On the production side of the house, I have four series I really enjoy working on: Crystals, Sand, Shards and Stacks. I’ve talked about the first three a bit, and was getting around to Stacks when a commission piece blew up on me this morning. Damnation.
Many really talented artists (including Marty Kremer and Steve Immerman) assemble strips of glass on end and take them to a full fuse. They’ll then grind them down until they’re perfectly flat and even, for a very elegant look.
I’ve found I like keeping the rougher, strip-like appearance by using a tack-fuse to hold the components, and that’s essentially what Stacks is all about. It can be a challenge to hold that appearance. Too little heatwork and you get sharp edges (plus the piece tends to fall apart); too much, and the components go soft and gooey and start to pull in on themselves, spoiling the line.
Anyway, I figured it out with this piece, which remains one of my favorite non-sculptural pieces:
It measures about 10 inches across and maybe 4 inches high, and is laid up directly in the mold, not as a flat blank that’s later slumped. I cut the glass strips short and stagger them (much like you’d stagger strips in a hardwood floor), letting them follow the curve of the mold.
You really only need a single tack-fuse firing for this as a result. I tend to grind some edges and not others, enhancing the “wild” appearance of the color areas, and give it a second “fire-polish” session in the kiln.
Anyway, working on a deadline piece that I really wanted to work well, about 15 inches in diameter, 4 inches high and a more complicated mold than usual. Spent about 25 hours cutting and fitting strips, fired it long and slow, and opened the kiln this morning:
Apparently what I took for Bullseye French Vanilla..wasn’t. This piece should be creamy vanilla on either side of the color strip, with a couple of judicious lines of color inserted for contrast. Instead I’ve got this nasty purply-grey stripey stuff and it’s pretty easy to see where I ran out of the first “French Vanilla” sheet and started on the next, isn’t it?
Sigh. I’ll take the bowl over to Bullseye and see what I actually did use instead of FV–I don’t recognize it. Maybe I got it out of the “experimentals” bin and mislabeled it. In any case, it’s my own dumb fault and a good lesson to be more careful about labeling scrap.