Thursday, July 26, 2012

Glass Axis Day #1

      Recently, I had the opportunity to take a two day class at Glass Axis in Columbus, Ohio. Glass Axis is a not-for-profit glass art studio and gallery.  Within their facility they have a hot glass studio equipped for glass blowing, molten glass manipulation, and annealing.  I spent my time in Glass Axis's cold glass studio, where a great teacher helped me remember how to design and create a large (compared to what I'm used to), structured stained glass composition.
"Glass Axis is a 10,000 sq. ft. art center providing artists, students, and community members
  the tools necessary to passionately create innovative works in glass while learning, sharing,
and teaching. Member artists have access to affordable glass blowing, glass fusing, torch
working, cold working, stained glass and neon facilities, plus studio, exhibition, education,
outreach, and income-producing opportunities all under one roof."
Glass Axis offers classes in all things glass related, from stained glass and
mosaic to glass blowing and fusing.

     Glass Axis is housed in a neat old factory with lots of tall glass windows, and inlaid stone floors.  One thing it lacks, however, is air conditioning.  Of course, the weekend I attended my class it was over 100 degrees...outside. Our class area was right beside the hot shop's 2 molten glass furnaces, making for a very, very hot and sweaty day.  I loved it!  I love the heat and working up a good sweat, but I did not envy the group of ladies there for the glass blowing class!
My workspace was right next to these blown glass bowls created by one of the studio's resident artists.  I found them very beautiful and inspiring as I tried to avoid knocking them off the table all weekend.
      The first thing we did during class was come up with a design to create in stained glass.  Our teacher told us to shoot for a composition that would contain about 30 pieces of glass.  Working with stained glass involves many phases, and she felt 30 pieces would guarantee us a finished piece by the end of class the next day.  Okay, 30 pieces, no problem. 
My design was inspired by these daffodils we found at
Wildwood Nature Preserve in Kosciusko County.  
      So, I am the world's slooowweesst decision maker, and one of the world's slowest drawers.  I knew I wanted to create a piece inspired by my nature preserve hiking adventures, so I got out my computer, looked over the photos...and discovered the root of my decision making issues--too many choices!

The beginning of my hiking-inspired design.

      Finally, after 3 hours of debating and deliberating on which of the hiking photos I wanted to use as inspiration for my piece, then drawing, erasing, redrawing, and re-erasing, and finally getting it down on paper, I had it!  And I liked it, too.  

The final design for my stained glass creation.
Perhaps you've already picked up on the fact that there are waaaaay more than
30 pieces of glass in this design.
      The only problem...this design has nearly 75 pieces!  Okay, not really a problem for me. The teacher has confidence in my past experience enough to allow me to proceed.  Actually, I think she's afraid of the several more hours it would no doubt take me to re-design it.  So I begin!

Glass Axis provided all the glass and tools needed for our class.
They had a nice array of colors and styles to choose from.
      I began by selecting the glass to use in my design. The thing that has always drawn me to the art of stained glass more than anything else is the visual aspect of the colors.  I am easily awed by the interplay of light and color, and there is nothing more breathtaking to me than to see colors actually light up - which is the whole point of stained glass.
My pattern for creating correctly shaped glass pieces
      Next, I photocopied my drawn design and used it as a pattern for my individual glass pieces.  Each pattern piece was placed on the glass, traced with Sharpie, then cut using special glass cutting and shaping tools.  Eventually, my paper design began to be filled in with glass pieces.
I chose to work with all the same colored areas at one time, to ensure I didn't lose track
of my design and run out of my chosen colors.
Those long, skinny, curving pieces of glass are t r i c k y to cut without snapping in half.
I'm pretty sure I held my breath the whole time.
Finally finished!  For today.
      By the time I have traced and cut out all 75-ish pieces of this design, I am ready to collapse of heat exhaustion.  It has been 8 and a half standing-up hours of hot and sweaty, but satisfying and creative work.  I am stoked to return and put it all together tomorrow.  After a taaaallll glass of water, and a shower. Or two.

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