July 2019 – I am starting a new glass project for a local client. I was asked to create a piece that would tell the story of her great grandmother’s (Sara) journey and tie-in related historical facts. A secondary theme is the progress of transportation over the years as Sara’s story began with a covered wagon and ended with jet airplanes.
I was given a lot of leeway on this design, and glass was suggested, but if you’ve seen my work before, you know I rarely use just one medium. So this project could evolve to include metal or other materials besides the art glass as needed.
Most Recent Photo: June 3, 2020 – Here’s a composite photo of the glass pieces – all ready to be put together once I get the lighting! Can’t wait!!!
The design is painted on glass, with three inset fused to main sheet to add some dimension. I’ve taken text from the client’s writings and surrounded the image to help tell the story.
Taking this concept further, I have used the shape of the state of Illinois and created a new scene showing some of the historical events happening during Sara’s time spent in that state. This theme will continue through with her journey to other states as well.
In this example, we see Lincoln in a parade, John Wilkes Booth trying to escape capture after assassinating the president and broken shackles representing the Emancipation Proclamation. Although these events didn’t happen in Illinois, they occurred while Sara was living there and were world changing events.
Art Glass Techniques
Here is a shot showing the complete scale of the project. It is 66″ x 48″ (1.67m x 1.22m) and will be built in stages with some states elevated higher than others (relative to their importance in the story).
Creating these art glass pieces is long series of various techniques. I start with the clear glass and cut the shape of the state using a diamond saw. Next I layout the design and paint the black outlines on the glass using special glass paint which will fuse to the glass. I will fire this piece in the kiln to cure the black paint and then start adding color.
I have the next state in the journey outlined as well. Indiana is actually earlier in the story, but since I had the sample for Illinois, I made it first.
Indiana’s design shows Lincoln taking the oath of office after being elected the 16th president. I’ve also included a rural farm scene to represent Sara’s early years spent here.
I have 3 insets to design which will represent events of the era, such as the beginning of the Civil War.
This is a new way of painting for me, as the paint itself is different, and I have to be patient (who, me??) and wait for kiln firings in between layers. I’m using a tube with a fine tip instead of brush (in some cases), so although I can apply my acrylic painting skills to some degree, I have to adapt to the new medium.
July 16, 2019: I have the first four states drawn to various degrees. Illinois and Indiana are painted in black and have had their first firing. Iowa is painted, but not fired, and Minnesota is drawn on paper.
July 19, 2019: I needed a bigger light table to work on, so I found a 24×28 ceiling light panel and flipped it upside down. It’s a little bright, but the surface area is great to work on. I’ll find something to either diffuse the light or install a dimmer.
July 21, 2019 – More progress with painting the art glass state of Illinois- it’s almost done and should be ready for the kiln later today!
Illinois and Indiana are ready to go in the kiln tonight! 😀
July 23, 2019: After eighteen hours in the kiln, the paint is cured! It’s always exciting to open the kiln and see how things turn out. 😀
The hands are separate pieces with hand formed shackles made of steel. The blank squares will have smaller painted glass pieces fused to them in the next stage.
July 27, 2019: The next state up is IOWA! I have the black outlines done and it’s ready for color to be added to the wagon train theme.
Here’s a quick look at how Iowa relates to the other states. You can also see some small parts I’ll be added on to mark the cities and also build a fence.
August 15, 2019: I was happily interrupted by a VIP – “Very Important Pencil” that had to be carved and flown to LA (more on that later!). So now that my life is back on track I’m back in the glass studio painting Iowa! 😀 Here’s a look at where I am today:
August 19, 2019 – Three states are in various ‘states’ of completion! Indiana just needs one more tack fuse to add the insets, Illinois is ready for the surface fuse (with paint on the back to get the final glass finish on top) and Iowa is just about finished. They all need the text around the outside edge.
Here’s a closer look at the three insets for Indiana – I LOVE the little pig! 😀
Minnesota has started with some work on the sky! I used stringers for the yellow rays to get a little depth, and will be adding blue sky and clouds.
August 24, 2019: I’m finally on my home state of Nebraska! 😀 There’s a lot going on with this one, as it is home to many of the stories in Sara’s life. I have a majority of the black painted, and hope to finish it soon, then it goes into the kiln – and then I can add color.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s paint has been fired, and soon I’ll be fusing the sky pieces to the main glass!
August 25, 2019: I have the Nebraska black outlines painted! 😀 I’ll get the colors done (I hope) over the night and into tomorrow.
August 30, 2019: Here’s some more progress for Nebraska! 😀 I’ve got a lot of the detail work done, and am now finishing up the larger areas. Hopefully it will be fired this weekend!
September 1, 2019 – a busy day for the kiln! 😀 Nebraska is out and South Dakota is in! 😀 I’m really happy with how Nebraska is looking, but I still need to add flags for the suffragettes and of course, the text around the border. Meanwhile, the black is painted for South Dakota, so it’s in the kiln with barely enough time for it to cool off!
September 2, 2019: I’ve made a short video that shows the process of the painting and the firing.
September 5, 2019: I’ve got some of the color down for South Dakota, but still a bit more to do. In the meantime, I have some metal projects calling my name, so now I divide time between the studios!
September 8, 2019: More progress on South Dakota! I’ve fired the color I had, as well as the blue frit in the sky. The blue frit gives the sky a depth and blending that sets it off nicely from the scene below. Just a little more painting to do before the next firing! 😀
October 13, 2019: After some time away to work on metal art, I’ve been back in the glass studio to work on South Dakota and Minnesota. The vast Minnesota sky is fused glass, with the lower section painted. South Dakota has it’s main scene painted, but I will still be adding a train, and of course text.
January 31, 2020: It’s been too long, but I am back on this project after a VERY busy Christmas season making saws. I was able to get back in the glass studio and start work on the text which will go around each state. This will help tell the story and explain a little about what the images symbolize.
February 3, 2020: More painting still to do! I’m blocking in some white paint so that I can add a steam engine to this piece.
February 17, 2020: Here are some detail shots of what I have been working on this past week.
Most Recent Photo: February 24, 2020 – I had a setback in the studio this week as 2 states (Nebraska and Indiana) suffered irreversible damage in the kiln. I tried several methods to save them, but the last firing ended any hope at salvage. Well – onward I go!
February 25, 2020: South Dakota is almost done – once I fuse the ‘photo’ to main glass, I can set it aside for a while. 😀
February 26, 2020: More states are coming out of the kiln. Here is Illinois!
March 8, 2020: I’ve started remaking Nebraska and Indiana and have the black lines painted and fired! Now to add some color and get back on track! 😀
March 10, 2020: Indiana is getting closer to having all the color painted, and should go in the kiln soon! 😀
March 22, 2020: Here’s a closer look at the three states I’ve been working on this week.
March 23, 2020: Nebraska was fired last night / this morning and is looking MUCH more colorful now!
April 3, 2020: I’ve added a little more to Nebraska and worked on the arms this morning. Slowing coming together! 😀
April 21, 2020: The final firing for Nebraska is happening tonight!
April 24, 2020: I’ve got all of the major painting and fusing done, and now I ‘just’ need to assemble everything so it can hang.
And here are the suffragettes holding their flags.
May 6, 2020: I have engraved the state lines on the backing piece and am now smoothing them out. Here’s a very rough example of how the edge lighting will work.
May 10, 2020: I’ve finished the etching and am working towards assembly! This could be the toughest part of the whole project! 😀
June 3, 2020: I now have final photos of the states and can make a ‘final’ composition image to share. 😀 The next photo I post will be the complete project with lighting and (maybe!) installed!
June 9, 2020: I have the materials for the edge lighting and am getting the final frame and assembly together. SOOOOooo close to completion!! 😀
June 18, 2020: Here’s a short time lapse video showing me build the piece.