Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I find myself with lots of little bits of glass rod left over from a project. Glass color usually comes in the form of a glass rod, typically about a kilo of color. For a blown piece, the amount of colored glass is very small in comparison to the overall piece. The majority is just clear glass. You take a hammer and chisel or something similar to break up the glass rod into smaller chunks to be used in the blown piece. But breaking rods in this way, no matter how careful you are, results in broken pieces that aren't big enough for a single piece. And using multiple chunks of one color results in a piece that has veiling and shadows where the chunks overlap causing density differences in the color.

I don't like to throw things away. See the previous post on that topic here.
So in the bottom of my glass color box I end up with a lot of odds and ends. They are still perfectly good. Glass is expensive. Throwing it away seems foolish.

So I decide to make things with these leftovers. This bowl is just one example of using the leftovers.

When I sold it, I had named it "Great Red Spot" because of the red swirling colors that reminded me of pictures of Jupiter and its surface storms.

But now, on further thought, perhaps I should have called it "Ragu" - as in "its all in there".

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cool Shadows

This photo demonstrates one of the reasons I like glass. No other material can change so much depending on the conditions you view it.

I was selling at an outdoor art fair a couple of years ago. One of the pieces I had on display is nice, but I never realized quite how nice until this happened.

It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was getting lower in the sky. I happened to look at the table that this piece was sitting on. The thing that immediately struck me was the shadow of the piece on the tablecloth. I quickly grabbed my camera and got this one picture. Of course, ten minutes later the sun had gone behind the tree near my booth and the shadow was gone.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grinding a Pillow

This piece combines optical crystal glass, the clear part, and a slab of a Bullseye casting billet glass. I made this during the same time as the "Bird" sculpture. This piece is quite interesting. It's about 6" high, 4" wide, and ranges from about 1" to 1.5" thick. The two glasses were glued together with a glue called "Hxtal" which is an epoxy that is able to be ground and polished much like the glass. In this piece the amber glass started out as slab about 1" wide.

The optical crystal slab represented the rest of the piece, about 5" wide. The two slabs were glued together and then ground and polished. The blank was a rectangular slab but I ground it with a reverse twist. This means that the top twists one way and the bottom twists the opposite direction. This isn't easy and you need to develop a rhythm when grinding to keep the twist uniform and, probably more importantly, not lose control over the piece. I also sloped the front top face to provide even more visual interest. The end result looks like a pillow that has been fluffed and placed on a bed.

The pictures are even more interesting in some respects as the capture some of what you see, and some things you don't notice when looking at the sculpture directly.
For instance, the picture above looks like the piece comes to a point on the bottom, and yet the bottom is actually flat and the piece stands up perfectly fine. The picture below it looks as if the bottom is rounded.

Finally, note the amber color and how its looks like it is all throughout the piece. In fact, the amber is just along the left edge and the highly polished crystal is reflecting and refracting throughout the piece giving it a different look depending and where you view it from.

I owe a lot to the instructor, Martin Rosol, who taught the coldworking course at Corning that I attended. He showed me the possibilities of introducing complexity in a piece by utilizing the optical nature of the glass itself.

Sometimes simpler is more complex and interesting.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


My wife claims I'm a hoarder. I don't think I am. Especially not after seeing the crazy TV shows about clean houses, hoarders living in/with cat feces, and the like. But I do tend to keep a lot of stuff around that I might, however little that chance might be, use sometime in the future.

This piece shows how I used two of those carefully packed away "treasures". I'd been glass blowing for a while, but wanted something I could work with at home. Blowing glass at home isn't for the faint of heart nor the weak of wallet. So I got a little 13" octagon kiln and started playing with fused glass.

One of the very first pieces we made was a slumped plate using a lot of scrap strips on a transparent green base. I say we - as in "my wife and I", she was all gung ho at first, but she lost interest pretty quick. Once it was fused and slumped the plate wasn't all that wonderful. It was dog-boned in as we'd heated too long, too high temperature, and all the other myriad mistakes one makes when starting out. It was an OK plate, but it fell into one of my "I have a use for this someday" tubs.

On a side note, I keep everything in those blue plastic tubs you get at any of the big box stores these days. I watch for sales and bought them by the dozen. I have about 20 of these filled with Christmas decorations, and another half a dozen or so filled with the outdoor holiday decorations. These are not part of the "Jeff hoards everything" collection. There are about 30 or so tubs stacked in the pole barn - they do stack quite well - filled with "stuff".

Another item in one of the "cool glass things I may use one day" tubs, is the small pyramid shown in the picture above. I cast this in a mold I have out of glass powders. I should have known better but it shrank quite a bit as the powders melted. I knew that. But it didn't turn out quite as big as I wanted - can't even remember the project it was going to be used for anyway - so I put it away for future contemplation.

I found the two items one day and had this crazy thought - could I fuse the pyramid to the plate. So I sawed off the dog-boned edges of the plate, turning a 12" square into about a 10.5" square but was able to save the pattern. I loaded the plate in the kiln on the slumping mold and contemplated the firing schedule. I was worried about the pyramid deforming and that would just be ugly. I set the thing to ramp up very slowly and go to a very low tack fuse point. I then watched it carefully to make sure it didn't deform. The piece had to have a very long anneal cycle. So I waited patiently until the next day and it did survive. There is some slight rounding on the edges of the pyramid, but not too bad. The pyramid is solidly fused to the plate. I can't tell if there is significant stress, but its been through about 9 months of sitting out on the shelf, including two periods of no heat (don't ask), and seems to be surviving OK.

It will probably end up back in the "what the heck I'm I going to do with this thing" tub pretty soon as it still isn't one of my favorite pieces, but it did show the way for some sculptures I've been pondering.
Anyway, I found it

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wondering What to do...Revisited

In the last
post I explained a bowl I was pondering. I was thinking of sandblasting parts of the bowl and rim to give a matte effect. I finally quit procrastinating this past weekend and polished the rim of the piece. I haven't taken any pictures yet to post, but I really like the look. It isn't a high-gloss polish like optical crystal glass can impart, but it does give a more finished look.

I never intended this piece to take so long to get to a finished state. I'm still not sure if it's there. I'm calling it "complete", at least for now. I know I'll revisit it sometime later. I need to move on to other projects.

I'll post a "finished" picture next time I get the camera, tripod, light box, photo tent, extension cords, and most importantly, the time to take some better quality images.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wondering What to Do...

This bowl is driving me a little crazy. I made the basic bowl during Marty Kremer's workshop at Corning this year. See my previous post about that workshop here. This is a quick and dirty photo to show what I'm talking about. The left half of the bowl is clear and the right half is glossy white.

I made the pattern bars that run down the center at home before I went to Corning. There I created a round blank by laying up strips of white and clear, along with the pattern bar, in a 12" round shape. Once this was fired, I realized how nice the piece was turning out. The blank was then slumped into a mold with fairly steep sides.

That was the easy part.

I really like the wide mouth/lip/whatever you call it look and proceeded to saw off and grind the lip. That is where I stopped and the consternation started. You see, I really had intentions of sandblasting the front and back, giving the whole piece a frosted look, except for the pattern bar area down the middle. The photo doesn't quite show it, but the piece is very shiny except for the lip where it was ground. I'd then use the goop mentioned in my post to make it have a nice satin finish.

But I really liked the shiny look for this piece. I really didn't want to "ruin" the piece by sandblasting. So the dilemma continues. I think I'm going to polish the rim to a high polish and see what the optics do. If that doesn't seem right, then I can always sandblast.