Thursday, January 28, 2016

Adventures in creating fused glass art!

Don't worry, I haven't abandoned my jewelry design practice. I'm still busy making wire wrapped and enamel pieces, and am in the middle of a few different projects. But I am absolutely LOVING my fused glass class... and everything feels shiny and new, kind of like the glass itself.

Last night's project was making a plate. I was hoping I'd get to make jewelry, but I understand that our teacher wants to show us various skills before letting us experiment on our own. Besides, as my husband, Jon, said, "It's great that you're making things that are beautiful AND useful." We often host parties so an extra plate will definitely come in handy!

Before we got to work, we were shown different design techniques. For instance, if you want your design to have very sharp and clear edges, the actual design needs to be at the bottom of the structure when the piece is placed on the kiln. If you want to incorporate artistic glass bubbles, you need to leave some spaces between the layers. And if you layer colored sheets of glass, you can play with the colors' tones. The possibilities seemed endless and a little overwhelming.

Since I love blues and abstract designs, I went for a geometric pattern made with jagged pieces of glass. I cut several shades of greens, blues and white into angular forms, then added an "explosion" of shards on either side:

This plate is going to have a black background. This means I had to use opaque colors because the transparents won't show up on the black. However, I fell in love with an aqua transparent, so my teacher suggested I lay some of it across the opaques to create new shades of blue. That's the dark stripe you see at the very bottom of the design.

Because I want my pieces to retain their angular shapes, I had to put my pattern at the bottom of the piece... which means that once I created the design, I had to take it apart and put it back together on the kiln. I then added a sheet of clear glass, and then finally the black. The design should ultimately look as though it's floating above the black background.

Once the plate has fused, we're going to learn how to "slump" the glass into a curved mold. I don't yet know how to do this, but am looking forward to finding out.

Meantime, I did learn many new skills and am realizing just how physical glass making is. In our three-hour class, I got to sit down for maybe five minutes. The rest of the time I was cutting glass, prepping the kiln shelf, setting the kiln, arranging my piece, buffing and smoothing the glass. It's a lot of work! But it was work that I enjoyed and definitely worth the effort.

While I was arranging my pieces on the kiln, I chatted with an artist named Jordan who works at the studio. His specialty is neon. He explained that each neon beer sign -- like those famous Budweiser signs -- is handmade. After, I took a look around the neon studio and was amazed to see such complex pieces. I never thought of neon as an art form. I'll get some pics for you next week.

I was just happy to finish my set of coasters. Here is how they turned out:

The dark green glass ended up being shiny -- and a black ring formed around the edges. My teacher said that some colors will "ghost" like that when they melt. It was unexpected, but looks really cool.

This class is only six sessions long, but I want to see if I can continue with this skill. I'd love to incorporate wire work, enameling and glass fusion into my pieces.

Check out the rest of my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

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