involved fusing colorful bits onto a black base. It's a fairly simple glass project, but the results are beautiful. They're also fun to make!
Before handing out the glass pieces, I explained what dichroic glass is and showed them the kiln and kiln paper. One of the ladies is 91, sharp as a tack, and has a wonderful sarcastic sense of humor. "That looks like something you'd heat Chinese dumplings in!" she said of the kiln. And when I showed her the kiln paper, "Well, now we know what we can use if we run out of toilet paper."
The rec director and I helped them arrange and glue the pieces and we then took a little field trip to the microwave, where I showed them how the glass is fired. This microwave was bigger than mine, so the piece fired in about two minutes -- and the women were impressed. They all "oohed" and "aahed" as I lifted the kiln's lid and presented the glowing, molten pendant. After, that same lady told me, "You know, at my age, I thought I've seen everything, but this is new to me. You can always learn something."
We finished up the lesson with everyone putting their glued pendants into labeled envelopes, so I could finish firing them at home. But the women wanted more! They've asked if I could do another lesson showing how I actually cut and shape the glass. They also loved the idea of working with pre-cut shapes, like hearts and stars.
I'm so happy and relieved that my class was a success! I really love working with these women and am pleased that they enjoyed glass fusion as much as I do. Now that I did this class, I feel more confident taking my lesson to other venues. I look forward to introducing more people to this art form.