Fused Glass Sculpture – Stand Alone Art with an Asian Flair

Asian Totem
Asian Totem

I know glass artists have been firing design side down with great success but I guess when you’re self-taught, the learning curve is a bit slower, a bit gentler. It’s easy to get comfortable with what you know.  I have been merrily layering my design on the base glass and fusing them together- generally without incident and achieving the look I wanted.

One day, I proposed a design for a client that had crisp, clean lines- a highly grahic sensibility.  I was branching out from my customary look of soft, organic lines.  So I carefully cut the glass and layered the pieces on a clear blank as I had done before.

first attempt
first attempt

For me, opening the kiln is like opening a door into a room you’ve not been into before. Ususally it’s inviting, interesting. Sometimes it’s an opportunity for problem solving. Rarely is it dissappointing.

But this time, I could see the error of my ways immediately.  Despite careful cutting and positioning, the flow of the glass had had its way with my design.  The edges between the colors were anything but crisp.  This dog had to learn a new trick in order to achieve the graphic look the design demanded.

Being on an island has many wonderful advantages but easy access to classes at Bullseye Glass is not one of them.  Luckily for me, the folks at Bullseye have made the Pacific ocean just one more puddle on a rainy day when it comes to getting technical information and creative ideas out there.  I remembered seeing something about layering the glass in reverse order but had never tried it.

clean lines and texture
clean lines and texture

I quickly accessed Bullseye tip sheet #7 -Plate Making Tips.  It explained that in order to get the sharpest lines and cleanest seams one should fire with the design side down.  The top layer will hold the design layer closely together as the fusing progresses.  So, I recut the glass and carefully laid it out in this manner.  The glass behaved exactly as predicted flowing into any minor open spaces creating the crips lines that were essential to this design.

I tack fused the calligraphy, glass nuggets and glass stringeres onto the surface of the glass to create the textural element.  When the final firing was complete, the piece looked as I had invisioned.

Asian totem at home
Asian totem at home

Once the glass was finished, I built the frame and base to complete the sculpture.  The client was pleased with the final look and it fits in quite well with the room’s Asian vibe- white with splashes of black and red.

For me, the take away was remembering that trying new techniques will add depth to my design repetoire.  The same old trick will not always get you where you want to go.