Monday, January 31, 2011

Fusing Glass in a Ceramics Kiln

I'm often asked about my firing methods. Since I work with both clay and glass, many people assume that I have two separate kilns. Nope!

Meet Lily. My L&L Kiln. (Easy Fire e23-3) I love her! We've been working together since November of 2003. I bought her in South Carolina from, and we've made several moves together. North Carolina (Raleigh and Asheville), Gatlinburg, TN and now Ocala, FL. She's a bit shorter than many "standard" ceramics kilns - only 2 sections/rings rather than 3, but she's perfect for my needs. (Purchasing her his another story that I'm especially happy to share with any recent or upcoming graduates.)An article recently went out in the Skutt Kiln newsletter Skutt Hot Topics Yes, Virginia, you can fuse glass in your ceramics kiln that discusses this in more detail. I'm not sure of the author, but it goes on to explain the difference in the two "types" of kilns, and how to load a ceramics kiln for glass.

I'd like to add a few things to the article.

1. - While you can fire glass in a ceramics kiln, it doesn't necessarily work the other way around. Glass kilns traditionally don't get hot enough to fire even low-fire clay. Here are the glass firing schedules I've worked out for my ceramics kiln.

2. - I do have two sets of shelves. The kiln wash/shelf primer used in ceramics is usually thick and gloppy. I use Bullseye Shelf Primer for my glass shelves. It's thin and goes on smooth which is important since the glass will pick up any texture or brush strokes from the shelf/primer.

3. - I also have a Vent-Sure downdraft vent system. This does several things. It helps the kiln fire more evenly - important in clay, glazing, and especially glass. It also helps remove any potentially harmful vapors. Good for your health and the kiln. Less of these volatile vapors are absorbed into the kiln bricks/walls so there's less of a chance your glass will become cloudy from cross contamination and off-gassing.

If you have any questions, drop me a comment. I'm happy to share what I've learned!

Happy Firing!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What comes next...

...bust a move!

Had a great week back in the studio! Actually, I was amazed how much I was able to get done.

My studio time has become precious, and I'm learning to make the most of every minute. When I walk in that door, it's on! I thought I was an efficient, productive worker before. Oh no! You haven't seen anything yet!

So, with my wonderful in-laws in town babysitting, I worked in 1-2 hour shifts between feeding Cooper. All 23 of the clay forms for that commission are finished.

And I have 40 new Mini Sculptures in progress to send to The Society of Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, PA. (No photo just yet, sorry!) Hoping to fire by this coming Friday.

I've got a lot of other big changes going on that I plan to share with you soon, but I'm still processing some of them, and will try to squeeze in time to write about it asap! (Fingers crossed "someone" takes one of his long afternoon naps tomorrow!)

Anyway, I'm off. Laundry is calling my name.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Baby Steps towards a Big Commission

Well, I brushed the cobwebs of my newly acquired "mommy-brain" and headed down to the studio for a couple hours yesterday.

I have a large commission due the end of April, and it's time to get started on it!

Normally, a ceramic and glass wall sculpture this size would take me about 6-8 weeks. Since I will now be squeezing work time in during Cooper's naps, between feedings, on the weekends, or when my in-laws come down next week to babysit (Thank you Betsy and Al!), I've broken my tasks down into smaller, more manageable sizes.

My goal yesterday was to sketch the piece to size. Check! (It's about 3 feet high and 8 1/2 feet long - my design wall is only 6'.)
And make the paper patterns. Check!
The next phase of the project will be to roll out the clay slabs. Two slabs will be cut from each paper pattern - one for the back of the piece, and one for the domed/puffy front.

I figure I can get one, maybe 2 patterns cut out during one of Cooper's (brief, ugh!) naps.

Ok, off to get some sleep while I can. Thanks for reading!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Returning to Work...

Oh, getting back to work after having a baby... I have such conflicting thoughts on that statement.

I am beyond grateful that I have a job that allows me the flexibility to be with our son!!
There's a part of me that wants to spend every waking moment watching Cooper learn and grow. (And believe me, there are still plenty of WAKING moments!) And then there's the part of me that aches to be out in the studio - feeling creative and independent.

Some days these thoughts are at peace with each other. Other days, honestly, it's a struggle that leaves me feeling frustrated, upset, angry, frightened, and at a loss for knowing what to do or how to proceed - both in and out of the studio.

And then, this toothless grin smiles up at me, my heart melts, and all is right in the world.
I know I will get back into the studio again. Until then, Cooper and I will be spending lots of time together. I want to treasure these moments because I know they are brief.

And the studio will still be there when we're ready.