Visiting the studios is a fascinating opportunity to catch a glimpse of works before they’re gallery-ready, and to see how our artists turn sparks of inspiration into the art you see displayed. In this series, we ask our Creative Gateways community to give us a behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration their and creative challenges. Today, Marika is sharing a new technique that she is experimenting with.
Marika takes a new direction
As glass artists, we take inspiration from all over the place – sometimes it’s nature or just the things around us, and sometimes it’s other art that sparks an idea. One of the best things about being based in Sedona is that this is a really creative city; its natural beauty is undeniable and there are tons of art galleries! There is always something new to inspire me to try something I haven’t done before.
Recently I went to Kuivato– a local glass gallery that is owned by a family friend. I saw a really beautiful glass piece that inspired me to experiment with a new way of working in glass. I don’t know if the method I’m trying is the same one the other artist used, but I’m excited to try my hand at getting a similar effect.
I didn’t do any research- I had an idea of how I might be able to make it work and just went for it. I started by cutting out two circular discs of glass; one red, one black. The basic idea is to fire the two together, and then use a sandblasting technique to carve a pattern out of the top layer of glass, allowing the bottom one to show through.
Once I had a smooth surface and a shape to work with, I affixed the stencil onto the glass and headed over to our sandblaster. Getting the initial pattern to show was easy, but carving all the way through the first layer of glass proved to be a lot more time consuming than I had anticipated. Since I was trying to get through 2mm of glass, I kept blasting the stencil off or wearing it down until the shape was no longer distinguishable. Once I had finally gotten some color to show through, I stopped and contemplated.. There HAS to be a faster way to do this!
I let it be for a couple of days and upon returning to work on it, I asked Terry for some input. What he suggested was using frit or glass powder on top instead of a sheet of glass- genius! So I tried it. When I got to sand carving the piece, it took much less time to excavate through the top layer and reach the color underneath. During this trial I also learned the importance of distance between the glass and the sandblasting hose- this was why my stencil kept peeling off! I observed that if I held the elements farther apart, it kept the image intact and actually gave a more even picture.
Now that I had my technique figured out, it was time to have some fun. I’m a fan of recycling or using up scrap glass, so I found a bunch of discarded glass and cut small pieces out of the bright colors. A clear square made up the bottom layer, and then I assembled the pieces together to create a puzzle of color. After that puzzle was fused in the kiln, I used a blank powder screen to sift an even layer of black powder over the color. Into the kiln once more, and then back to the sandblaster!
Third time’s the charm
The thin layer of black came off swiftly and easily, revealing a beautiful colored pattern underneath. I was ecstatic! I finally did it, and it turned out even better than I could have imagined.
The final step was to slump the finished design into a slightly curved mold. Now I have ideas for all kinds of ways to develop the technique. I’d love to try it using multiple layers of color. It’ll be a challenge to make sure I’m carving to exactly the right depth, but I think it will look really great with these geometric shapes.
Come see our latest experiments..
Whether it’s at one of our creative glass events or just stopping by for a spontaneous visit, we love to welcome visitors to the gallery. Come and catch up on Marika’s progress; find out what’s come out of the kiln lately, or talk to our artists about their current inspiration. We’d love to connect in person and show you around the space.