Friday, March 9, 2012

Riley Elementary Residency in Fused Glass

Mrs. Northup started the kids on their fused glass journals before the project started

I recently completed a month long residency with the 2nd and 3rd grade classes at Riley Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska. Funding for the project was provided by grants from Americorps and the Nebraska Arts Council, with Miss Mollie Magnuson of the Lincoln Arts Council (& Americorps) organizing the whole thing!
Cutting glass is fun!

Before starting with the first week's project of cutting glass, Mrs. Northup guided the class in creating both "I'm a Glass Artist" books (to document the process, and in teacher-speak...'Making Learning Visible'), as well as getting them started on a sketch...a highly detailed sketch that filled an entire sheet of paper!

Mrs. Northup putting the finishing touches on her samples to hang in the classroom

Before the second session, we decided which areas of our highly detailed sketches that we wanted to use as inspiration for the painted portion of the glass. We cleaned the float glass with denatured alcohol and painted our abstracted images with Unique Glass Colors.
We talked about emphasizing pattern, repetition and color to pull all the pieces together to look like one.

For our third session, we added texture to the glass pieces. After creating a cross with strips of fiber paper, we cut up other strips to add repetitive elements (such as lines, dots, diamonds, etc.). The cross became the channel inside the two layers of glass that allowed us to connect all the individual glass pieces into one. (Fiber paper doesn't burn up in the kiln, so the glass melts and seals around it.)
Miss Carrie putting all the pieces in the big "coffin" kiln

Before we could meet for our fourth session, the pieces needed to go into the kiln! Luckily, this fusing process was accomplished with just ONE trip to the kiln. The float glass fired to 1550ยบ Fahrenheit to full fuse the two layers of glass into one.
Kiln's loaded up and ready to go!

Miss Carrie's faithful sidekick, UJ (Uncle Jim) helped to remove all the fiber paper from the glass before the pieces were returned to the students for puzzling together into windows.
Post firing - float glass fired to 1550 degrees Fahrenheit

During the fourth session, we arranged our pieces into windows of 3 x 5 pieces. We discussed repetition, balance, contrast and lines to determine the best placement for each piece.
Painting a patina on the steel support rods

Assembly time! Mrs. Northup, Miss Mollie and Miss Carrie met during a vacation day for the kids to wire the windows together. We used 14 gauge copper wire, rubber coated beads as spacers and steel rods to support the glass curtains.
Wiring and beading up the pieces
Miss Mollie cheesing it up cuz we're almost finished!
At the end of the residency, we had an opening reception (Parent Teacher Conferences) with cookies and a loop of the photos of the kids working on the whole project. The title of the piece was chosen during the last session when one of the students asked if they would be "legendary," because their work will remain at the school. Classy, huh?
The Legendary Glass Art of the 2nd and 3rd Grades of Riley Elementary
I love how the finished pieces change from dawn 'til dusk. When the light is behind them, you see more of the texture of the piece. But, when the sun begins to go down, the colors pop and you've got a whole new viewing experience!

  • The idea for the project came from the book Creative Glass Techniques by Bettina Eberle. While some of the basic glass info is questionable, the projects and inspiration for projects is great!

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