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For Season three of the 100 Moment in Mosaics project, I decided to explore the strip technique that I used for the background of the flower pattern from last year’s submission. It is a slow and very tedious process involving first cutting the strips to the correct size with the mosaic nippers, and then grinding down each piece to get just the right angle for a proper fit. It’s definitely a technique I’d like to explore more.
I first remember being wow-ed by this way of laying stained glass strips while in Murano for the Glass Art Society conference. The lovely textile inspired and pillowy pieces beckoned to me from the walls of Berengo Gallery. I was so entranced, I must have missed the artist’s name. (I’m still searching and will update here when I discover the talented person behind these wonderful mosaics! UPDATE: With help from a friend on the island, I can credit the artist, Dusciana Bravura.)
The One Hundred Moments in Mosaicproject is a non-juried collection of work representing the full spectrum of SAMA’s diverse and richly creative membership. For a third season, an open call was issued to members to create a 6” x 6” mosaic, using materials of their choice and original design.
The work of seasoned professionals is displayed alongside enthusiastic newcomers to the mosaic making process, culminating in 100+ moments of life rendered in mosaic by artists from all over the world.
This collection was presented on October 31 – November 3, 2019, at the Sculpture Objects Functional Art & Design Expo in Chicago, Illinois at the famed Navy Pier.
The collection will also travel to Tucson, Arizona for installation in conjunction with the American Mosaic Summit, May 12 – 17, 2020.
My first season participating in the 100 Moments in Mosaic project was Season 2, which was on display at SOFA Chicago and the Parthenon Museum in Nashville, TN for the SOFA conference. “Applique Mosaic” is pictured below.
For the upcoming 2020 artVenture program, I was honored to be the featured artist for collaborations! I enjoy being a part of the artVenture program because I believe it helps girls learn how to work together collaboratively and creatively, helping to develop crucial skills for a quickly changing world. No matter what career choices the girls make, being able to creatively problem solve and communicate well with each other are important life lessons.
I have been working with a different group or groups of Girl Scouts going on nine years now, and I like to work on new and different projects when we meet at Architectural Glassarts. Some of the projects can be repeated with different results, but I like to challenge myself with new ways of evolving the process. This year, I decided to see how the girls would do at translating bouquets of flowers into glass. I had a personal goal of getting on the torch and using some new tools that I picked up in Murano during the Glass Art Society conference in 2018. The girls would create the fused glass focal flowers, and I would create the filler flowers and leaves. (Did I mention I also have a degree in Horticulture and took some Floriculture and flower arranging classes in college?)
It was a whirlwind two hours that we met, and I demonstrated how to safely work with glass, then the girls worked at cutting and piecing together flowers to go in the kiln for fusing several pieces into one.
After the flowers were fused for the first time, they had to go into the kiln a second time to take their shape. (The temperature at which glass melts together is higher than the temperature at which it starts to “slump” or fall around a ceramic mold to take a three dimensional form.)
Once the flowers are fused together and have taken shape, it’s time to build the armature for the sculpture and mount them. After a trip to multiple hardware stores to find just the right pieces and parts, I was able to solder the armature together and attach the flowers.
At this point, the flower sculptures look pretty naked. So, summoning my floral arranging days, I gathered some glass and hopped on the torch. While I was in Murano for the Glass Art Society conference in 2018, I picked up some tools from a famous and high quality glass tool maker shop, Carlo Dona; specifically a bell flower mold. (I love the shape of these flowers, which would make great jewelry, as well, which I think is what most folks actually use them for. )
After a couple of sessions on the torch, I had a collection of smaller leaves and flowers that I could arrange around the larger flowers to fill in the space and really make the fused glass flowers stand out! I can’t wait for the girls to see our bouquets hanging this spring for the only fundraising event for the Girl Scout Spirit of Nebraska. Proceeds from the event support statewide programming and a financial assistance fund to provide opportunities for more girls to participate in fun leadership activities, like artVenture!
I’m excited to share an interview I did with Renae about the glass projects I’ve worked on with the Girl Scouts during the artVenture program, and then Girl Scout Annaliese shares the highlights of her 6 years in various artVenture collaborations.
From the ArtVenture FAQs:
“artVenture is an annual event where small groups of girls are matched with artists in their communities. Together, they create a piece of art from conception to completion. Through this project, girls learn a new art medium or technique, work closely with an artist in their studio, and get to know other girls interested in the same art form. Girls also make a small piece of art to take home as a keepsake. Participating girls and their families are invited to a reception, where they can view the collaborations on display and celebrate their contribution.”
The Luminary Award was created with kiln formed glass. After drawing out the design and selecting glass colors, the glass was hand cut and pieced together in several layers and dammed and fired in the kiln. After firing, the piece was sandblasted and cold worked to recognize the award recipients.
The award ceremony typically accompanies the Winter Lights festivities such as a tree lighting ceremony, a choir singing carols, cookies and hot chocolate, and sometimes Santa and Mrs. Claus drop in to visit.
“Winter Lights is an annual event to mark the change of seasons and to celebrate the people in our community who light up our lives and make our City a great place to live,” says former Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler in a news release on Nov 22, 2017.
City officials involved in the award selection process were hoping to echo the look of the Tower Square in downtown Lincoln, which was designed by internationally acclaimed, Omaha-based artist Jun Kaneko. The accent of the square is the glass tower, “Ascent”.
For this year’s artVenture workshops, I invited Daisies and Brownies to the studio for one session and Juniors and Cadets in for another session. During the studio visit, I like to bring them into Architectural Glassarts so they can see a real, working studio.
While we wait for everyone to arrive, I like to start a casual conversation with the girls that are there to find out where they go to school, how old they are, learn their names and hopefully open up the conversation so that they can make new friends and start getting comfortable with other girls that they may not already know. I’ve got a variety of ice breaker games that are derived from drama activities to help the start the fun and get the creative juices flowing.
It’s important that they be comfortable enough with each other to be able to communicate and share their ideas because they need to collaborate on a piece of art that will go up for auction in a few months at the annual artVenture gala.
In years past, I’ve brought in images of famous artwork for the girls to get inspired by and recreate in glass. This year, I brought in images for the older girls to look at and be inspired by. But, I asked them to put a name on what was inspiring them about the particular images they chose. Then, we divided into groups based on the images that everyone felt drawn to, and each group discussed the ideas that they had for subject matter for the collaborative fused glass art piece. Some groups were on exactly the same page, while others had a more give and take design process. The 12″ x 12″ pieces were made by the Juniors and Cadets.
With the Daisies and Brownies, we talked about symbols and their meanings instead of looking at artwork. Each group came up with a list of symbols that they wanted to work on. Once an symbol was agreed upon, they sketched out their ideas and then those sketches were blown up to fill a 12″ x 12″ paper.
Each group learned how to safely cut glass using mosaic nippers. Then, they learned how they needed to fill in their design and add bridges, making sure all the pieces overlapped so they would fuse together in the kiln.
After making their collaborative pieces, I like to make sure that all the girls get to make something to keep that will remind them of their experience, generally this is a pendant or a suncatcher of some sort.
During my last visit to Flowing Stone Art Gallery in Beatrice, Nebraska, I was able to slip into the public library to see my piece installed. The remodeling of the library has taken a bit longer than planned, so the piece has been waiting to go up for awhile. It looks so great on the wall, all lit up in it’s own framed light box. I heard that the family who commissioned it was all really excited to see it and happy with how it turned out. It’s a memorial piece for their father, and they all agreed that he would have been very happy with it.
The window is a combination of techniques in glass. The whole thing is leaded together in the traditional leaded glass technique. The cloud and the church are painted on with stained glass paints that are fired in the kiln to be permanent. The flowers are glass on glass (GOG) mosaics, glued and grouted, then leaded into the panel. The landscape glass is all fused glass, with several bits of glass tacked together to make it layered and textured.
To view the window in person, visit the newly remodeled Beatrice Public Library.
This year’s projects were a bit of a departure from the norm, as I wanted to experiment with a few different techniques to see how the girls interpreted them. I was not left disappointed!
The Daisy and Brownies made fused glass flowers to be incorporated into fused glass sun catcher / windchime pieces, while the Juniors worked together to make glass on glass mosaics with the theme and title of their choosing. Below, the finished pieces are: “Love,” “Hope,” “Fire,” and “Fish.” Very elemental and encouraging!
This year’s artVenture collaboration took place once again at Architectural Glassarts in Lincoln, Nebraska. For the collaborative pieces, the girls picked a master’s painting to interpret with fused glass. Check out this great article in L Magazine to read all about it and see more pictures!
Each year for the Girl Scouts artVenture collaborations, girls of all ages come to create together in a working studio using glass as a medium for a work of art that will be auctioned off during the annual fundraiser for the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska.
For this year’s collaborations, the girls learned how to make their own custom frit blends by crushing glass to use as “paints.” After their collaborative pieces were ready for the kiln, each girl took time to design a piece for themselves. This year, the girls made a pendant and suncatcher to keep.
As a Girl Scout Community Collaborator, I work with Girl Scout troops to create glass art. Sometimes we meet for mosaics, but this post is all about glass fusing! Earlier this year, I worked with a Girl Scout troop from Council Bluffs, Iowa. There were 6 girls able to attend the meeting. We talked about how glass is made, how to “play” with glass safely, and how to create art with glass.
I give each girl two sheets of clear glass; one for a plate and one for a sun catcher. After digging through my scraps and piecing together their larger pieces, they can make pendants (or magnets) for the rest of the session. Generally, each girl will finish all three projects. Some may end up with more pendants, and some spend a lot of time piecing together the perfect plate (and need help from mom or friends to finish other projects).
After our session, the girls go home and I get to work! After cleaning up the work area and letting the glue dry (so the pieces don’t shift on the way to the kiln), I prep the kiln for firing. I need to coat the kiln shelves with kiln wash to prevent the glass from sticking to the shelf permanently. Then, I need to let the kiln wash dry or else the glass pieces end up with kiln wash stuck to them! I generally speed this part up by running the kiln up to 500ºF for 30 minutes and then letting it cool back down to room temperature.
Now that the kiln is prepped, I can load all the pieces in it. If I’m lucky, I can fit everything in the kiln at once. However, since I seldom give strict rules when the girls are constructing, I’ll sometimes have one piece that needs to go in the kiln at a different temperature. This is a decision I make based on my years of experience firing glass taking into consideration how much glass has been used, whether or not it’s even across the entire sheet of glass and how I know the glass will act in the kiln.
The glass comes out of the kiln in one piece, but it’s all flat. For the plates, I need to put the glass back in the kiln in molds to shape them and make them three dimensional. This is done in a separate firing because the temperature doesn’t need to get as hot as it did for fusing the glass together. (By the way, glass fusing temperatures are around 1480ºF, whereas slumping temperatures are only around 1250ºF.)
When all of the glass is finished firing, I clean up the edges. Sometimes little bits of glass will end up grabbing the kiln shelf and creating needles. I grind those off so that the glass art doesn’t bite! Then, I wrap it up so it won’t break and label it with each girls name, and they’re ready to be picked up! Generally the whole process takes 5-7 days. If this is something you’d like to do with your Girl Scout troop, please contact me for a list of available dates. Current pricing is $25 a girl, which is a steal!
This year’s artVenture took place once again at Architectural Glassarts in Lincoln, Nebraska. Thanks again to Rod Scott for his generosity in offering up his space! We started out talking about how glass is made, how it comes to the glass shop, how to cut it and what happens after it goes in the kiln. After the girls piece together the glass to create their design, the plates go into the kiln for an initial fusing that makes all the separate pieces into one. Then, the flat pieces go back in the kiln to get slumped into a mold. When, they come out of the kiln after the second firing, they have taken on the shape of the mold. Each group was given glass that was pre-cut to match the molds on their table. We broke into groups and started brainstorming themes for our pieces.
Kaity, Jessie and Hallie created “Cold Blaze,” a combination of an underwater scene under a blazing sunset. Can you see the fish, turtles and sea plants?
Belle, Emma and Carrie came up with a seasonal theme to go with the four molds they were presented. Clever, huh?
Paige, Anna and Hallie created an abstracted sunset for their piece…
…which leaves the last and largest group. This group of 6 were given glass blanks, but no mold. Generally, I coach the girls as they make their collaborative pieces which are donated to the artVenture auction. Additionally, I submit a piece of my work to be auctioned. This year, I wanted to try something different for the last piece. So, the girls made the blanks that would be cut up to become a larger panel that was pieced together and framed by me. I wasn’t sure how they would react to the suggestion that they would make something specifically so it could be cut apart again. However, I think the fact that they don’t get to keep the collaborative piece anyway really helps. (All the girls do get the chance to make fused glass pieces to take home. This year they all made 4″-6″ plates and jewelry pieces.)
I absolutely love how the panel turned out and once again all the girls made fantastic fused glass art!