, Some days our well executed plans laugh in our face as they tell us "we had something completely different in mind for you today". So went my day...
I came into the studio with the excitement of a child on Christmas Eve. Yesterday I set up and fired my first pot melt. I was so looking forward to coming in this morning and lifting the top of the kiln. That excitement didn't last long after lifting the lid. Initially I saw the pot melt bowl that had contained all of the scrap pieces of glass I had put in it yesterday. There was a beautiful, bright blend of orange, turquoise, yellow, white, blue and green.
I lifted the bowl from the stand and my heart sank. Disaster! The majority of the glass was a muddy mess of color. I had heeded advice found in my research and consciously limited the amount of dark colored glass I had included. I noticed that the glass had merged with the stainless steel ring and was stuck on one side. Then I saw that a bit of glass had melted under the edges of the ring. Much to my surprise, the ring lifted from the glass relatively easily.
However, taking the glass off of the shelf was going to be a much bigger challenge. It had bonded to the shelf like I had bonded with my first born. At this point, I closed the kiln and decided that it was time to go for a walk (and maybe cry a little!). On my walk I worked through my feelings of failure and came back to the studio determined to look at this whole situation with a new attitude. Donning a hammer and a flat, stainless steel ruler I headed for the kiln and opened the lid. I was able to slide the hammer under a small part of the glass that had not stuck to the shelf. Thank heavens it was a fiber shelf - that allowed me to work the ruler around the piece and loosen its' grip. When I lifted the glass, a few cracks made themselves known and a ring of glass released from about half of the outer edge. As I picked up the glass, I noticed that a nice chunk of shelf released with the glass...again, thank heavens it was a fiber shelf. I would never have been able to remove it from a ceramic shelf.
In a much better frame of mind to deal since working myself into a sweat on my walk, I gingerly carried the piece to take some pictures. As I looked more closely, it started to grow on me. I saw beautiful swirls of color in place of the mud. I saw 3 beautifully colored jungle birds with their heads together in contemplation or maybe conversation!
The crack on the semi-circle that I lifted from the shelf gave way so I now have two interesting shapes to work with. You'll see it on the wall next time you're in the studio - that's where my 'mistakes' end up - transformed into glass art with a great back story to tell
My expectations were not met this morning. This was not the way I wanted to start my day but it is how my day started. I am thankful I was able to look through the mud to see the beauty through all of the doused expectations. Thank you, life, for today's lessons (in equal parts, how not to do a pot melt and how to let go of yesterday's expectations and accept today's reality).
My mother was my favorite environmentalist. She came early to her environmental consciousness, not out of a feeling that it was socially responsible to be green or that it made sense to be a good steward of this earth that we call home. Her penchant to reuse and recycle was one forged out of necessity. A child of the depression, money was tight and she was forced from a young age to identify and save any item that could be used again.
These habits held on tight and until her death at the age of 90, you could count on Mom to have a stash of used plastic shopping bags, used zip lock bags (carefully washed and dried, of course!), wrapping paper that had been used but wasn't too crinkled, used ribbons and bows and many other items too numerous to remember! There was a time in my life when these habits of hers were just plain annoying and I certainly did not see the point.
Fast forward years and I now admire her inclination to reduce, reuse and recycle. At my studio, glass (no matter how small) is saved and reused. Many of my projects are created from the scraps - the one above is a case in point. This color block design was created from glass used in other projects during classes that I pulled from the bin. It is accented with the scrap that I sweep off of the worktables after classes. I took my little container of very small scrap and dumped it along the middle of this piece and ended up with a simple, yet attractive design.
It has been such a pleasure to be a part of Artown this year. I participated in the Arlington Bridge Art Faire as part of Artown's Opening Night Jubilee on July 1 and hosted an Artist's Reception at my studio last Saturday. I was astounded by the attendance at the reception. There was not a quiet moment between 11 and 4! There was so much interest in this art and so much gratitude expressed for opening Fused Finery and offering my services. I don't recall hearing a thank you for doing my work in my previous 30 year career in the corporate world. It was overwhelming to hear 'thank you' several times and feel your positive vibes and your gratitude. The class I held on Sunday as part of the Artown workshop series included 8 students new to glass fusion. I was blown away by the 8 unique and creative works of glass art that came out of that class. I even got a big hug from one of those students when she came in to pick up her project today (something else I rarely got during my previous life in corporate America...Thanks, Melinda, you made my day!!)
I'm not sure what to call this place that I come every day now. After working for more years than I care to admit at jobs that I got excited about only on payday, I come to my studio every day and love what I get to do. My only regret is that I didn't do this 10 years ago! It is interesting to find myself pausing when I refer to what I do... I'm not sure what to call it. I can't call it work and it certainly doesn't feel like a job either. Every day now I surround myself with an art that I absolutely love. I love the colors, the shine, the textures and the process of integrating new products and ideas into my work.
That is not the best part, though. I am exhilarated by introducing this art to students who come into my studio. And the absolute highlight of most of my days is opening the kiln and seeing how their creations have come to life. Thanks to each and every one of you who has added a new dimension to my life by coming in and taking a class. I am deeply grateful!
Thanks for posting your guest blog, Alex (and for getting me off my butt to get this blog started!). I enjoyed reading about your experience at the Intro to Fusing class.
Glass is an extremely fascinating medium to work with. I was drawn to it for a number of reasons. I like that it is a mix of technical and artistic disciplines. The whole study of how glass is made and how it reacts in the kiln delves into the scientific, technical side of the art. The design aspect of working with glass is equally as expansive. The options available in designing kiln glass projects are endless. Days could be (and have been!) spent browsing Youtube videos of glass design techniques, products and projects. Looking through fused glass pins on Pinterest is another way to make time disappear! So many ideas...so little time!
Since January 2017, I have made glass my full time endeavor. I opened Fused Finery with the intention of having a gathering place for those interested in the art...a place to come learn, collaborate with other like minded souls and to create and bring your ideas to life.
Whether glass has just recently sparked your interest or your talent is more developed, I hope you'll find my studio a comfortable place where you feel inspired to learn, work and socialize.
Over a period of the past 3 or 4 years, I've developed a certain interest in glass and its use as a medium in the art world. I have spent time around a few lamp workers in my day, but up until this point, I have mainly been an admirer and passive observer of the art form. While I love the look and feel of glass, I have only tried my hand in the creation of glass art one time at a glass blowing studio. Recently, I decided to change this and dive into the world of glass fusion.
After noticing that a glass fusion studio had opened up in Reno earlier this year, I made the plunge and decided to call Fused Finery to schedule my very first experience working with cold glass. I signed up for their 3 hour long "Intro to Fusing" class and planned to attend the following Saturday morning. I was extremely excited to learn something new and experience a new side of glass working which I had yet to partake in.
New Skills and Fusion Fun!
I was surprised to find that Fused Finery was situated in a neighborhood I called home for many of my younger years. The delightful glass fusion studio is located a block from Reno High School on the corner of Booth Street and Idlewild Drive.
Upon arrival, I met the owner Judy Joustra who showed me around the property, and the two of us began to have a wonderful conversation about art, happiness, and life purpose. When the class began, Judy explained the different types of fused glass types, viscosities, and thicknesses. It was interesting to discover that fused glass tends to find homeostasis at a thickness of 6mm, and therefore, it was ideal that we use a combination of 2mm, 3mm and 4mm glass sheets to achieve our creative goals.
After our initial introduction to glass, we were led around the studio to study different types of art glass including different forms of frit, confetti, paint powders, dichroics, rods, and murrine. It was clear that the shop was set up for those new to the art of glass fusion, as well as seasoned veterans of the craft.
I was happy to see that all of the glasses we would be working with at Fused Finery were high quality Bullseye Glass Company products. As a newbie glass artist, seeing that the studio was dedicated to supplying the students and artists with quality materials made me feel like I had a greater potential to create beautiful work.
After our tour, Judy taught us about "slumping" - a technique in which glass objects are placed in a kiln at varying temperatures in order to allow them to fuse and meld together. Each class participant was given a clear sheet of 3mm glass to work with as our base layer. Judy then showed us the different pieces of colored glass which we would be working with to create our first glass fusion art project.
We were given the option of using one of the various ceramic molds to base our design around and were instructed on the ways in which one would properly cut glass to form fit our artistic work space. Finally, Judy showed us how to work with and manipulate various glass working tools and we were set free to create our respective masterpieces.
Let's Get Creative!
I decided to work with a smaller, daintier ceramic mold as I didn't want to create something which I felt might appear gaudy when completed. My aim was to create a piece of art that I could proudly display in my own home. This was an ambitious goal for a first time student who had never worked with cold glass, but I was feeling inspired and was ready to channel my inspiration into my art.
I selected a rippled blue sheet of glass as well as an aqua green color to make my piece pop off the clear base layer. I began cutting the glass sheets to from various random shapes and began to arrange them together. I soon found that I needed another color to break up the blue monotony I was feeling, and chose two small, long slices of rippled white glass to place on the top of the blue ones. I was pleased with how the colors played with each other, and I soon moved onto the wet sanding process to get rid of the sharp edges of each cut of glass.
After sanding everything, I was left with a very fluid, fun piece of art that reminded me of the abstract clothing fashion style made popular in the 1990s. I assembled everything onto my clear sheet of glass, but felt like it was still missing something. I decided to add two pieces of yellow glass at the very end and the colors clashed in a beautiful way.
I was extremely pleased with the way it had turned out, and after cleaning up my work area, I was informed that my piece would be fused in the kiln at some point over the next few days and would be available for pickup the following week. I thanked Judy for her instruction and left feeling creative, inspired, and ready to take on the day.
Schedule Your Visit Today!
If you're looking to try something fun, new, and creative, I highly recommend giving a glass fusion class at Fused Finery a try! This could be a wonderful opportunity to find a creative outlet or hobby to participate in. Glass fusion classes at Fused Finery would also make a great gift for the person who has everything, and would be a seriously amazing first date idea for anyone looking for something outside the bar and club scene. Forget the coffee... go play with glass!
You can find all sorts of beautiful fused glass art, or attend one of the many classes Fused Finery offers by calling 775-303-7176 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Alexander Chambers of WONDER Web Development 04/17/17.