Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Little Bit of Deconstruction

This week has been exciting as I am working with some new opportunities to be creative.  Time in the Studio always restores my soul.  I am feeling very blessed and lucky to have such wonderful support from my husband who encourages me to 'follow my bliss'.  The closing of my Gallery, Heron Point Gallery, has been the tipping point for reclaiming time.  As is always the case if you're paying attention, 'closing' also leads to an 'opening' for something else.  Yes, it felt sad that it was an end of an era and that I won't have contact with all my artists or their work on a weekly basis.  But it also feels so right.  I moved over a couple lit display cases to our restaurant next to the Gallery, White Cap Grille (small plug there for you Michael).  The cases will have my fused glass jewelry and glass platters, bowls and plates that are for sale.  I am also showing several of my fused glass mandalas there as well throughout the restaurant.

I'm currently working on an artist's book for an upcoming show in Portland next month.  It's a book that will hang from the ceiling and this week I designed the paper surface that I'll be using for that book.  (Oddly enough I used the same surface design as in one of my glass mandalas below).  I hope to have several 'books' that will be suspended to make one cohesive unit.  Another show that I have 3 books in currently is at the Wishcamper Center at USM.  The show titled, "Is That A Book" is a group show from a Critique Group that I'm in through the Kate Cheney Chappell Center For Book Arts.  These books are made from interesting materials all inviting the question, "Is That A Book".  I'm also preparing for the Book Arts Bazaar in April where I'm showing and selling some of my artists books as well as making a finished book that we'll raffle off during the Bazaar.   So book-making has been my other studio activity.  Someday I'm going to combine the books and glass.  I've made one glass book so far and I see more in my future.

So, back to second mandala, "Strong Women Can Say No" has been through quite a radical change.  It started out with the original 'center' from last semester which is pictured above.  After talking with my mentor, Claudette Gamache, the thought of cutting things up was definitely the way to go. It's always a challenge to cut glass that is more than 3mm thick.  This mandala was 3/8" thick so it took a little coercion to get it right.  I thought of using my band saw but that takes away too much of the glass in the cut.

I turned the cut up mandala over on the kiln shelf, keeping the circle design intact and filled in the lines with various glass frit in two different sizes.  My intention was to break up the writing in such a way that sill left the viewer with the idea that it was writing-even though non-legible.
At this point I fired it in the kiln to create one large square sheet of glass.  I used a pretty high firing schedule to give an even surface on the back (or the cream side of the glass).  What a great surprise to find the firing not only a success but when I flipped it over the frit lines on the front of the piece didn't fuse fully, but left them a delightful matt finish, almost pebbly.

 I felt I needed to do more work on the cream side of the glass which would be the bottom of the vessel.  Using a cut stencil I sifted black glass powder.  This added glass also enlarged the center portion and was going to become the lip of the vessel.

Another firing to fused the black powder on to the pieces of the lip happened before things really took shape.  I must say that a lot of cutting, sawing and grinding took place with this piece.  Coldworking glass has not been something that I paid much attention to but this piece really speaks to that.  Each part of the process changes the work so much.

This is the front of the mandala before firing.  I again added colored glass frit to the outside lip pieces.

This is the back side of the mandala before firing.
I know you can't see the front and back at the same time but I like that there is some connection to both in the design.  I played around with the colors of the lip and decided to keep it simple...saying NO to dichroic glass or anything flashy.

And this is the final piece.  It slumped in the clay form a little differently and I don't quite know why it came out slightly wobbly but I love the piece as it is.

After finishing this vessel, I was looking at all the glass I had left from altering the 5 mandala centers.  The original centers were all square and I cut them to circles so I had all these corner pieces and funky shapes left over.  I had an idea, why not take each mandala's cut offs and create a new smaller bowl with them, adding other materials as I thought fit.  And wow, how exciting that was!  The 6" discs that I created during their initial firing seemed precious.  Again I coldworked each of them into a circular shape that would work with the clay mold.  I also tried new methods of adding glass and had a few successes and raised a few questions about why some things happened that I will have to research.

This passion for glass has me all excited for what's next!  I'm itching to dive into the next vessel but think I should take some time to reflect and connect what it all means.  Having the MFA Pod Weekend this weekend is a perfect hiatus from Studio work.

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