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In Defiance of Gravity

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

I took class with Alicia Lomne in 2017, just a few months after getting my first kiln. It was a great class and I was pleased I kept up even with little to no experience in just about everything we did. I started playing around with unsupported patte de verre after coming home. I had a strong desire to find ways to defy gravity or rather balance forces during firing such that more free form, organic sculptural shapes would be possible with out molds. I didn't know jack about mold making and my clay skills were not particularly great, so I was hoping to significantly shortcut the process and be able to make some cool art before also having to do a mold and clay learning curve. Plus both processes are messy, really messy, and I was not sure exactly where to carve out studio space for them. Below are some highlights from the testing.

free form unsupported tests: Mr Lizard, 2 little bowls, test tile and little "beach sand" pinch

After doing some tests and having some promising results, with unsupported, free form patte de verre, I decided that since I had never slumped anything I should learn about that and circle back later. I had a lot of fun learning all about firing schedules and slumping. I also incorporated a lot of texture inspired by patte de verre into my designs.

Fully fired texture experiment

Fun textures

I had really hoped to be the first into this paradigm shifting space of what some call Glass Clay, but I wasn't, and as a Big Fan of Strategic Laziness. I was delighted to take class with Evelyn Baker at This Little Light Art Glass in Nashville.

Above are some lovely calla lilies we made as a class. Mine is the dark purple one with the white edging. Evelyn is known for her lilies. They are exquisite. Evelyn is a kind and knowledgeable teacher. She keeps a nice pace with many wonderful nuggets of learning sprinkled through out.

I'm excited about the mold making skills I picked up. I did a little experimenting on my own with mold making prior to class, but it wasn't a learning curve I was thrilled about. Did I mention it's very messy? so getting hands on with a variety of useful mold making techniques was well worth it for me, rather than having to watch You Tube and play around myself. We learned several extremely useful and fast techniques. The mess was kept to a minimum - it could be done on a small table, outside, on a nice day. I'm thrilled with what I learned.

We fired some things with out the support of molds and that was very cool too. I was going down this road myself thanks to Alecia's class, but it was awesome to leap ahead by studying with someone who's been at this longer than I. Honestly I'd be delighted to take a Glass Clay class with Alicia if she ever offers one. There's such a wonderful energy to making things with other glass artists. Otherwise being an artist can be lonely. Your creativity is dependent on your own drive, inspiration and light.

Speaking of lights...

Having a great host studio certainly helps too. Betty Turner is the owner of the studio and she has a way of reaching out to you even before you arrive and making you feel so very welcome. I think there were 13 of us and it was just the nicest group and the most enjoyable class. It was almost already like a reunion of old friends. We spent 4 delicious days learning and making. Chatting and laughing. Her studio is called This Little Light (after the song) Art Glass and yes, it was as uplifting as that grand old tune.

We also enjoyed the Nashville area. There are many wonderful places to eat and evening entertainment that you can work in if you like.

I look forward to an excuse to go back.

Meanwhile, back in my own studio, I've built on Evelyn's technique by using a different binder for capturing delicate, intricate, etherial detail right off the bat vs having to hand carve in so much. I'm thrilled with the shortcut because it means less dust, less work and less loss of glass. I'm still planning to take a class with Lois Manno called Modeling Glass Sculpting and I'm waffling because I don't really need it.

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