Sunday, October 26, 2008

Arrowmont Fused Glass Workshop

Hello! I wanted to post a few pictures from the beginning glass fusing workshop I taught at Arrowmont this weekend. Fall is the perfect time to be Smoky Mountains!We had a fantastic, but fast-paced weekend! Starting with 2 electric kiln firings in our first session Friday night, we worked and fired till 2:30 this afternoon. I am so proud of my students and everyone seemed to get over their kiln firing fears!
Here they are! The wonderful, enthusiastic group of 11 from this past weekends class.
Tonight, I'm in Asheville, NC relaxing and switching gears. I get to be a student tomorrow in John Britt's glaze workshop. Cant wait!

I'll drop back in when I can.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shipping Work

With the holiday season quickly approaching many people will be shipping packages across the country and around the world. So whether you are shipping your own work, or gifts to family and friends, I thought I'd share what I've learned about preparing a package.

Having worked on the receiving end in galleries, I was able to see first hand how artwork of many shapes and sizes arrives to its destination. If you are an artist, how you pack your work reflects how you feel about your work. Sloppy packing seems to signify that you do not care. And if you don't care, why should the gallery? or the collector?

First, wrap each piece individually using bubble wrap, packing paper, newsprint, etc. I'm all for recycling newspaper, however, NEVER have the printed news pages against your work. The ink can rub off and damage the work. Protect the piece with tissue or other paper, and then cushion it with newspaper.

If you are wrapping something that has fragile limbs (teapot spout, mug handle, etc.), these should be wrapped and secured first. When the limb is secure, then the entire piece can be wrapped so that is is one solid piece.

Place wrapped work into a box, surrounding/floating the pieces in peanuts (ugh, the mess!) or similar packing material. For artists, always remember to include your business card(s) , any other promotional material, signed insurance/consignment forms, and a HAND WRITTEN note. If the gallery hasn't provided an inventory list, make one yourself to include with the package. Seal this box with packing tape. It should feel nice and solid, and you should hear nothing rattling around. This becomes your inner box. It then gets placed into a slightly larger box, and again surrounded/floated with peanuts or similar. (Often called the "box-in-a-box-with-peanut-float" method.) Top off the box with more peanuts.
Tape closed. Remember to thoroughly tape the bottom, as well as any opening on the sides. Again, it should feel nice and solid, and you should hear nothing rattling around.

If reusing boxes (which I always do), remove, cover, or mark through any previous shipping label. I have a FedEx account, so next, I measure and weigh the package myself (using a bathroom scale) and prepare my shipment information online. It's then ready for me to just drop off at my nearest FedEx location. (super easy!)

That's it. Usually, the hardest part is finding boxes the right size! I don't have much experience with shipping paintings/other 2D work or furniture/large sculpture needing crates. So, I'd love to hear your packing tips and advice! What have your shipping experiences been lately?

Happy Packing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to Write an Artist Statement

I read something similar in college about how to write a term paper, and I think the same method applies to Artist Statement.

How To Write An Artist Statement

1. Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, carefully selecting which mug you will drink from.
2. Sit down at the computer
3. Decide you should first check you email.
4. Then check your blog.
5. Now, jot down a few key words and phrases about your work.
6. Get up and get a dictionary.
7. Remember that there was something you needed to do for your husband/wife, children, cat, dog, goldfish, etc. that must be taken care of immediately!
8. Return to the computer.
9. Realize you forgot the dictionary, and get up again.
10. Re-read your outdated artist statement or any sample statements.
11. Surf the web. Check out Molly Gordon's artist marketing advice again.
12. Go look for the thesaurus.
13. Refill your cup of tea or coffee while your up. (very efficient!)
14. Return to the computer.
15. Spend time reading your favorite blogs and post comments.
16. Call your mother.
17. Write a few disconnected sentences, in an attempt to organize your thoughts about you work.
18. Realize it's time for lunch/dinner and stop for a "break."
19. Balance checkbook and pay bills.
20. Return to the computer, serious now about getting to work.
21. Why do you make the work you do?!
22. Decide you should go into the studio to look at your work again.
23. Make more notes about your work, the materials you use, reoccurring themes, etc.
24. Check the mail. Hope for a response from some of the show you've entered
25. Return to the computer. Realize that you've run out of time for the day, but vow to really focus tomorrow.

The above procedure can be repeated for weeks until the Perfect Artist Statement is complete.

Happy writing!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekend Fun

WARNING: The following post would be considered "surface blogging" according to the art marketing advice of Alyson Stanfiend in her recent newsletter on
And I agree. So, if you are looking to read something deep, thought provoking, earth shattering, or otherwise, please check back later. This is not the post for you. I simply wanted to take a minute to appreciate the simple things in life. And how it is important for me to find a balance between my art career, my art making, and my life outside of art.

How was your weekend? I had what I like to think of as a well balanced weekend of fun.

Watched some football- We had amazing seats (4th row, 5o yardline!) for the LSU vs Florida Game. Too bad the game wasn't amazing too. It's tough being a Tiger fan in Gator country. Especially when the score was 51-21. ouch! Sunday Ben made a double batch of his Famous Oatmeal Cookies and I baked a couple loaves of sourdough bread.
We had homemade veggie soup/chili and an bottle of organic wine for dinner. Yum!
And I worked in the studio too. I'd go in for 1-2 hour intervals (while my bread was rising) and grind the groove into the pendants I've been shaping. This groove helps the wire stay in place when they are wrapped. Then I cleaned them up, and fired the kiln again last night.
Today I hope to clean up the mess from the tile saw and grinder, unload the kiln, sort the pendants by price, start wire wrapping, fire a kiln with slumped glass, and finish up some other odds and ends in the studio. I've decided that I just need to set aside a "computer day" to focus on my new artist statement and get my ETSY shop up and running.

So, I guess I should get to work. Hope you're having a great Monday!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Fused Glass Pendant Production

Before, after, and detail shots of the glass firing I unloaded yesterday. The shelf primer/kiln wash for glass is much smoother than for clay and is pink before firing. Though I use the same kiln for clay and glass, I quickly found out that I needed to have 2 sets of shelves to keep shelf grinding and clean up to a minimum.

I did things a bit differently this go round, and I liked it much better. Previously, I would cut the pendants down to size prior to this stage in firing. This time, I decided to fire them as long lozenges and then cut them apart. It was much easier to hold the larger pieces at the tile saw! This is probably the biggest reason I don't make many earrings. There's nothing to hold on to.
I also modified my set up which worked much, much better! I set up the saw inside a fish tank (found last weekend at a garage sale), and then made a few more splash walls with Tupperware lids. It was still just a loud, but there wasn't the spray of glass shards across the room. And I could sit down and work this way which my back, neck, shoulders, and feet were very happy for!
Here's over 250 pendants in progress, and I fired another glass kiln last night. This will be the largest batch I've ever done! I think my forms and color combinations get better and better with each firing. But I've got another day of tile saw and grinder work ahead of me today.

What changes have you made in your work (process, technique, composition) that have made things go more smoothly? And did you find yourself wondering, "Why didn't I think to do this before?"

Cheers to progress,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Making Progress - Steel and Glass

Yesterday was another day for multi-tasking and making lots of progress. I even finished planting some of the shrubs we purchased over the weekend from a fabulous local nursery we just found.

In the studio-
Boxed up some work that will need to get shipped out today. Yay!
Cut the steel for my tile plaques (using a small Hobart plasma cutter) Then coated them all with polyurethane. Today, they should be ready to glue to the wood backings that I prepared last week.

And I was also able to continue work on my fused glass pendants. This will be the 2nd of 3 firings. For this stage, each pendant slice gets cleaned with rubbing alcohol, and then fired with a piece of dichroic glass to give it a little pizazz.

Dichroic glass (as defined by Wikipedia) is glass containing multiple micro-layers of metal oxides which give the glass dichroic optical properties. Dichroic glass was originally developed by NASA and its contractors for use in satellite optics and spacesuit visors. It's pretty cool stuff. It reflects one color, and transmits another. Very glittery! But I think too much dichroic glass can get a bit glitzy and flashy for my taste, so I use it very intentionally.

I should also mention that I fire all my glass and clay in the same L&L ceramics kiln. "They" will tell you you cant do this, but I've had very few problems and great results. There are differences in the two types of kilns, but I've been able to work out programs that allow me to do both. This is just one of the topics I'll be covering in my workshop Glass Fusing 101 at Arrowmont later this month.

Well, I'm off to work for today. I need to work on a new artist statement and updated bio. I keep putting it off. Why are artist statements so hard to write!?!?! Any tips for making it less painful?

Thanks for checking in,

Monday, October 6, 2008

Friends, Flowers and Fall

Ben and I had a great visit with Nigel, Cheyenne, and Chris Picket (he's up at UF working on his MFA) Friday night! It was awesome to be able to laugh, eat, drink and talk clay and "art stuff" with other artists. I often feel artistically isolated in the area where we're living. Which I suppose was one of the main factors for starting this blog.

Nigel and Cheyenne also brought us a couple of their tumblers. Aren't they great! Wish I was able to get a better picture. The carvings, and subtleties from the firing don't show up very well here.
I once had someone tell me that life is a balance of 3 things: Who you're with. What you're doing. And Where you are. If you can ever get all 3 of those to be in perfect alignment, then you must be living right! I feel like I've got the who and what, the where will come with time I suppose. What about you? Do you think this theory is true?

So, in an effort to enjoy the Where more, I have discovered a love for gardening. Ben and I spent Sunday afternoon working in the yard. We finally got a few azaleas and some ornamental grasses to start planting around the studio. Thought I'd share a few pictures...

And the sky was beautiful last night! It is starting to look a feel a bit more like fall. (Well, fall by Florida's standards anyway.) Thanks for dropping by to check in on what's going on here. Hope you had an enjoyable weekend, however you chose to spend it.


Thursday, October 2, 2008


My new camera was delivered this week! Whoohoo! And as excited as I was to finally get it, I did feel a little guilty opening the new box and taking everything out it its protective plastic. But its great to be able to take pictures again! Thanks to everyone who gave advice on what to look for in a camera. I ended up deciding on a Cannon PowerShot SX110IS. It will take me a while before I've figured out how to really use it.

While my glaze kiln was cooling, I was able to multi-task and get a lot of other things accomplished. I finally got around working on my glass pendants again. It was time to take the cast glass bricks over to the tile saw and slice away. Here's a before shot of the castings. They're each about 4" square and 1/2 " to 1" thick.Slicing these is absolutely my least favorite step in the process! It's loud! (even w/ earplugs) It's messy! (it's a wet tile saw, so water splashes and sprays everywhere. And along with the water comes tiny shards of glass that are being chipped away by the blade.) So it's also kinda dangerous! (Despite my best efforts, I end up having glass pieces everywhere! The floor, the counter tops, my arms, etc.) I kept thinking about how when your arms are clay-messy you can just wipe it off, but glass-messy requires a bit more finesse so as not to cut yourself during both the process and the clean-up.
But here are the slices I ended up with. This is what makes all that "torture" worth it. It's likes slicing open geodes. The colors and patterns inside are beautiful! These will get fired two more times before they're ready to become pendants.
With that step of the glass pendants accomplished, I moved on to working on the wood backings for my tile plaques. I like to try and have the wood/steel ready when the tiles come out of the kiln. For the wood, I use a plunge router to create the key hole to hang them from.
They're then burnt with a small propane torch, cut with a miter saw, and the edges are burnt as well.
Then, I apply 2 coats of satin polyurethane to protect the wood and seal the finish. Now they're ready to be glued to the back of the steel.
I'm taking 1/2 a day off tomorrow, so it might be Monday before I get around to cutting the steel. But I hope to set up my tripod so I can share some pictures with the plasma cutter.

Have a great weekend!