Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bending stringers and cutting dichroic...

Tonight, we started the class period by creating a dichroic element for addition into our finished plate. I didn't snap a before picture, but it really won't make much difference as with the low firing temperature (1425 degrees F for 5 minutes) I was really just aiming for a tack fuse; something to hold the pieces in place. But, the kiln is still at around 350 degrees F, and it shouldn't really be opened to prevent the glass inside from stressing and potentially cracking. However, since the pieces that were fired are thin and small, and will be fired again into the final project; I opened the lid quickly to get a quick snapshot (which was very dark and I had to overexpose using a little digital photo editing so that you can see any detail at all).
After my student programmed the kiln (with a little guidance), we began working with stringers and candles to create more decorative elements for next week when we cut the pieces apart and put them back together.
Here are some retro-y looking square swirls that I created by holding the stringer over a candle flame and manipulating with tweezers. You simply hold the 1mm stringer over the flame (at the very tip of the flame) until it starts to bend with a little pressure. If it starts to move in a direction you weren't expecting, simply pull back out of the flame to cool before heading back in to reshape.

Playing in the flames made me want to get back in the hot shop. It's not exactly the same as working with a glory hole, but the concepts are similar...just a bit.

To finish up the session, we broke out the Glassline paints and paintbrushes to decorate some Thinfire. (This, too, will be an element for our finished plate.) At this point, my 2 year old niece decided that she wanted part of the action, as well. While sitting watching mommy paint with the green paints, she chimed in, "Me paint;" and even though I kept telling her we'd paint the next time she came over, she pressed on. "Me hold paper." Mmm, okay..."Me paint." Oh,, she did:) A little pink, some red, a bit of orange, and a lot of water. She's on her way to becoming the world's youngest glass artist, perhaps?
Alongside, mommy and my niece's pieces is a sample that I created to test my theory of Thinfire being paint-able and fire-able. It worked, so I added some powdered polka dots to up it's interest level.
I also assigned some homework. In order to incorporate all of the techniques we've been experimenting with into one plate and make it look spectacular, we are going to cut up our sample tiles; maybe not all of them, but definitely some of them. I warned my students from the get go. "Do not get attached to the individual tiles." It is hard. I speak from experience. In fact, just this week I was finally able to cut up a particular painted piece that I made over a year ago for inclusion in another piece. It was a beautiful pattern, but it was also not a stand alone piece. I'll unveil pictures soon;)
I not get attached. This is actually a good mantra for glass art in general, as you never "really" know what's going to happen in the kiln. Sure, MOST of the time everything turns out as you expected (once you know what to expect). However, there's always the chance that something will shift, an element goes out, a program went wrong, a bubble formed...It's a great practice in letting go. So, to further this practice, we'll be looking at our sample tiles through "viewfinders" (squares cut out of a white cardstock). We'll move the windows over our tiles to see what particular areas will look like when we cut them. Hopefully, this will aid in the letting go of the tile process, to break the pieces down into smaller parts in order to create a new composition. I'm really excited for next week, when we'll start to cut the tiles apart and then piece them back together.
One last little "food for thought." Next week, we will potentially be incorporating dichro slide into our compositions. It's a very subtle look and adds a nice, shimmery appearance. Above, I fired small sample stripes between two layers of stained glass (from the same sheet). It seemingly does not need to be capped, but I haven't poked at it with anything aside from my fingernail.

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