This week I got the touch for how to hold and pace rods and hot glass. It took a lot of You-Tube and practice time. Suddenly seeing my hands do what needed to happen was hugely gratifying.
Here’s the progression through three sessions…getting more consistent, but also running the glass through as many techniques and color combinations as I can each time.
I’ve been researching a lot about glass types, techniques, annealing and equipment. I think for me the biggest obstacle is going to be scale. People generally talk in millimeters, which is why so many work with beads. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to get to the scale I have in my head with the materials and equipment I’m willing to invest in. I enjoy experiencing glass, but do no see it as MY medium…just one more to explore.
I’ll keep playing and take things as far as I can continue to enjoy at this scale. Maybe
I saw some incredible glass beads at Grove Gallery. They are like little universes. The colors are intoxicating, as they blend from one to another. They were created with a torch in a system called lampwork. I still have to look up why.
My first surprise is the cost of embarking on this venture. Art supplies are crazy, but you can’t really start glass without some sort of kiln and easy gas sources are not bad in the short run, they’d add up quickly, yet a good torch system is flat out costly, too. Basic tools and safety equipment and a selection of glass is not bad. You just can’t really DO anything with it unless some dollars are expended.
So, I’m making expendable experiments, in order to learn, see if I like the medium, and see if it likes me. So far it’s hard on the eyes and I already know I need glasses that filter the light. I have to stand at the table I’m able to use, but that’s ok for short runs. I NEED ventilation, as just today I got the classic carbon monoxide headache etc.
After three sessions I think I’ve encountered almost all that can go wrong ( i could REALLY regret having written that, but it feels that way). That means I’ve learned a lot about what not to do which gets me closer, I hope, to what I DO want to do. I’m reading and watching videos like an addict and between trying and learning and trying I do have faith I’ll make progress, but it’s going to take more time than any medium has to date.
The hot glass is like hot caramel, so the feel is familiar. Only practice can tell me exactly where in the flame I need to be for various process, or how hot or cold things need to be to accomplish what.
I’m posting this photo of my first pieces…a blue bead (the first on that survived, as I had issues with a substance that’s SUPPOSED to hold it on the mandrel (rod). If you only knew what beautiful things I had in my head going in…unrecognizably different from what came out.
What I learned today:
Fine threads of glass can poke right into your finger and make it bleed.
Clear glass is harder than solid colors – or so it seems.
If you don’t warm glass up slowly, it can blow up.
If you don’t cool glass downs slowly, it can blow up.
Even when the glass does not seem molten, it can still be very sticky.
Imagining it, does not make it so.
Hotter is better/faster.
The blob should be bigger.
Don’t push too hard.
Last week we installed an outdoor piece that was one of nine chosen for Lansing Art Gallery’s art and history scavenger hunt, up from now through September 1. This even will guide visitors to various downtown Lansing landmarks and original works of art with quizzes and historical tidbits. To participate, be sure to have your smart phone…it’s your guide.
My piece, called “Reaching Out” is installed in…wait, you have to do the tour to find out. The piece displays 10 QR codes that direct visitors to the websites of Lansing artists working in media that would not have otherwise been exhibited at such an event. I’m pleased to showcase Deb Oliva (ceramist), Mike Bass (composer), Jenny Schu (beader), Shawn Misener (writer) and several more, including myself and Dace Koenigsknecht, who fabricated the metal structure of this piece.
I look forward to taking the tour myself. Get more information and start the tour on your phone here. Just click on your level of choice to get to the first piece of art. The tour starts at Lansing City Hall.
If you’d like a pdf of the map, just e-mail the Lansing Art Gallery at lansingartgallery.gmail.com, or stop by during gallery hours.