Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Coming up Mandalas

The Mandala Center from last semester


Creating mandalas is one of mine.  I draw them daily, sometimes just in my mind.  It is a way for me to focus, stay connected and meditate all at once.  As I wrap up this spring semester's work, I look back at all I have discovered and learned about the glass medium and myself through the creative process.  A few struggles and challenges with the glass doing things that I didn't want; colors not firing the way I would have liked; how my impatience playing a role in the integrity of the vessel; and the challenge of how much is enough, or when to stop, all things that gave pause to question how I was going to do it differently the next time around.  Good things happened too, like discovering how many times a piece of glass can be fired without changing it's viscosity or quality; how to work with layering frits and powders in ways to reduce the number of firings; developing a silk-screen process that works for me and manipulating dichroic glass in layers that challenge the eye.  I also have brought into play several large power tools to help cut and grind the glass into shapes that were impossible with just a hand held glass cutter.   I have to admit that I am looking forward to a few months off from such an emotionally rich body of work.  The Heroine's Journey, if one pays attention to it the way I have, is exhausting, but a good exhaustion and one that, I think, makes me a better person somehow.  Art therapy, if you will.

Here is the start of the last mandala vessel completed this semester, "Identification with the Masculine".  The imagery comes from the relationship with my father an engineer/draftsman, a quiet, soft-spoken funny man full of brilliant mathematical information.  It wasn't the math I related to with him but his love of all things wooden, books by Thoreau or any book written about the Maine woods and family history.  From an early age I was a 'daddy's girl' and would walk to the ends of the earth to be with him.  Being a "father's daugher" has enabled me to have a positive animus figure which has supported my creative efforts in an accepting, nonjudgmental way, just as my father did since I was little.

So here is the basic process for this vessel.  I have left several steps out so as to not bore everyone.  But I can say that parts of this mandala have been fired up to as many as 8 times, a new record for me.

Cutting away parts of the square mandala and cutting into others that will enable me to enhance the overall design.

Silk-screened designs on to cream glass with black frit powder to be cut up later and added as a design element.
A brown opal sheet glass was chosen for the backround piece.  Direction of the 'grain' of the glass was important.  The inner cuts mirrored the blue center leaving a gap for some frit.
I used silk screen printed glass around the rim of the vessel giving it some weight and connection to the center of the piece.

Here, using an opaque red powdered frit to fill in the voids from cutting and where sections meet.  The red should have been fired after putting down but my experimental nature wanted to see how far I could push the envelope, and it worked with great success.
A variety of frits on top of the brown opal sheet glass to give depth yet still show the brown background glass.
Clear frit is added in various thicknesses to even out the overall thickness of the entire piece.
On top of the very center I used a black powdered frit to enhance the mysterious writing to give another dimension to the depth of the piece, next time I would go a little heavier with this technique.
The fired piece in it's flat stage, before slumping into the ceramic mold.
The slumped vessel completed.
Here is the slumped vessel on the left and on the right is a smaller vessel designed and constructed from the cut-offs of the original square mandala center.  I did smaller bowls for each mandala and am amazed at what transpired.  It was a way of learning a new process without the fear of ruining a big piece, with freedom came some amazing results.
Each of the mandalas I made this semester in glass have such powerful connections to my journey.  The symbolism used is personal to me and viewers might not get it but that isn't why these were made.  I'm pretty pleased with this body of work and even though this summer break is so welcoming, I look forward to the next proposal for the next body of glass work.

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