Monday, 10 December 2012

'Music Maker'

Monday, Dec. 10, 2012

'Music Maker'

Here's a commissioned glass panel that incorporates a variety of glass forming methods: kiln-fired stained glass, laminated (UV glue) glass pieces, carved and painted details and sandblast etching/frosting along with the traditional leaded technique.

'Music Maker' (C. St. John 2012)

Created for a music making client and friend, we started with the idea of a 'musical theme' and developed the ideas from there. Beginning with the carved and painted musical notes (from the lower left to the upper right, mostly) I then worked in a more abstract idea of musical notation with 'dots and dashes' of kiln-fired stained glass (from the upper left to the lower right, mostly).

The clear/white 'background' areas are a clear glue-chipped glass with a mottled sandblast etching on the back surface. Representing the 'background' harmonics of multiple musical notes played or sung simultaneously, it also obscures the view beyond during the day with transmitted light and reflects surface light from the frosted areas at night.

'Music Maker' (night detail) (C. St. John 2012)

This night view detail shows the gold painted musical notes, the surface glued kiln-fired stained glass pieces on the streaky yellow glass and the mottled etching on the clear 'background' glass.

The bold bright colours are a departure from my usual pallet, but fit the client's desire for a strong visual impact in both colour and design.

Working with clients on commissioned pieces often stretches my design ideas, challenging me to find appropriate solutions to a particular site and client desires. The real challenge then, is to create a unique piece that fits the requirements and also reflects my own ideas of good design.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Glass Table (and new site is up!)

The new web site is up! Look for some 'adjustments' and editing in the next few months, but I am happy to have many new images of glass projects over the last ten years.

On the home page is a table I made last year for Traditional Log Homes (Salmon Arm, B.C.) that we installed in a beautiful log home they built on the shores of Shuswap Lake in Sorrento, B.C.

This was a bit of a challenge, as other work I have done with 19mm (3/4") thick glass were smaller and easier to handle. Due to the size of this piece 150cm square (60") and weighing  113 kilograms (250 pounds) I decided to work on it without turning it over, as I do with smaller pieces. This required me to do the edge chipping from the bottom up. As the way the 'faceted' edge breaks off while chipping with a hammer leaves an 'undercut', I usually chip this type of work with the finished face down. This makes it easy to 'flake' the edge down and away from my face.  As this is a substantially larger piece, I chose to chip it with the finished face up. This required me to chip it up into my face with shards landing on my arms and scattering around the studio. After the initial chips, I realized I needed more arm protection in addition to the safety glasses and face shield!

Other than the involuntary  blinking as shards of glass hit my face shield, this technique worked well and allowed me to work on it without having to turn it over twice (once for chipping, and another for the finishing work).

The edge finishing was done with a hand held 1 1/8" wide wet belt sander, with a variety of belt grits, finishing with a cork belt.

We installed the piece on a four hundred year old upturned stump that came from a tree from the house site. The sandblasted edge frosting accentuated the tint of the glass (due to the iron content) and gave the piece a 'melting ice' look.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

"April Showers" / Ultra violet epoxies

Although it's July and we are getting some warm weather now, this piece, "April Showers", is one that I made more than 12 years ago, when I was first using ultra-violet epoxies with the kiln-fired stained glass, bevels and one or more sandblast etching techniques. On tempered glass in wood frame: 40cm X 119cm (16" X 47").

This is a simpler version of what I have been making in the last few years, although it still has its own appeal with the streaks of colour and 'torn' look of the wispy etching. Here's a detail which shows the surface etching, applied kiln-fired stained glass and bevelled glass:

The one part epoxies that cure with ultra-violet light that have been developed for the flat glass industry are made by many manufacturers, but all employ a similar technique. The epoxy is applied to either piece to be glued, pressed together and then exposed to ultra-violet wavelengths of light (sunlight or tanning bed light) for an 'initial' cure. The length of time of the 'initial' cure depends on the strength of the particular wavelengths required by that manufacturer's specifications and the colours of glass being assembled (experimentation with your materials is always part of the process). After the 'initial' cure, the still water-soluble epoxy can be trimmed easily with a knife (if the 'initial' cure was not too long) and the remaining epoxy residue wiped away with a bit of cotton cloth sprayed with a liquid glass cleaner.

The etched areas are 'masked' by a variety of techniques: 4 ml. self-adhesive plastic for the large clear areas and several different applications of wood glue, scratched through to expose the areas of glass to be sandblast etched. After the sandblasting, the wood glue is washed off and the other resist materials removed.

I call this piece "April Showers" as it makes me think of the sunlight and snow/rain/sleet that comes at that time of the year here in southern British Columbia.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Updated web site delayed..."Fishing Heron"

Well, the best laid new updated web site is stalled due to some unexpected events with my web designer. I am assured that things are progressing and the new site will be up soon.

Meanwhile, back at the studio- I DID finally get  a carved glass piece finished that I began drawing two years ago. I can chalk that up to my own distractedness and/or the demand for custom work over the last year (which kept me busy with the lure of immediate compensation...).

This piece, "Fishing Heron", is sandblast carved into 12mm (1/2") thick glass and is 52cm X 81cm (20 1/2" X 32") in a wood frame. The feathers in this design illustrate to dramatic effect the 'layered' look of the relief carving as contrasted with the delicate surface etching in the lower right of the design. The soft shading of the surface etching is really easy to over-do, so proper lighting in the sandblasting booth and a deft hand are essential to get the desired effect. As with all sandblasting (etching or carving) you really have to get the result you want on the first pass. The carving takes longer to achieve, as some depth of glass is being removed, but if a mistake is made in depth of cut or sequence of working through the design, there is not much leeway to correct it. As with working with glass in general, there is not a lot of 'forgiveness' for mistakes. Detailed planning and careful execution is always necessary to achieve the desired effect.