most artists I work in a series. My work usually starts with
an idea or feeling that I want to convey. This feeling, if vague
at the onset, becomes clearer as I work through the process.
The glassblowing process and the blown form are merely a starting
point for my work. After a piece has been blown and put into
the annealing oven its life has just begun. Before it is finished
it will return to the oven twelve more times as the layers of
paint I apply to the surface are permanently fired on.
series I am working on currently began as I was anticipating
the birth of my daughter Lucia. While looking at medical illustrations
of zygotes, embryos and sub cellular organelles, I was struck
by a similarity to my drawings and began interpreting them in
my own style. Soon I developed the vocabulary of imagery that
I now use and am ever expanding. Wanting my drawings to have
a feeling of movement and depth, like focusing the lens of a
microscope to reveal layers of cells within a slide, I fashioned
pieces with creases, folds and soft undulating curves to be
the vehicles for this imagery. By allowing the forces of heat
and gravity to play a part in shaping the hot glass form, I
am able to retain the feeling of fluidity in the vessel that
glass has in its molten state.
use of colored glass as the ground for my painting allows me
to take advantage of the light as it passes through the lustrous
color or is reflected off the surface. It is this evanescent
quality, unique to glass which makes the imagery come to life.
begin a body of work by producing a series of glass forms. Working
directly with the glass on the blowpipe I aim not to duplicate
forms, but rather to give each piece a unique quality. After
blowing a series of forms I shut down the furnaces and move
on to the next stage in the development of the work. The glassblowing
studio becomes a painting studio where I can work on several
pieces at once, bringing them to completion over the next few
directly on the pieces with luster paint (a commercial glass
paint that must be fired in a kiln to permanently fuse it to
the surface of the glass), I work to create a flow of imagery
around the vessel. Once satisfied with the initial composition
and feeling of the piece I fire this first layer of paint onto
the glass by placing it into the annealing oven and bringing
up the temperature slowly and carefully. The moment the oven
temperature reaches the slumping point of the vessel it must
start cooling very slowly to anneal the glass. I keep a close
watch over this entire procedure which takes two days.
cooled I then begin painting again, and in this way, by repainting
and firing the pieces many times I layer their surfaces with
overlapping color and texture to create the final character
of the piece. A dozen or more layers of paint will be applied
to each piece, and each one fired separately. One vessel takes
nearly two months to finish. The luster paints I use consist
of metal oxides suspended in a brownish colored medium which
has the consistence of warm molasses. In the kiln the medium
burns off and the color is brought out as the metal oxides become
one with the glass. Since all the colors appear the same before
firing I must envision how the finished piece will look as I
am painting it. Just as heat and gravity play a part in my work,
so do the constraints of the painting and firing processes.
These forces always add an element of surprise to the process.
By allowing these natural elements inherent in my craft to play
decisive roles in the outcome of the product, and by maintaining
an environment in which my will and the power of those elements
can combine, a flow of work develops in my studio in which one
piece affects the next.
the painting progresses my concerns shift from the broad look
of the composition to more specific elements within the painting.
I think about the character of each shape and the color and
drawing within them. As the piece matures it takes on a life
of its own and begins to inform me as to the direction I will
follow. Some areas are made more vivid, some blended, others
hard-edge. Sometimes I overlay small drawings on top of large
forms and often employ the pointillist technique, smattering
the surface with thousands of dots.
this lengthy process I hope that in the end the works retain
a spontaneous and expressive energy. Many times the artistic
process seems to me like practice. Practicing not for perfection
of technique, but rather the expression of ones spirit within
established guidelines of a medium, and the friendlier one becomes
with those guidelines the less they appear to be restrictions.
It is here, within the boundaries dictated by the medium that
creation occurs, and it seems the more I focus within those
boundaries the more room I find for creativity. Like examining
the life in a tidal pool, the closer one looks the more one
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