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!
This year’s group of Girl Scouts met me at Architectural GlassArts again for our fused glass collaborations. Girls age 8-16 years old participated, with most of the girls being in the 10-12 year old range.
After talking safety (how to cut glass, how to handle glass, wearing safety goggles while cutting), we discussed different ideas for themes of the plates. The girls divided into groups based on which mold they liked (and, of course, who their friends were), then began talking about the theme and colors they would be using. They dug through my scraps of glass to find pieces to cover the clear glass blanks that were cut to the size of the mold.
I didn’t give them any rules for constructing the plates, knowing that I may have to tweak the firing schedules a little. But, thankfully, three of the groups did two (glass) layer plates, which are easy-peasy to fire in the kiln.
And, as I had access to Architectural GlassArts big coffin kiln, I was able to fire all of the projects in one firing (except for “A Billion Sunsets” – read on). The “Big Kiln” measures approximately 30″ x 48″ and is able to accommodate a LOT of glass!
After the girls finished working on their collaborative pieces, they started making pendants & sun catchers that they get to keep. The collaborative pieces will be auctioned off on April 29, 2012 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska. (For tickets, contact Jenny Cardwell at 402.875.4345 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Most of the pieces were fired to 1440º F, which in my home kiln is a tack fuse, but in the “Big Kiln” is a full fuse. So the textures in the plates was a bit softer than I was going for, but not a big deal.
And then… I knew I was going to have issues when firing “A Billion Sunsets.” This piece was piled high with glass that was 3/8″ thick in some spots, but 1/2″ thick in others.
I wanted to full fuse the piece so that it had no more texture, but tons of depth! When you full fuse glass (to 1480º-1500º Fahrenheit), it spreads to become 1/4″ thick. That means that “A Billion Sunsets” would have spread out across the shelf to be bigger than our mold. The solution to that problem is to dam the glass in the shape that you want it. However…
I forgot to put ThinFire (special paper that doesn’t totally burn up in the kiln) down on the shelf, which means that air got trapped under the base piece of glass we built on. When the outer edges of the glass sealed shut against the kiln shelf, there was nowhere for that air to go but up and through the layers of glass above it. (Remember that air expands as it gets hotter, so that bubble may have started out really small, but as the kiln got hotter, so did the little bubble!) So, “A Billion Sunsets” will now have a brilliant sun where I fill in with some sparkly dichroic and some more glass…
Sometimes when you fuse glass together, you aren’t able to clean it thoroughly…this can lead to “devitrification.” Devit is a scummy, dirty looking fog that doesn’t clean off of the glass. There are a few things you can do to fix it. Here is how I’m fixing it: Sandblasting.
Notice the lovely mask and ear protection I’ve got going on. The mask is to prevent any silica carbide (the blasting media) from entering my lungs. Silica carbide is a black, shiny sand that eats away the surface of the glass.
After sandblasting the glass, it needs more attention. Now, it’s got a matte appearance that also absorbs fingerprints. So, next the pieces will go in the kiln for a “fire polish” and “slump.” A fire polish will turn the matte finish back to a shiny surface. The slump gives the flat piece of glass a 3-dimensional shape, turning our glass into functional plates.
During the month of February, I was able to participate in a program with the Homestead Girl Scouts in Lincoln. I was once a Homestead Girl Scout myself, and would have loved to participated in an art program like this one! I met with a group of sixteen girls on a Friday night. I explained the process of glass art, a bit about the considerations to keep in mind while working with glass, some safety information, and then they started working. Together, we made four different collaborative pieces for the auction, then each girl got the chance to make a sun catcher and fused glass pendant to take home!
From the application…”artVenture is an annual art auction fundraiser for the Girl Scouts-Spirit of Nebraska Council. A unique feature of the artVenture auction is the collaborative artwork created by local artists and area Girl Scouts working together. Girls learn a new skill, see how an artist works and collaborate with the artist and other Girl Scouts to create a piece of art for the auction. Artists get to demonstrate their skill and technique, expose future artists to a new medium, share what it means to be a working artist and have fun in the process!”