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A New Chapter

Updated: Apr 17, 2019

I started Kiln Forming glass in the summer of 2017. First I made a studio. I plastered. We put in 240V, 50 amp electrical on a dedicated breaker, added cabinets, peg board, work benches and my takeover of Scott's wood shop was complete.

Fire proof backing and 240 V, 50amp electrical
Building the Studio

I was lucky to have a lot of help. I had taken one class on fusing at a local glass shop. Despite the one class that dabbled in a little of many kinds of kiln forming, like most people starting out I didn't know what size kiln to get and I didn't really know what kind of kiln formed glass would hook me.

Kiln helpers elves
One of my magic elf helpers, did I mention that I took over Scott's wood shop? He he he.

I started working with frit castings. I didn't originally think I'd want to work a lot in glass frit. Glass frit is ground glass powder or fines. It comes in 4 sizes and I now work a lot with powders and fine frit (think of white sugar and you have a good approximation of fine frit, powdered sugar is a good approximation of powdered frit). That means respirators, a HEPA filter on the shop vac and lots of studio cleaning in between projects. However I was gradually convinced.

sea horse, shell, star fish
My Frit Castings

I stumbled upon some really beautiful molds at Delphi Glass. I didn't know how to use them but I purchased one anyway. Later when I took my first fusing class, we got to try out different kinds of molds - some molds are made to sink down into sheet glass during heating, some are made for the sheet glass to go on top and sag into the mold and others are made to have ground glass - frit - placed into them for precise decoration and one of a kind color shading. Those molds are baked like kiln cookies or muffins :). Our instructor didn't like the frit castings and was openly disdainful of them but several of us chose those molds anyway. Her advice was mound the glass up and avoid powders. I did, and so my very first ones were horrible. I called them "the hockey pucks". She was a good instructor, we learned a little of everything; but frit castings just weren't her thing. The thing about glass and about art is that you "fall in love" with a technique and it takes you on a great journey, a love affair. You can't always predict just what is going to hook you. I don't know why "the hockey pucks" weren't the end of frit casting for me. They were truly hideous.

I guess it was because of Patte de Verre. A year earlier I had seen a Corning Glass Studio movie of the great pate de verre (glass paste) masters Kimiake and Shin-ichi Higuchi and I was quite taken by the color, light transmittance and sculptural quality of their glass. One has to be juried into a class with Higuchi, so clearly that wasn't in my immediate future. But Higuchi isn't the only fish in the sea. Alicia Lomne teaches and she is a true Glass Goddess. I took her class in August '17 and highly recommend it for any one (ANY ONE). I had almost no experience in clay / mold making. It was a tough paced class but I kept up. Alicia is a generous, skilled instructor, able to push you and also encourage you just when you most need it. A true master instructor as well as glass maker. To prepare for this class I made a bunch of frit castings, gradually perfecting my technique.

pate de verre, Alicia Lomne class
I made this in August 2017

castings, frit, patte de verre 90 coe bullseye Alicia Lomne
My practice frit castings next to a vase I made in class (the vase is upside down)

This summer I am planning to embark on exploration of additional Patte de Verre techniques. These techniques are more free form and while they can rely in part on casting or impressions they don't necessarily rely on firing in a mold. I had already started down this road on my own but I believe in strategic laziness.

This is a mold I purchased that is absolutely gorgeous. I bought it to make something for my sweet friend Tracey.

press mold fusing
Creative Paradise Mermaid mold

She and I have sibling german shepherds Fenris (mine) and Jager (hers).

Therapy dog and studio helper Fenris

I never would have purchased this mold, though with out a plan involving pate de verre. All the glass I've seen made with this mold is less beautiful than the mold its self. I really don't want that to be the case. I have a plan. Don't know if it will work. So far my first 2 experiments didn't really work out but I have another plan and if that fails, I have class in 2 weeks so there will be another plan! Wish me luck :).

A very challenging mold for a number of reasons

To be continued....

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