Monday, January 31, 2011

An Awakener

I'm not a teacher, but an awakener - Robert Frost

Occasionally, someone sees some fused glass and is inspired to learn more...which is really cool since that is exactly how I started down this glass path.

I had someone call last week asking about a lesson, so on Saturday afternoon, basket of glass and tools in hand, I went to her house and worked with her for a couple of hours. Really, there is only one thing I can actually teach in the to score and break glass. The rest of the process involves creatively assembling pieces of glass - color combinations, shapes, contrast, size, texture, etc.

Since my student does beadwork and creates jewelry already, she had no trouble with the creative aspects and picked up the technical requirements fairly easily. She created several pendants during our time together, and I think she did a wonderful job!

Her pendants ready to be fired. She even tried her hand at glass painting (lower left corner).

Inside the kiln, let the firing commence.

Many hours later, they are cool, out of the kiln and ready to finish with pendant bails.

Friday, January 28, 2011

It likes me at the moment...

I work in wherever medium likes me at the moment - Marc Chagall

Enameling is my medium of the choice at the moment. It is beginning to like me a little bit better now, although we still have lots of love/hate moments.

I like the experimental nature of working with the copper - strong, yet bendable. Each time I begin sifting and firing, it is an adventure. Light over dark, dark over light, transparent or opaque. Multiple coats of enamel and firings reveal textures and patterns that surprise me.

Last night, I worked,on several pieces adding some new enamels to the mix. Some were disasters, destined for the trash can or maybe another coat or two of enamel.

I was especially taken with this one. On one side, I used green transparent enamels over copper enameled with a clear enamel. The green seems like it glows, and there is a little crackling running throughout the piece.

The back is a mix of opaque blues. I used a tool to drag patterns through each fresh layer of powder to reveal the color below.

And I create my first ever real pair of earrings out of some smaller copper shapes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Enameling Adventures

"Art Flourishes where there is a sense of adventure."
Alfred North Whitehead, British Mathematician and Philosopher, 1861-1947

I still feel like I'm wandering around in a dark room while working with this medium. Occasionally, I catch a glimpse of light under the door and can see the the potential of powdering copper with glass. It still feels totally out of control to me though.

The more I read and see from those farther down this path, the uncontrollable nature may be inherent and invaluable. It may lessen with practice, but should always be there. For me now, it is difficult to know exactly what will happen when a piece goes into the kiln.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I know it's not November, but...

I ran across a line from a poem today, and it was just so lovely that I googled it to find the rest of the poem. I had not heard this one before, that I recall, even though I love many of his other poems.

Not long ago, I read several mini bios on Robert Frost and found his life to be interesting. He was often touched with terribly tragic events. I get a sense of artistic melancholy when I read his work.

Even though it is January, today is so very November. Not too cold, but everything is stark and grey. The sky is heavy and the air damp. And, this poem just seemed to fit.

My November Guest

by Robert Frost

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

Friday, January 14, 2011


We had a huge (for South Carolina) snowstorm this past week. It started late Sunday night and snowed all day on Monday, ending with freezing rain and sleet Monday night into Tuesday. When It was all said and done, we probably had about 7 inches on the ground. A big, big snow for us!

Typically, in the south, we will have a couple of inches during the night, and by noon the next day, it will warm up enough to melt most everything away...not this time. We had several days after this one where it never even got back to 32 degrees...

The road crews were swamped just trying to keep the Interstates and Highways clear, and couldn't clear the main or secondary roads, much less out of the way neighborhoods and country streets. So, we were homebound for the better part of a week. Schools were closed and most businesses were shut down, at least for a few days.

I finally got to come back to work today (Friday)! It was so nice to get out of the house and back outside!

A couple of days after the storm, the sun came out and began to thaw things a bit. The photos below were taken on Wednesday, and the roads were still pretty bad. One of the problems we have here, is the terrain is very hilly. On Thursday, Ben and I managed to get The car out of the driveway. it took about 30 minutes, a bag of salt, a shovel, some hot water, and lots of determination. We even managed to get out of our neighborhood, but we weren't able to conquer the first semi-hill we came to. We made 4 running attempts, and would almost get to the top, before sliding backwards. We finally decided it wasn't worth ending up in the ditch.

Thankfully, we kept power during the whole thing and I was able to keep myself occupied creating glass and experimenting with Copper enameling. Below are some shots of what I worked on while snowbound.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Enameled Copper Experiment

So, I asked for and got a enameling starter kit for Christmas. Since I already have the kilns, I thought this would be fun to try.

The kit came with some of the stuff you need to get started. It also came with a couple of photocopied instruction booklets. These booklets are very thorough, but don't really seem to explain what to do with the items they included in the kit. They also look like they were written about 50 years ago and are just a bit vague on the details for beginners based on the stuff they sent. Since I have not done this before, I really need basic instruction. I think I will have to write a strongly worded letter to the company that sold the kit : )

So anyway, I finally watched some people on YouTube actually enameling copper, I read some stuff online and decided to give it a try. I really don't have a single clue what I am doing. I know seasoned enamel artists would be appalled at my technique, but anyway it's a start...

Several coats of robins egg blue, some brown, some red and then a misting of robins egg blue to finish.

This is supposed to be the back. It kept sticking to the stupid little multiple-piece metal standy thing that they included in the kit. Of course, there was no information anywhere in the cobbled together directions about how to assemble this contraption. However, they did include in the directions the need to coat the back with "flux" - whatever that is...they neglected to include it in their starter kit.

In subsequent tries, I did figure out a little more about how to set up the little Grover so that the piece balances on three tiny points...less sticking.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Red Sketchbook Project: 10

The final installment...thanks for your patience!