A passion for glass

This past year, I’ve been reconnecting with warm glass, a.k.a. kiln formed glass. My number one creative passion is anything glass. I find glass fusing extremely fun. From design concept, to the finished piece, there are a multitude of steps.

I always start by sketching the ideas that are always swirling around in my brain. Of course, I’m always open to the fact that the finished piece may not look exactly as planned. This is not a precise process, if it was, I would not be doing it. Next, the real fun begins! Choosing the right colors to use, although sometimes overwhelming, most times it can feed the creative juices I need to realize the piece. Now, the cutting begins. This is where I summon the safety gods. Its so easy for me to get so wrapped up in making the perfect score on the glass, that I forget that the piece can cut fingers. But hey, every smart glass artist always has a box of band-aids close by. The next step I call “assembly and tweaking”. This is where all the cut pieces come together. Of course, I have to tweak. I move pieces, replace pieces, change a color, etc. Some may call this obsessive, I call it artistic clarity. Finally, into the kiln it goes. This is where I summon the kiln gods, and pray that the piece melts the way I want it, and survives the kiln programming. I wish it was as easy as just turning a switch on. A lot goes into the different temperatures and timing you input into the program controller. With the programming, it’s the only way to attain just the right texture and shape of the piece. I would say that 98% of the time, it works out just the way I envisioned the piece. For the other 2% of the time, well, I will always find a way to re-use the glass. Most of the time, it means breaking the piece up, refusing it into a shape, and making a funky plate or bowl with it.

This is pretty much an over simplification of the process, but I’m sure it gives you a little insight into what it takes to create a fused piece of art glass.

Upcycling… half the fun is finding the rusty gold!

One of my art forms is “Upcycling”. Believe it or not, there is a difference between recycling and upcycling. Recycling takes consumer materials — mostly plastic, paper, metal and glass — and breaks them down so their base materials that can be remade into a new consumer product, often of lesser quality. Upcycling, on the other hand, is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful, and gives an item a better purpose. I like to call these discarded materials Rusty Gold.

For me, half the fun is finding the rusty gold. The city’s recycling dumpsters are a treasure trove of materials for my upcycling. Oh yes, dumpster diving is lots of fun, although I must clarify, I never go inside the dumpsters; that’s what handy garden rakes and long grabbers are for.

Swap meets, garage sales, thrift shops, as well as, flea markets are also a great way to get my materials. You know that old saying “one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure” — well, that is so true! Friends also are a great resource. They do their part by saving me bottle caps, bottles, jar lids, and corks just to name a few. Some friends will make quick stops along the side of the road to pick up discarded stuff for me to use. Sometimes I arrive home and find at my door a box full of cool bottles, or a box of old tins and broken tools. To me, its like Christmas!

The most fun is thinking outside the box! Recently, I went to the Santa Fe Flea Market with one of my dear friends, and she was amazed how I could see object differently. I picked up the reflector of an old utility light and she said, “but the electrical component is missing” I said “it’s a skirt for one of my characters”. She told me I had a fascinating way of looking at things. But the ultimate fun is the kick I get out of that “aha” look that people have when they figure out the objects that I’ve used in a piece, or the smiles I get when they see my whimsical characters.

So remember, Rusty Gold is all around us, and ready to be transformed into something whimsical!

Connecting with the “Inner River” of Creativity

Some admire creativity and acquire art as a means to enrich their lives. For me and others, it’s a passion and a way of life. Creativity is sometimes elusive. There are many times that its not easy to come up with new ideas. When this happens, I know that its time to connect with my inner river of creativity.

So you ask, what does that mean? Well, its different for everyone. For me, getting in touch with nature is one of the many ways I fuel my creativity. Sometimes, just a mere hike helps to clear my head. The beauty of the New Mexico landscape is very conducive to getting my creative juices flowing. There are times that looking at textures and colors can create a picture in my mind; be it tree bark, sand dunes, a rock formation, the color of a leaf or flower is all it takes. Sounds and smells can also help my creativity. Anything from listening to wind chimes, birds chirping, a coyote howling, listening to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, or simply the smell of fresh rain can fuel my inner river of creativity. These are just a few of the ways that help me generate my artistic passion.

If one is having a “creative block” its very important to unlock the creativity. Take a walk, smell the rain, listen to music.

Creativity is Flowing!

sketch pads and notebooks

A few months ago, my husband got a terrific job in Santa Fe as an Executive Sous Chef. His new position allowed me to go ultra part-time at work (2 days a week), so that I could concentrate on my artwork. Its amazing how having the extra days in my studio has helped my creativity. All these ideas keep popping into my head.

The one thing that I like to do is to write or sketch my ideas. I always have a sketch pad by my side. Whenever an idea flows through my head, it makes it into my pad. I have a dozen sketch pads from the many years of creating art. A while ago, I went through all my sketch pads, and was amazed that 99% of the sketches and notes came to fruition. I highly recommend keeping notes, it really does work!

Stay tune! More Creative Musings on the way.

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