Monday, March 29, 2010

Get Started Decorating!

With Spring here, the sun is out and the window coverings are open to let in the light. Glass looks wonderful in the light, so this is a great time to get started!

For those of you who are hesitant because of "glass is fragile," fused glass is much more durable than you think. Each piece is made from at least 2 layers of glass. If you feel a piece, you'll find that it's pretty thick and heavy. I can attest to having dropped at least 3 coasters from 3-4 feet in height on concrete with no chips or breakage!

Getting Started
1. Focus on one room at the beginning.
Look for areas to display glass -- empty shelves, tables, wallspace -- or items that you want to replace or update. Take measurements, especially when you are limited in height or width. Having the right sizes allows you to purchase an item when you see it. As most glass art is not mass produced, you don't want to have someone else purchase the piece that's just right for your house because you need to go home to measure. Most artists, like me, want you to be thrilled with your purchase and are willing to exchange the item if it's not right.
2. Determine your color scheme.
Think about what colors you love, what colors you have and what colors you want to have. If your room is a neutral color like beige, you can add just about any color. Glass can also help you update your colors by adding in a new color and swapping out the old accent color. Finally, glass can enhance your existing color combinations as long as it's a complementary color. For example a blue and green room could add third color such as purple or yellow, especially as an accent color.
3. Add pieces to other rooms as you find them.
What will happen as you start to look is that you'll find something you love that's not in the color scheme of your focal room. If you love it and think it will fit somewhere else in house, then get it. Often after I find a glass piece I love, I walk around the house looking at the different places it could go. I may have an idea when I buy it (sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong) but I always find a place for it :)
4. Display the glass as is or make it more functional.

As as enthusiast, I prefer to display glass as it is. However, you could also make it functional as well. For example, you could place a candles on a glass plate or fruit on a platter. I do have one functional way I use glass and that's with coasters. I put 3 under a set of candles and use the 4th under a liquid soap dispense. This adds a nice touch of color to both the candles and the sink area.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

7 Easy Ways to Decorate Using Glass

As a glass enthusiast, decorating with glass comes naturally to me but it is not intuitive for most people. Here's a couple of tips for how to display your glass pieces:

Glass Plate, Platter or Dish Laid Flat
1. Display medium to large glass items as a centerpiece on a table such as a coffee table, kitchen table or dining room table.
2. Group the glass in a set of 3 on a table or credenza with either all 3 pieces being the same size or with the middle one being larger. Smaller glass items like dishes can also work on a desk.

3. Use it alone as an accent piece on a side table.

Glass Plate, Dish, Bowl or Panel in a Stand
Placing the glass in a stand gives it a whole new look and displays more of the color and design.
4. Use a focal piece surrounded by other glass objects. A tip that I use is to buy relatively inexpensive solid-colored glass vases or bottles a place like Target or West Elm. Other items such as candles can also be used. These add depth and interest but keeps the focus on the original piece of art. Typically, these are grouped together as a set of three with the original art piece in the center.

5. Use it alone as an accent piece on a side table. This also works with a mantel, especially when there's a picture or TV in the center.

6. Place a glass panel in a wrought iron stand to showcase the glass!

Glass Plate or Panel Mounted on the Wall
7. Mount the piece on a wall to show off your art. This especially makes a statement when multiple pieces are grouped together. There are a number of ways to mount glass ranging from shelves with ledges to sophisticated-looking silver metal posts (two on the top and two on the bottom, close to the corners) to invisible mountings where the glass is glued to a post from behind. My personal favorites are the metal posts and invisible mountings, which I provide upon request.

Why Decorate with Glass

I started as a glass enthusiast long before I became a glass fuser. I love the color and transparency of the medium. In fact, it was my love of glass that prompted me to try making fused glass once I learned that it was possible to take classes and make it on your own. Because decorating with glass comes naturally to me (glass pieces are literally throughout my house in every room), I thought I would share some of the many ways glass can be used to add color, vibrancy and sophistication to enhance your home. But first, I would like to discuss some of the benefits of decorating with glass.

1. Glass can easily introduce a new color to a room.
Most people tend to have neutral colored homes - cream colored walls, a beige couch and brown furniture, which is normal. If you are looking to add some color, adding a few glass pieces are an easy way to turn an ordinary room into something that is more unique and makes a statement, especially if it's displayed in a prominent place such as a centerpiece or in a stand. If you look through any of the home decor magazines most rooms do have a neutral base with a splash of color that pulls the entire room together. Other accessories that add color include items like pillows, throws, table runners, and candles.

Also, today's home layouts tend to be more open with rooms (and their color schemes) tending to flow into one another. This becomes especially apparent when you move. For example in 1996, we had a blue and white colored kitchen/family room and a green and cream colored living room. This was fine when the rooms were separate but once we moved to Seattle in 2001, we were in a place where all the rooms flowed into one another. So, to bring some sense of cohesion, I picked purple as the "transitional" color that would be consistent throughout all the rooms. My kitchen and family room became blue and purple (the white was replaced with silver accessories and stainless steel appliances) and the living room and dining room became green and purple. It was easy to use glass to add that color. While other accessories also help to add color, glass tends to be more eye-catching and thus, makes a statement due to the richness and transparency of its color - so a little goes a long way! Adding this new color was a much more effective way to bring the house together than to completely redecorate the rooms.
2. Glass makes a room more contemporary and gives it a fresh look.
Most people think that glass is meant to be displayed in an ultra-modern "Design Within Reach" style home and that it can't be used in their home. To give an illustration of how it can, I'll share a personal example. In the late 80's and early 90's, I admit that my home decor had more of a country style (which was "in" at that time) with the blue and white striped side chairs and a couch with floral chintz over a blue and white stripes! To update this, in the mid 90's, I replaced all of my "country accessories" with cobalt blue glass. It gave the whole room a more contemporary feel for a relatively low investment.

3. Original objects of art can make the room more special.
This last point is a little more general. Everyone remembers their home decor souvenirs purchased on vacation. The ceramic dish from Cordoba or painting from Paris evokes special memories and means more than the vase from Z Gallerie or wall hanging from a local furniture store. In today's economy, we all don't have the luxury of traveling abroad for our home decor but we can get that specialness when we purchase a piece of original art directly from the artist. Connecting with the person who created the piece adds something more to it. The more you know about who created it and how it was made, the more interesting and sentimental that piece becomes. And isn't it true that even when you want to give a special gift, you're more likely to pick up something hand-crafted.

Anyway, I hope I've provided some insights to the benefits of using glass as part of your home decor. In my next post, I'll share tips about how you can decorate with glass.