Monday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

It's time for a Christmas vacation, no post today!

Then I'm visiting family so no post next Thursday or Monday!

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 20

Intro to Ebay for Artists

I'm not an on-line shopping kind of gal, but Michael's (oddly) does not sell glue on bails for pendants, so I ventured onto Ebay.

What I learned there is;

1. Things are ridiculously cheap, and free shipping is awesome.

First purchase, 60 bails for $5.29

2. Things are really, ravishingly, ridiculously cheap if you bid instead of buy.

50 bails for $0.95!

3. If things are ridiculously cheap and shipping is free, expect your purchases to take a lot longer than you anticipated.

There go my Christmas Vacation plans!

Have you ever had a find as amazing as my less than two pennies per bail?

Monday, December 17

Crafty Christmas Gifts

It's Christmas time, so the busy crafter has to make last minute crafts for gifts! Mine, unfortunately, didn't go perfectly because I used scrap glass and didn't know the melting points. These did make me realize though, that this would be a really fun workshop idea. In fact, while making them I recruited a first year who wanted to make some fused name plates for herself too!

Some need to be glued together because they came out in two pieces - oops!

For anyone interested, these fused name plates ultimately went to 810C for 15 minutes. This was more than enough for my white SY96 glass (and white is the hardest to melt). Whatever that stripey glass is, it's magically tough.

And in case Jessi reads this, please come back to me soon! I miss you on this blog! (She is so darn busy.)

Thursday, December 13

Pushing The Business Plan Forward

Separate your sketch book from your business, from your essay classes, from your labels and posters. Do it.

This semester we wrote business plans, half of us thought it was pointless at this point in our development, half of us thought it would be a great tool to move into the future. I was part of the latter, and I spent 30 hours (albeit a last minute 30 hours), writing a 30 page business plan for myself; I got an A+. This really got me thinking seriously about business, because so many artists these days are 'starving', and they might not be if they had an established plan and really knew what they were doing. It might also help that I watch Dragon's Den religiously.

So what I've done is so simple that you'll slap your head against the keyboard; I bought a pretty little book from Dollarama for $1.50 that was exactly what I wanted, and it is EXCLUSIVELY for workshop and studio ideas. Too many ideas for different things get scribbled and mixed up in note and sketch books, which tends to make all the information unfindable.

What this did for me?

When I wrote my business plan I had 3 workshop ideas that I subsequently forgot, in my dedicated book I already have 25 ideas, one per page for clarity.

I also sectioned off part of my little book to record all the kiln workshops in Canada and the cost/ time/ products for each class they offer. (That's also a great way to get ideas for your own workshops, hint hint.)

Seriously, do it.

Monday, December 10

Stress Reliever

When critiques are only days away everyone gets really, really stressed. On Sunday I walked into my classroom to find a bunny staring at me from the corner of the room.

Two of my classmates, Amy and Paul, borrowed their roommate's bunny to help everyone unwind. It was amazing, I didn't even want to work, and lots of people insisted that they had to keep taking 'Bunny Breaks' or else the poor bunny would be alone - and that just wouldn't be fair!

I definitely think all art studios should have fuzzy mascots to keep everyone happy.

Monday, December 3

Crunch Time: How Do You Prioritize?

There comes a time in every artist's life when they are put under pressure to complete a piece or entire series of work by a certain date. I am, of course, speaking of deadlines. They turn up all throughout your artistic life: with school, galleries, art tours, commissions, holidays, special occasions, articles, blogs, and even with books, if you are so inclined to write one.

I don't believe anyone has a life that is structured solely around the act of artistic creation, even the most successful and dedicated professional artist must make time to apply for shows, photograph work, advertise themselves, and generally organize the business side of the art life. In fact, if you read the novel Art & Fear as I suggested you should, you would have come across the sobering knowledge that one established painter shared with us. That is, that after meticulously documenting how he spent his time, he found that in a month he only spent a total of 6 or 7 days actually painting. The rest of the time was dedicated towards the business end of being an artist, which includes tasks such as the ones I listed above.

I assume I am correct and that no one artist spends 100% of their time working on the physical production of art. In school I have come to the conclusion that other students, like myself, find it difficult to work on written projects, even when they are directly related to our work as artists (such as business proposals and independent research projects). Anything that we cannot do in the studio, that does not help us create finished pieces, makes us feel like we are not working, like we are doing absolutely nothing important with our time.

If other artists feel like us, and I'm sure that some other artists also feel that way, then the question is, how do they prioritize? At school the majority of students leave written projects to the near last moment, some don't even make the deadlines - and this would be a detrimental habit if the written work was related to grants or audits. So, do a lot of us break these habits as we mature into the art world? When money and exposure is on the line do we learn to pick up the slack?

After all, I think the business proposal was an extremely relevant project to my own future as an artist, yet still I underestimated the time I would need and was left working until 5 in the morning on the day it was due. Despite the fact that I put 30 solid hours into the project, if it were a real business proposal for a bank, investor, or grants council, I certainly would have failed to gain funding. So when the time comes will I be able to tear myself away from the studio and convince myself that the writing I have to do is for the greater good of my artistic wellbeing?

Can you pull yourself away from the studio when it matters? How can you convince yourself to put down the tools, wash your hands and go open up Microsoft Word?

Friday, November 30

The Joy Of Unexpected Freebies!

I hear about people who have scored amazing freebies, including materials, antiques, equipment and common goods. I honestly never thought I would be that lucky, but apparently I was wrong, it can happen to anyone, and it is really, really exciting. I was on the hunt for a sconce, I wanted a wall mount that would fit a piece I made (doing my own wiring would make the piece unsellable). When I approached the owner of a lighting store for help, he told me he didn't want to take any of his beautiful lights apart, but, he said, he did own a lighting surplus store down the street that I could check out.
This light retailed, at liquidation cost, for $200.
I told the employee working there that I was a glass student and showed my light cover off to him, he was absolutely ecstatic. After complimenting my glass (which he kept doing throughout our conversation), he enthusiastically spoke about donating broken pieces to me if I wanted them, or if I thought another glass artist at the school would want them. All we have to do is give credit, that's it. I didn't even believe him when he said that he was going to give me a sconce back for free, and I ended up with a sconce, two hanging lights, and an appointment to return for many, many more freebies.

Liquidation retail price? $600
Every now and then one of a kind experiences happen, so look out for those opportunities!

Monday, November 26

Dragon's Den: Season 7, Ep 6: The All Kids Special!

Unfortunately I have to ask you guys to click a clink, which I know nobody likes doing these days. However, I like CBC so I think supporting their website is really important, especially since they are kind enough to offer us all their shows for free (minus the short commercials).

CBC Presents: Dragon's Den (Season 7, Episode 6)

There are actually so many amazing things going on right now that I can't choose what to write about - mostly because I don't have pictures of everything going on. So instead I will be dropping reference to a Dragon's Den episode that features another series of kid's companies! I don't just find these examples of young entrepreneurs motivating, I find they peak my curiousity as well - What would it be like if I had started that young? What would my products have been? That sort of thing.

So, here's hoping you guys love these chicklett entrepreneurs as much as I do!

What do you think about the deals that did or did not go down?

Friday, November 23

Evan Penny: Streeeeeeeeeetch!

This week at the AGO I saw an exhibition in the contemporary section by Evan Penny. If anyone else ever has a chance to see his work, I suggest it 100%!

What he does is sculpt larger than life figures out of clay, make a mold, then cast them out of silicone. He also painstakingly (it has to be) inserts every single individual bit of hair with a needle. These sculptures were so life like that while staring at the over-sized ones I was waiting, seriously I was just waiting for one of them to move. To blink, look at me, say something - anything! I stood back and thought, "Geez, if giants came and wanted to eat us (like in so many of my mangas) this is what it would be like. This guy could just bite my head off." It was creepy. I loved it.

His other pieces weren't just unbelievably realistic, they played on perspective in the most wonderous way. These really aren't pieces you can talk about, nor even pieces you can understand with the use of a video aid, you have to see them.

This one was probably the closest to 'mind blowing' that any artist will ever get. Also she has 5 nostrils.

Now you see him, now you don't?

Her eyes were my afvorite thing about this.

Wednesday, November 21

Damien Hirst In and Out of Love

I have heard about Damien Hirst's exhibit In and Out of Love, where you could meander around with thousands of live butterflies who were just minding their own business and chomping on some fruit that was laid out in bowls for them. The only reason I heard that this exhibit existed though was because news got out that 9,000 - that's nine thousand - butterflies died for the sake of this exhibit, which I find to be sort of absurd.

In and Out of Love exhibit, 2012

No, the butterflies were not an endangered species.

Yes, their life was cut short: from a couple of months to a couple of days.

To me, using butterflies for their beauty and their ethereal qualities to the point that you, in a way, steal the life out of them and then just go collect more is like finding a unicorn and letting it die in a cage just so people can enjoy it for a little while, and your own life span (or for an artist, time in the spot light) can be increased.

I know, I sound a bit cynical.

Worse yet? The way I interpret such installations is that they're pure shock value. Don't get me wrong, I think shock value can be a wonderful thing, but I don't like when I feel like that might be all the artist has going for them. 

Or maybe he was looking to bring some attention and hype to his early butterfly paintings? That would be an intelligent move on his part.

In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays), 1991
I guess we wouldn't care if it was 9,000 mosquitos killed, so I'm not so sure, is it okay to kill so much for the sake of art, let alone an impermanent art piece?

Monday, November 19

Ox Gall: The Key To Clearing Out The Studio

I often like working alone in our little kiln room at school (because it is so danged small), so sometimes it can be quite heartbreaking when another student randomly walks into the room and sets up camp for the day. Whenever I mope about this to my friends they would always joke that I should do something to scare the people off like stare them down or even fart uncontrollably. Of course I would never do those things, but today I realized I am using a liquid so vile that it literally forces everyone out of the room except for me.

Worth the $17.00

So today's short and sweet post is to thank Ox Gall Liquid, the stomach bile that not only magically breaks the surface tension of paint, but also offers me sweet solace whenever I'm feeling introspective while working!

Would you ever clear out your studio if you could too?

Friday, November 16

Dressing The Part

While this seems like an entirely simple concept, you'd be surprised how often it floats over people's heads. No, believe it or not, I am not going to tell you to dress professional if you feel you are attending a high-class event - I have heard this quite a few times already, and you know what? I really dislike this idea, and I have an actual reason why I do.

 "But Nicole!" I can already hear people shouting out, especially my mother, "If you're meeting with a very upperclass client, you have to dress appropriately, that's just what you do, it's how it's done, you have to be 'professional'." Well, I'm sorry to say that while some of your potential peers or clients might believe that's true, I don't. I aruge that what is more important is a 'professional' (i.e. Confident) attitude.

Let me explain. You could be in the prettiest, most expensive clothes in the world - maybe they were even hand crafted by a famous textile artist that you happen to have an in with - but if you aren't feeling the clothes, if it feels wrong because you're only in them due to people's expectations, then I doubt you're going to be giving off the right vibes. Agree?

Does this mean dress like a slob? Of course not. It means dress in what feels right to you. So if high-class, sophisticated clothing makes you feel professional and like you belong with the big hitters that you're mingling with, then go ahead and wear it! But if you're content in jeans and paint splattered shoes, then just be yourself and wear that. For god sakes you're an artist, quirky behavior has long been synonymous with our career. And before you protest, let me just point out that Dale Chihuly always, and I mean always, wears paint splattered shoes out wherever he goes. It has been said that it is even part of his image as an artist and that he splatters every pair of brand new shoes with paint, so that he will always have that 'fresh out of the studio' look. I don't know whether or not this is true, but clearly his career has been rather successful, and I think that's proof enough that a pair of rough shoes or quirky wear will not be the cement to end your career.

To anyone who knows me and reads this thinking, "This is a built up excuse on why she thinks she can justify wearing her cat ear headband, her hairstyle, her clothes - " just stop yourself right there, please. (I assume) We're all aritsts here, and what about the term artist is synonymous with the idea of being so judgmental about things that do not matter? The great artists break the rules, so why do I always see people trying to set nonfunctioning rules and put walls up?

I remember last year after a large commission for the new Sheridan campus, there was a black tie opening that the glass students were invited to. We happened to be passing through the area before hand on a field trip that day, I was in a skull t-shirt and paint stained jeans. When my teacher asked, I explained to him that I had not been planning on attending the event, and that I clearly lacked the proper eveningwear. He insisted that I should go, that I was an art student and people would understand. So after a failed search for a last minute dress at the mall, I went to the event in my ill suited clothing. I know that some fellow peers hold that against me, that they judge me for being 'unprofessional' at a classy event, but I am also 100% sure that I had a better evening than any other student there.

I stood out in a sea of well dressed alumni in black suits and fancy dresses and should have been the most awkward person there (I'm actually surprised they let me in at all), but instead of hanging on to my fellow classmates, I socialized with these 'highclass' strangers. I had wonderful conversations, they gave me pointers on business and life (relevant to their field of work), we taste tested the odd dishes together (like caramlized duck), and I think we even spoke of wines and desserts. So if you cannot tell, I am really thankful that my teacher insisted I attend the event, because I had forgotten how well I can socialize with strangers (I swear, I'm wonderful with strangers, just horrible with classmates and family), that evening he indirectly helped me regain a great stroke of confidence.

That is not to say, of course, that I would condemn myself to paint stained jeans. There are moments when I would like to wear fancy clothing and expensive outerwear, but these choices are based on my personal taste, not fear of anyone's judgment, nor fear for lack of confidence.

Wednesday, November 14

Gourd Lamps by Przemek Krawczyński

This is my all time favorite, I adore the optics and space of the light.

I'm sure that everyone has seen the crazy-artistic gourd lamps before, right? If not, pictures are ahead! A remedial Google search tells me that these gourds all belong to the website Calabarte, and are crafted by Przemek Krawczyński.

I've come across these photos a lot during my stumbles, and I always really, really loved them, but couldn't actually derive anything from them for myself. Which is weird, because if I were smart I would have made a derivative glass copy, examined the way the light was affected and made adjustments based on my personal desires - then you lather, rinse and repeat over and over again, and theoretically the end result should be that you have created your own satisfying product. That's how you're supposed to do things anyway (I wonder if anyone does?).

I love that it looks like someone scribbled on the walls and floor.

I clearly did not do that, instead I just kept copies of these awesome gourds on file just-in-case. Today, finally, in an indirect way, my want for a crazy, texture driven lamp has taken shape. It was just an accident when I was fooling around with wax on Monday, but it seems everything I create that is good is just an accident, so I'm not really surprised. Assuming I ever get around to casting my first tile in crystal I'll upload it for the internet to possibly see, in fact, it would be great if someone pressured me to actually get around to casting it as soon as possible (only three weeks left of school, holy crap!).
I think this piece shows a truly ridiculous amount of detail.

This post isn't about my crazy tile (but please, pressure me to finish it), I am just here today to share a very intriguing piece of craft that I hope inspires someone else, since my inspiration from it never really came to fruition.

Monday, November 12

. . . In Twenty Years?

I should start telling myself posts are Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday so I'll write them the night before, then they can post properly in the morning. Stiiiiill, technically I am keeping to my Mon/Wed/Fri schedule, so that's something.

And on the topic of being busy, that happens to be what today's post is all about! Today I was frustrated as it's crunch time for that snowflake commission and I can't get the last 30 or so finished fast enough to have a safe buffer between then and the due date (Thursday!). This is mostly because tomorrow happens to be my birthday, so for once, screw school, I am going home at noon - or maybe even a bit before that!

So, what do I do when I'm frustrated and feeling out of time? I try to tell myself, or ask myself, "How will this affect me in 20 years?" As in;
"In 20 years will I regret not sleeping in?" - Probably not.
"In 20 years will I remember this peer, and this specific moment, that is agitating the heck out of me?" - Definitely not, let it go.
"In 20 years will I regret not doing more work?" - It could be life changing, I better stay and do it!

It's hard to find good images of hour glasses online.

You get the drift, right? My coping mechanism is to think of how today will really affect the future, so that I will hopefully spend my time more appropriately. Needless to say I've discovered that not going online actually makes me accomplish a lot more, unfortunately I still always have accress to an i-pod with Spider Solitaire on it, so I often get distracted playing that (I still can't beat the darn 4 suit level, not even once!).

I want to clarify here that I am not, at all, imagining what my life might be like in 20 years. Zodd no, I do not actually want to gleefully imagine myself as a 41-42 year old. I think it's more like, if anything, I try to do things right so that wherever I am when I'm 42, I should be able to look back 20 years and be proud of myself. Have you thought of that lately? How one day you might look back and say, "Gosh, I spent my entire life on the internet," ? I digress, I don't have too many of those specific thoughts either. Somewhere along the way I must have picked up the idea to ask myself, "Will I regret this in 20 years?" as a way to tell myself to shove on through, and it just stuck.

I wish I had more to write about this subject but I feel like I'd just be repeating myself and tooting my own horn. All I can do is hope that referring your future self to your current self will do something to help you - if it does, you'll understand, if it doesn't, then maybe you won't.

Friday, November 9


Visiting the SOFA art show in Chicago taught me something really important about art, and that is that the general atmosphere of a venue is overwhelming. I'm not so sure about the rest of the world, but since I am working on a small scale and not showing in any galleries, the only atmosphere I ever think of is the one that my piece creates, the atmosphere that I hope passerbyers (and internet voyeurs) will pick up on. I like to set moods, as I'm sure most artists do.

The mood here is, there's a lot of people, and a god awful lot of lethargic highschool students.

The thing about SOFA is . . . well, the overwhelming atmosphere that slapped you in the face was 'commercial' and 'aesthetics'. That is to say that all the craft I saw was visually appealing and it had a big price tag, but it never once evoked any sort of feeling from me. There were also no written blurbs that were posted with the art - as there are in museums in some galleries.

When I brought this up one of my teacher's insisted that if there had been conceptual work at SOFA and if it were strong enough that it would have shone through the fog of commercialism and established itself, but I don't agree with it. How about you?

I'd sell my right foot for a Libensky though. Owning one of these is definitely a goal in my life.

At this point in time I don't imagine an event like SOFA will ever be a goal in my future. Sure, making a huge profit based off of your years of experience (well earned of course), and the value that goes with your name is wonderful, it's probably the well deserved reward for years of living as a 21st century starving artist, but I don't think it's for me. Perhaps it's not the same everywhere, but at SOFA I believe the air of large price tags actually cheapened the work; please remember though that I'm just a poor (probably jealous) art student, and not a wealthy art collector, nor even your ideal audience. But I digress, the point I was trying to make is that if my work is extremely conceptual, I don't want the sight of an unnecessarily large price tag to make people think my work might juts be a cop out.

I may have been a bit harsh on this $20,000.00 chunk of glass. Honestly, it took a LOT of coldworking and the gallery gets a good cut. (but still, 20k?)

Finally, I don't know what my ideal price point is, but it isn't half a million dollars, or even twenty thousand dollars - and you know what? Maybe that's something to think about.

Wednesday, November 7

Art & Fear: A Book For ALL Artists/Crafters!

Alright ladies and gents, you may notice that I missed a couple of posts, as I was off visitng Chicago for the SOFA Art Show. Since the drive was about 9 hours each way, I had a lot of time to read the book, "Art & Fear" by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

I'm not sure what to say about this book aside from the fact that I really believe that every human being interested in art should own a copy and reread it everytime they have doubts and issues regarding their risky choice to be an artist.

It addresses topics such as why people stop making art, what manages to keep others creating, issues regarding literature and education, and many a very personal issue. It also outlines different ways to push yourself forward by realizing and making the best of your personal habits, learning to listen to your art, etc, etc. I feel like the more I go on, the worse I'll make the novel sound.

So, trust me and read it, it's only 122 pages, and if you can't find it in a library it costs all of four dollars on Amazon!

Also, happy birthday Jestress!

Monday, October 29

Halloween: Horse Costume!

So midterms are done (yay finally)! I have been working on some sewing while I relaxed on my reading week. This past Sunday was supposed to be the Halloween horse show at my barn, but because of the horrible rainy weather lately they postponed it until after Hurricane Sandy passes. For my costume, I decided to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Donatello to be exact. And for my sisters costume, well lets just say she wanted to be a horse... Keeping in mind she would have to be able ride a horse in this costume - so she would be a horse on a horse! What a silly child, I love her dearly. So anyways, for this I will show you my steps in creating the horse costume. (Since she decided to be this for Halloween as well I had to put mine on the back burner and finish hers.) This will most likely be my entry to the Halloween contest as well :)

Maggie (my little sister) wanted to be a chestnut horse with a black mane and white markings. So off we went to our local thrift store to take a look around. I found a warm fluffy orange hoodie, with minimal writing/designs on it, that we would use for the body. I found the cheapest white t-shirt to use for the white sleeves or 'stockings'. I decided to use yarn for the mane and tale, the package we found had orange, black and white yarn all in one bag, so overall it was a good deal.

I made Mags where the hoodie and I marked off where the mane, tail and markings would be. Plus where I would put the ears. I only had to cut the sweatshirt three times: once down the hood and past the neck for the mane and I cut off fabric from each sleeve to use for the ears.

 For the mane I was following multiple tutorials. I took my yarn and I just wrapped it around a piece of cardboard until I was happy with the thickness. Word of wisdom which the first tutorial forgot to mention; don't wrap the yarn that tight around the cardboard because when you cut it free it will get shorter and 'spring' back up. I guess its common sense, but they shouldn't assume everyone has it! :P

After cutting all the thread free I realized I would most likely need my sewing machine to secure all the yarn together. Of course my sewing machine was at my parents so I figured a way around it. I cut a line out of the white t-shirt that was the length of the 'mane' and I carefully placed all the yarn on top of it (as shown below). I then sewed the mane together in sections - however this wasn't the best approach and I really should of got my sewing machine. But I was making do with what I had, so I just went over it many times sewing different chunks together until it somewhat was secure.

Close up of underside of mane.
First run through of securing the yarn complete.
After I finished the mane, I placed it in the cut section of the hood (it goes straight down the middle to about the back of the neck). Pictured below is the hood getting pinned up (with the mane on the inside) so I can sew it shut! The white t-shirt that I sewed the yarn into became handy during this step because I was able to use it to sew the mane in place. I had extra 'mane' so I cut it off and it because the tail. I just sewed the tail onto the orange fabric where I wanted it to go; nothing special there.

The wee little tail :) All pinned in place and ready to sew.

Now that the horsie costume had a mane and tail, all it was missing was the ears (and 'stockings'). For the ears, I cut a section off each sleeve, then cut even squares from each. I folded one corner up to the middle of the square and bent it into an ear shape and sewed it together. Once I had both ears I pinned them in place and finally sewed them. For the 'stockings' I cut the white t-shirt and wrapped them around the arms. I sewed each in place.

After that it was just a matter of finishing touches; since she wanted to wear it for Halloween, I had to rip the logo that was stitched into the hoodie. This took about a full day or so to get done, but it was worth it.

Evil cat intermission....

And might I say she was one happy camper. For the horse show she will just wear her riding breeches most likely but for Halloween I think Mum and her were going to try and get pants of the same colour and some white leg warmers. Yup Halloween may commence.

Happy Halloween, stay safe and warm! :)

Friday, October 26

How Not To Marble Paper

In school we have a course called 'Experimental Glass' wherein everyone chooses a topic, technique, etc. that they're interested in and they go to town with experiments. Off the bat I wanted to experiment with texture and food because I'd been getting into that over the summer, but I soon discovered that I didn't think the structure of the course went well with the way I wanted to structure experiments with texture.

So instead I decided to link my topic from my Independent Research Project up with the topic for Experimental Glass, and thus, I decided to begin experimenting with marbling paper. Marbling glass techniques already exist, but I want to marble glass in the way that paper is marbled, not by pouring some paint onto a glass plate and just swirling it around. I mean have you ever seen the insane pictures people can create by painting on water? It's amazing!
So, tonight I tried marbling paper for the first time thinking it would be real easy. I got about two marbles out of my attempts and that's it. it's funny how something so simple, with such simple instructions, can go so wrong.

You can marble with acrylic on water, or you're supposed to be able to, and that went best, but didn't work. Gouache didn't help. Apparently water with a 'drop' of soap on top should do the trick, while I used a couple drops and a whole ton of drops and it did not create a nice layer on the surface for the paint to sit on. I think maybe it's all in the technique, I suck at laying the paint down and I find using an eyedropper completely impossible - it just makes bubbles.

So the conclusion? I guess I'll just have to keep trying, no matter how much it pains me to have the same results over, and over, and over again. Eventually I'll get it right, and that's what matters.
First Attempt!
The structure of the course is akin to this method really: try Paint A with Water Solutions 1 thru 10, then repeat with Paint B, etc. Then I'd have to try my preferred methods with different glass surfaces, and once I really knew what I was doing I would, theoretically, have a way to float enamels on a water/liquid solution and roll my glass over that. The end product being successful seems a little unimaginable right now, but I'll get there.

Second successful attempt!

As a double conclusion, I also think it's really important to be willing to switch up how you work on things. Clearly my approach to texture didn't mesh well with this approach to experimenting, so I would have just suffered if I had kept with it.

Monday, October 22

Silly Ideas

I often come up with silly ideas for things I want to make out of glass, but I never end up making them since they aren't serious, thoughtful projects. It occurs to me though that maybe silly ideas should just be made, even if they will never be gallery pieces, nor art that will ever be purchased. I mean, I've said something about this before, that going through a lot of ideas and working through the bad ones is important, so I don't see why working through the silly ones shouldn't be just as important, if not a lot more fun and rewarding too!

The silliest idea I had over the summer that I can recall is the plan to make a large skeleton of a city - like a wire structure, but out of small flameworked rods of glass. I imagined that it would be so fun to dress up in jeans, boots and safety glasses and go stomping around a glass city and tearing it apart as if you were Godzilla, wouldn't that just be a great feeling? And I'm not sure how other people feel about breaking glass or the sound it makes, but oddly, glass artists seem to really enjoy it - unless of course it's a piece they care about and after spending two hours on it it just cracks off the punty and smashes to the ground.

I had a few other silly ideas this weekend when I was away at a conference in Corning, New York. The first came up when I wanted to play some board games in the hotel, because I'm not a drinker or a partier. I wanted to make a boardgame for glass artists, and everyone quickly jumped in and told me that the board and most of the components would have to be made out of glass. It's on the verge of being a project I'll actually have to go through, despite the fact that I have absolutely no idea what type of game it would be. Monopoly for glass artists is my favorite, but there could also be a Snakes and Ladders game, though the name isn't quite worked out yet (Pipes and Puntys?). Then there was the concept of trivia games, and well, any sort of board game we could think of.

The second idea came on the way home when we stopped for a lunch break on the side of the highway and just about everyone got obsessed with the claw games that were there, because we had to spend our american change on something, right? I absolutely love the concept of claw machine games, because for a dollar you have the chance to win a larged stuffed animal, but the point of playing isn't to get a cheap toy, because the fun part is getting riled up with your friends while you either work together or battle against each other in an attempt to get that stuffed animal. I thought that I would love to bring that concept to glass, and I came to enjoy the backwards concept of a claw machine to win glass prizes.

Can you guess what the issue with that is? If you like a piece of art you can attempt to win it, and for a dirt cheap price no less, but the catch is that in attempting to obtain it you will definitely scratch the piece, if not break it. The claws could scratch the glass, not to mention the glass dropping and banging against another a piece, and even if you successfully get it in one shot, you're dropping it down a hole, so something bad is bound to happen! I really, really like this idea, though if I actually wanted it to be workable I'd probably have to be kind enough to bubblewrap everything and glue photos to the front of the bubblewrap - but that's not as fun, is it?

The conclusion? Silly ideas are great and they may or may not turn out to have some conceptual value, but that shouldn't matter. Silly ideas make people happy, and I think that's pretty important, because I think the mark of a successful piece is to create one that evokes an emotion.

Wednesday, October 17

Busy busy busy

As Nikki mentioned in the last post (and as you may have noticed) we have been super busy! There will be no battle this week since I was not able to make my sculpture yet and Nikki was the only one to submit one. I do have plans to start and finish it, but not until after my midterms (luckily my last one is tomorrow and let me tell you - I will be sleeping for a whole day after!)

There is not much else going on for me art-wise. I hope to do more of it in the future obviously but we will get there. I will have to use Nikki's method to organize my goals! :P

Take care everyone and I hope you are enjoying your Autumn! For me it is going by too fast D:

Monday, October 15

Working With Charities

          A lot of good opportunities come my way through Sheridan’s glass program, the latest being a charity that has commissioned our studio for a minimum of 500 snowflakes. A lot of things happened to even get to the ‘start’ of this commission, and during the process of creating these snowflakes a lot more lessons will be learned as things get hashed out.
          Details about the order, cost, timing, etc, were hashed out between the teachers and the charity, so the starting point for the students was . . .

1. Designs

We knew that every creation had to be ‘snowflake’ themed, visually light, light in weight, not clear, and that they made an exception that icicle ornaments were alright. We had one week (extended to two) to come up with our own concepts to pitch, some other people’s designs included blown ornaments, press stamps, flameworked snowflakes, sandblasting designs, even paper snowflakes inside of a blown ornament!

I went the route of fused glass snowflakes, despite having no idea how to do that. It was a bit of a mess but by the second time around I figured out a decently efficient way to nip the sheet glass, as well as my firing program and I even saw improvements to my kiln wash. The result? Luckily they were a huge hit! The ladies representing the charity picked their favourite designs and made some people’s lives easier by deciding they liked how clear glass looks. After the fact the teacher’s were kind enough to give us some pointers for the future.

2. Negotiations

            I don’t think a lot of people knew what to ask about when the students had a meeting with the clients. We let them browse through our pieces, explained how things were done, answered any questions and tried to think of our own to ask. We were far too eager when it came to answering and asking questions though, our teacher’s pointed out that that was a bad thing. When the client was satisfied with a clear design, we shouldn’t offer color out of the blue (it’s another step for us, it’s more expensive, and it’s clearly unnecessary). If we have two designs and one is a lot easier to make than the other, there’s no harm in letting the customer be satisfied with the easier design, even if, in our minds, we may worry that we’re limiting the customer and turning them off, but if you ever feel like that just remember, if something’s not broken, don’t try to fix it until it is!

3. Plan of Action!

            So we grouped ourselves off; blown ornaments, icicles, cut and fused glass, and - fused snowflakes! Yay, sweet success! A few issues quickly arose though, the first being that it can be hard to corral a bunch of people, even just four or three, into meeting together at the same time. This delays things a lot, which is bad, so follow my advice and forcibly make plans as fast as you possibly can!
            I also wrote out designs and sizes of snowflake components, because, well, that is a wee bit important. After our first load we discovered that an estimate of fitting 25 snowflakes into the large Italian kiln at once was, lucky us, a little too low! We snuck in 35 snowflakes at one time, so with better placement we can probably fit in a few more! At $3.00 a piece – yes that’s the student’s profits for this commission – Chris and I pulled about $24.00 an hour setting up the first kiln.

4. Quality

            I think the first set of snowflakes turned out great, and only one snowflake didn’t fuse properly! Still, I think the quality of these snowflakes isn’t too great in comparison to the first ones that were made. I care a lot about quality and so I paid a lot of attention to the cutting of the flakes, making sure that all strips are ¼ inch thick. The only issue my flakes have are with little points that for some reason don’t get smoothed over during the firing. The pieces used in this firing ranged from just under a quarter inch up to a half inch, and some chunks were even larger than that. The time that went into making sure the small pieces went with the small pieces, etc, was a bit of a waste, but live and learn, right?

            And that there is about all I’ve thought to share with you folks of the internet. Like always, I’ll try to edit in some more photos later, but despite how proud I am of these pieces I’ve made, it’s funny how I’ve never gotten around to taking pictures of them.

5. Why?

            Ah one last thing, this whole post was important to make because in the future I would like to be very closely tied with charities whenever possible. I have no problem selling pieces off at a low profit so that they can be auctioned off at charities, in fact I think it's a great way to help people. After all, no one trusts donating money to charities anymore, right? You never know where it will go, or how much of the not-for-profit profit goes into salaries. At least in a trade off of a commission I can feel good that I attempted to help out for a fair trade and that someone who wants to help out through a donation of money can recieve and enjoy my art in return. That way, even if the charity is crooked and only 2% of the money earned goes to the charity it's intended for, both myself and one other person will actually get something out of it. 

           Actually, this really goes a lot farther than that. I have big, big, idealistic plans for ways to directly help people out when I'm an established artist, because just because I don't know which charities to trust doesn't mean I shouldn't do anything. I have a feeling that my ideas would crack my parent's heads right in two, as they're aleady so concerned with the near future and the debt from going to school. I'd let a few strangers on the internet in on my great secrets, but I can't have one of you putting the plan into action before me, now can I?