In the Studio

Trophy Art Collaboration

col·lab·o·rate – \kə-ˈla-bə-ˌrāt\ : to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something.

Recently I was contracted by Jim Murrell to create the trophies for King Harbor Race Week, my biggest trophy job to date requiring about 25 pieces and four different sizes. I decided to collaborate with glass blower Myles Freedman. This is our first project together. To get the ball rolling Myles met me down at the yacht club so I could show him various types of trophies and awards. At this point the only decision we had made was to work with blues/greens and that the final piece needed to feel like the ocean. We were off to a good start.

Next we had to consider the final shape. We wanted something curvy that could stand on its own. We looked at many molds and finally found one that we both liked. The mold then dictated our final trophy sizes. All the trophies are 16 inches in width. We are doing four heights for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places, they are 12, 10, 8 and 6 inches. Now it was time to make some samples and do test firings.

KHRW - Julie's Glass Sample

Julie’s Glass Sample

I went first. Our concerns at this point were whether to use some type of white back ground or to have the trophies be transparent. I used several white and crèam colors in my composition. Myles had blown some adventurine blue into glass confetti pieces so I utilized those as well. I tried a couple of different fusing techniques. While we liked the end result it wasn’t totally what we were going for. This sample will definitely end up in an art piece down the road.

KHRW - Myles glass sample

Myles’ Glass Sample

Myles was up next. He loved a section on my sample that utilized small pieces of clear glass junks that pulled color up around themselves. He used this one method and proceeded to use many layers of glass confetti pieces with clear junks. The results were amazing. We now had our method.

We wanted more than just blue for the final art trophies so Myles started blowing all kinds of blues and green together and separately. He added some white as well. We had lots of striking glass combinations to work with. We started layering and fusing our first glass panels. Because of all the layering we trapped some air bubbles. Bubbles always make my crazy, but Myles embraced them as cool and aquatic. I saw his point. It was time for me to let go of perfection and embrace bubbles.

KHRW Trophies

We are now in the process of slumping our glass panels into their final form. The results are wonderful. Each trophy is a unique piece of art with different colors layered and swirled together. Our final step will be to sand blast the award text at the trophy bottom just before the regatta. This has been a fun project to work on with Myles. I look forward to collaborating together more in the future.

A Fused Glass Chemical Reaction

Preparing the glass in the kiln.

Heidi’s glass piece before firing.

In order to get different colors of glass minerals are added. During the firing process sometimes these minerals create a chemical reaction. My studio partner Heidi decided to experiment with these reactions during her recent studio visit.

Lately I have been creating “hot fire” slabs of glass. The glass is heated to 1700 degrees and held for a couple of hours. At this temperature the glass is more fluid resulting in interesting movement within the piece. After a few disasters, I have stabilized the firing schedule for my kiln. I discovered (by accident) that you get more movement if the kiln is unlevel because gravity is helping the glass move.

Fused Glass

Heidi’s piece after firing.

As Heidi prepared the kiln for her first hot fire piece she worked with copper bearing colors (blues and greens) and sulfur bearing (creams). To make things interesting she threw in some pink/coral which is lead bearing. As you can see from the pictures the chemical reaction formed the dark charcoal brown color. I love the outcome.



Fused Glass Art Fused Glass Art

Heidi will be back in the studio next week. We’ll see what she eventually does with the fused glass. Whatever it is I’m sure it will be fabulous. It never ceases to amaze me how different our approach is to working with glass utilizing the same techniques.


Glass Bubbles, Craters and Camouflage

Hand cut glass slab.

Custom glass slab tediously cut by hand for the Seahorses.

Well, 2013 is here and the 2012 Boat Parade has come and gone. With all the hustle and bustle of December I haven’t had a chance to post information about the trophies.

All glass projects can have issues that arise…it’s the nature of glass, firing schedules, weather or simple kiln goblins. The boat parade trophies in the last week had some major obstacles to overcome……why is that always the case?

I was feeling pretty good about the progress of the project before I left for my trip to Florida in early December. The background glass was done. The custom glass slab I created for the seahorses was done and looking good. The only thing left to do was cut out the seahorses and glass for the final firing.

So I loaded the kiln, set the schedule and was feeling pretty proud of myself for managing my procrastination, I had six days until the event. Well, I opened the kiln the next morning to huge bubbles. Yikes I haven’t had huge mountainous bubbles like this in years. I was stunned for the first hour and trying not to let the tears fall. I had to get this fixed ASAP….nothing like a deadline to help you hold yourself together.

Huge Glass Bubbles

Yikes….huge glass bubbles…not good!

After a quick consultation with my local “glass doctor” I drilled holes in the bubbles and re-fired with a new schedule. I was feeling good about the project I still had 4.5 days to go. I was glad I had built in some extra “just in case” time.

The next morning I cruised into the studio thinking I’m done and can move on to slumping the trophies in their molds followed by sand blasting the lettering. My heart sank when I open the kiln lid. My bubbles were now hideous craters. Yikes what now? I only had time for one more firing. Slumping was out for sure.

I added more glass to cover the craters, re-fired and hoped that the final trophies would be A-OK. I was a little bummed out about not being able to add the slumping curve that would make the final pieces rest in their holders a bit better…..oh well that’s how it goes with glass sometimes. This firing was success…..thank goodness.

Glass Trophies

Trophies on display and ready for their winners.

Next up the trophies needed to be sand blasted….I was down to 1.5 days until delivery. Of course I encountered some unexpected computer file issues. I was starting to feel a little cursed. The final sand blasting actually goes quite quickly, but the prep can be very time consuming. I finally finished up at 9 PM with hours to spare before the noon delivery the next day. Boy that was cutting it way too close for my comfort.

The event person arranged the trophies and dressed them up nicely. I was finally Done, Done, DONE!!! With Christmas a week away I could now focus on getting my tree up and the house decorated before our holiday guests arrived.

I’m in LOVE with aventurine blue glass!!

The background glass for the 2012 Boat Parade

Well, it’s going to be a short but very busy week in the studio. I leave to go out of town on Thursday. When I get back the King Harbor Boat Parade glass trophies are due so I need to stay on track. I fired the trophy background glass yesterday and it looks beautiful. I’m glad I waited. I almost fired Saturday night but would have been in bad shape if I had done so. Our power went out for three hours which would have been a catastrophe if I had been in the middle of a kiln firing. This is the first time I have worked with aventurine blue glass……I am in love! It has a super cool sparkle to it without being too much. Next up for this project is creating the custom glass for the sea horses. I know more seahorses right? Actually this year’s logo is a seahorse and the client wants a literal translation. No worries on that since I love creating them.