For more than a year, I’ve been taking classes and renting studio time at DC Glassworks, a public access glass blowing studio in Hyattsville, Md. Each time I’m there, I learn something new–whether accidentally or on purpose! I love the challenge of hot glass and discovering what you can do with it.
To mix it up a bit (and because I seem to be rather addicted to working with glass), I’ve also tried out a few sessions at the nearby Washington Glass School. The “warm” glass studio uses a different set of techniques and produces a different type of finished piece. Most recently, I gave bas-relief sculpture a try. Here, you’re creating images in dry plaster, cutting glass to cover the surface, adding color (or not), bringing the glass up to temperature in a kiln and seeing what happens when glass melts into the plaster surface. The result: multi-dimensional and textured shapes rising out of a flat glass surface.
As with hot glass, the color you begin with doesn’t always look the same, or stay in the same place it started, at the end. We experimented with clear, glass frit and color sheets on the first day of class and had a night to imagine what we wanted to create on day two.
I went with two panels: one with geometric shapes and another inspired by my new favorite bit of nature–a tree. Here they are assembled in the kiln awaiting firing:
As usual, there was at least one surprise in store for me when the amber of my tree trunk became blue, making the finished piece a bit more abstract than I had intended.
I do, however, love how this technique gives you a combination of texture and a more precise design than you can easily achieve with blown glass.