Sunday, October 31, 2010

So You Want to Be A Glass Artist. Part II: Tips for Developing Designs

Because glass can be expensive, especially when you have to buy a separate sheet of glass for each color you use, it's best to start with a design to minimize waste. The benefits of using a design include:
  • Determining the right proportions before you start cutting the glass
  • Determining the right color combinations before you start cutting the glass
  • Speeding up the time to create the glass piece - a lot of time can be spent figuring out how you want to put a piece together when you don't have design. This becomes more important as you make glass for a business rather than a hobby.
One key lesson that I've learned is that if a piece doesn't look good going into the kiln, it won't look good after it comes out. Although having a design can minimize this, it still can happen - which is due most of the time to the color of the actual cut glass compared to the color in the design. If it does, it's worth re-working the designs and colors to get a piece that'll make you happy. While many believe that the firing transforms the glass, I've never had something that I didn't like "magically" transform in the kiln to something better.

To create my designs, I like to draw them out on graph paper to get a sense of proportion. Some people also create sample tiles of the fired glass to determine the right colors to use. This is especially useful for those glasses that strike or change color when fired. I didn't take the time to do this when I first started and found out the hard way that some colors that look like they work together unfired, do not afterwards :(

Because of the many forms of glass, glass artists can create any design that appeals to them. Cut glass is more prone to blocks of solid colors. Glass powders and frit add the option for blending and the use of shapes would be difficult cut (notice holly leaves below).
A more advanced use of frit is called frit-painting which uses glass powder and frit to create a picture or painting over multiple firings.

Kiln-carving adds depth as well as design. This technique involves cutting a design out of fiber paper and letting the glass slump into it.

For more complex work like with glass powders, may artists develop test tiles or miniature pieces to test the colors (because the color of powders become darker in proportion to amount used) and techniques. In fact, I would recommend creating test tiles for any new form of glass fusing. At the beginning, most glass fusers create test tiles of how the glass fuses together at different temperatures. Fusing temperatures also contribute to the design. Glass fused at lower temperatures will have a raised design while those fused at higher temperatures will have a flat design.

While it can be fun to try a variety of disparate designs, consider developing a set of designs that you can explore. This gives you a body of work that's more cohesive and allows you to delve deeper into the technique. As you continue to explore, you may find this work inspires new designs. Exposure to other glass artists and learning new glass techniques also opens you up to new glass designs. I know I already have a year's worth of designs that I'd like to do. Glass is one of those areas where there's always something new to learn and something to inspire you to create something different.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tips but I'm looking for information regarding on etched glass, would you mind to give me perfect blog about it?