Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Adventures in making fused dichroic glass jewelry: my first glass demo!

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.

Check out the rest of my handmade wire wrapped jewelry, enamel jewellery and glass jewelry at Naomi's Designs, MayaGirl Creations and Glass By Naomi.

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