I'm coming up on the end of my second glass fusing class, a 4-week intermediate session following a 6-week basic course. My friend Sarah and I undertook this adventure as a way to shake up our creativity and get outside our comfort zones. It has definitely done both, and has also been a really good form of meditation. Nothing puts distance between me and my worries like handwork.
I've really enjoyed the classes this month, since I now know enough about fusing and slumping to be able to conjure up ideas and troubleshoot problems along the way. During the first class, I didn't really know enough about what glass can do to really have much in the way of ideas. I think it wasn't until the 6th class that I really started to be able to play around! the dragonfly and star above were "what happens if..." pieces that I threw together in a few extra minutes at the end of that class.
The basic class offered by VisArts covers a new project/skill each week.
- Week 1: using a glass cutter, glass compatibility, basics of fusing. We put together small practice pieces that I'm using as suncatchers now. I'm really happy with the way they came out and love seeing them; they're in the window on my landing so I can see them from the upstairs hall, while going up/down the stairs, or from the downstairs hall and foyer.
- Week 2: practice measuring/cutting. Project: four 4" tiles. I realized after this how important it is to take some time during the week to plan a project. Sarah did a really cool set of coordinating pieces that her family is using as coasters. I came to class without ideas, very frustrating.
- Week 3: circle cutting. Project: 7" circular piece to be full fused, then slumped through a drop ring to form a bowl with a rim. (Another uninspired piece, and the colors I used don't come through nicely. Eh.)
- Week 4: more circle cutting and slumping. Project: 10" circular piece, full fused, then slumped into a plate mold. I had some ideas about using a steel blue glass that fires to silvery grey, with a clear section, and layering stringer both below and on top of the plate, giving some dimension. Love the result, although it tends to look fingerprinty and I'm not sure what to do with it yet!
- Week 5: fiber paper. It was odd to have a week in which we didn't cut glass at all. Instead, our instructor provided us with two rectangles of window glass to be slumped over a layered fiber paper design. I hadn't gotten my head around the idea until I saw it, stared for a long time at a blank piece of fiber paper, then did this.
- Week 6: we had the opportunity to do some etching, although I didn't, and mostly just played around in the studio. I messed with bits of glass to see what kind of free-form things I could come up with, intending to use them later as Christmas ornaments.
The intermediate class has been fun - the members are a mix, including one beginner, two "novices" (that's us), and two advanced students. We come up with our own projects and ask for instruction in methods we're interested in learning. Sarah and I chose to learn how to make pattern bars the first week, then how to use the tile saw to slice them up the second week. This past week we learned the ring saw (that's me using it above). S did some combing and I'll try it next week, in addition to learning how to sand cast. I need to find something around my house (what??) to cast.
So far no photos of finished work to share from this class, since I've been working on a couple of projects that incorporate multiple steps and several different methods. One project is a slumped plate that incorporates slices of a pattern bar. Another project is a draped vase that includes some items cut out on the ring saw last week. I'm excited to see them in finished form, although that won't happen for more than a week. Oh, the suspense! After that we may take a glass break until fall, which will hopefully give me some time to think of some great new projects. Hmm, Christmas gifts?
Additional photos of glass class and more are in my crafty flickr set.