In late January I traveled to the Corning Museum of Glass and participated in Jeri Warhaftig’s week long studio class, titled Kiln Casting and Sandblasting. Despite the decidedly frigid weather (-25 Celsius!), my 5 classmates and I kept our minds warm with new ideas involving large kilns and hand crafted pate de verre molds filled with crushed glass.
We started with small pendants and progressed to larger, lidded boxes as well as beautiful leaves of different varieties. We chose soft glass from the American company Bullseye, with a co-efficient of 90– a more densely saturated set of colours than my usual 104 coe glass from Effettre. We were exceptionally lucky to have our reusable molds supplied by Colour de Verre, a company located in Portland, Oregon. As the week went on we began to experiment with sandblasting and different kinds of resists. And it really was a blast! So many choices for colour and lid decoration; from pre-cut stickers to hand-cut vinyl shapes, raised enamel or addition of small glass rods. We even took advantage of the cold weather and tried the “freeze and fuse” technique. Who knew you could add water to glass, freeze it and then fire it to a solid state? Hearts, leaves, stars and even Lego men came out of the kiln!
As a student at the studio one is offered a variety of experiences and learning opportunities. That week we were lucky to have two tours through the museum with the well known Australian artist Richard Whitely. His enthusiasm, insight and knowledge of glass and art made these evenings particularly special. We also had an evening of presentations given by the 4 guest instructors of the hot shop, the flame studio and the cold working studios. Students were also invited to share a photo or two of their current work. During the days we could attend presentations on photography and marketing, or have our work critiqued by the studio directors. All helpful as a glass artist.
After 6 intense days of work and experimentation, we mopped the floor and packed up our boxes. My colleagues were a very eclectic mix and we shared many good stories and meals together. With her vast knowledge and over 20 years of experience with glass, Jeri shared her insights freely with us and I’ve come away with renewed energy and excitement to explore pate de verre.
Boxes and beads are on the horizon.