Serendipity led to my fascination with fused glass . . .
In the fall of 2010, I had planned to revisit skills learned and used to make stained glass designs more than forty years ago in Denver, Colorado, my birthplace. The new designs were already on paper and on my computer, and my old glass tools had been gathered, along with some cathedral glass that made the journey from Denver to Southern California, and then to Hillsboro, Oregon, miraculously intact.
Before actually starting my new stained glass project, I was thumbing through a PCC (Portland Community College) catalog and discovered the listing for a one evening class on the Basics of Fusing Glass at a glass school in the greater Portland area. "Why not," I said to myself. Well . . . since that single class, I have been unable to turn my brain off. Aided by the fantastic staff at Aquila Glass School on Columbia Blvd. in Portland, my odyssey began. It's great to be this excited about something creative when you've celebrated more than seventy birthdays!
On the previous Father's Day, I received a Yudu as a gift from my wife, 'Charlie.' It is a small screen printing system designed to create silkscreens, dry them and then print the designs on paper or fabric. Why couldn't this procedure be used to add designs to glass before firing? It seemed a reasonable question to me. I was able to get a lot of help from the Aquila staff, Fusion Headquarters, Petra and Barry Kaiser, Anthony Glander (who produced a DVD series about Screenprinting on Glass), and many staffers at Bullseye Glass to learn what I needed to know in order to apply screenprinted images to fused glasswork. To this day, almost every piece I create has some element of screenprinted design included. Surprisingly, I have found the glassworking community to be very open, allowing others to benefit from a long history of personal successes and failures. After gathering the necessary tools, glass enamels and firing schedules, I started making dozens of "test" firings, trying to pin down what worked for me and what didn't. The forty mile round trips to Aquila Glass School finally got to me, and there were things I wanted to do that were outside of Aquila parameters, so in February, 2011, I purchased my own kiln - a Skutt GM1014 - and had the power source installed by a licensed electrician. From that day forward, it has occupied a spot in my small garage studio where it continues clicking contentedly on it's prescribed firing schedule magically forming the physical glass art I have conjured in my mind. At times I feel like a real-life Sorcerer's Apprentice, knowing that at any time, the kiln might choose to take over.
In May, 2012, I traveled by rail, bus, and seaplane to Salt Spring Island, B.C., to attend a week-long class taught by Robert Leatherbarrow. One look at his site will tell you why I just had to learn some of his techniques - www.leatherbarrow.ca. His work and concepts are legendary in the glassworking world. It was a wonderful experience - one that I will prize forever, and one that I would recommend to anyone working with fused glass looking for new directions. He is a wonderful, giving teacher - a huge source of knowledge, inspiration and ideas. What I learned there continues to keep my hands and my mind creatively occupied months after returning home to Oregon. Emphasis in Bob's class was the Crackle Technique, for which he is internationally known, and the use of glass powders to create wafers and custom pieces of glass, along with firing techniques, coldworking, display, photography and sales tips for glass workers. What I learned over that week has become an integral part of my fused glass repertoire, now executed with special little twists and tweaks that I have discovered and innovated over the past few months in my quest to take what I learned in Bob's class on a trip to another destination - my own.
Please navigate to my Gallery Page and take a look at some of the projects I have completed since my discovery of fusing began. I must admit, there are a few that have ended up on my "Wall Of Shame" - things that just didn't work the way I thought they would, but I've learned to accept that a day without at least small surprises and/or failures is a day without learning.
Please feel free to send me comments before your leave. I love receiving feedback and ideas from visitors to my site.