Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Introducing a New Love
This summer, as I struggled with painting, I decided it was high time to take a breather from that frustration and redirect my creative energy. I signed up for a local stained glass class to learn some of the basics of cutting glass, grinding, copper foiling and soldering. I had dabbled in stained glass with friends when I was in college, but I never took it beyond cobbling together scraps into little ornaments.
It takes me a long time to work up the courage to commit to trying something this different and out of my league. Once the day arrived though, I was pretty excited. A special shout out goes to the fine people at Muk Luk Magpies Stained Glass Emporium - these are people who are invested in helping people discover the enjoyment of working with glass.
After spending the day working on a simple sunrise pattern, I was pretty hooked. The part I was most nervous about, cutting glass with out taking my fingers off, turned out to be my favourite thing. Grinding and fitting the pattern was also a exciting thing to learn. I need to work on my soldering quite a bit, but that will come in time.
Part of the reason it took me so long to resume my interest that started in college was the fact that I had small children and stained glass (lead in the solder, chemicals for patinas etc) do not mix that well. I figured that now that my kids are a bit older, it would be less of an issue. After everything went so well, I proceeded to do some research on what tools are best to get new, what I could get away with used and built up a little collection. I also had a friend, Cheryl Bakke Martin, who is quite gifted in glass pass along 3 bins of glass remnants that she had been toting around for a while.
Once I started to set up my studio space, I ran into a number of issues. The main one is that I don't have a studio anymore and playing with glass in a space where children roam is not good a idea. My son had moved into that former studio space and we gave both our girls their own rooms. With this challenge, we decided that we needed to carve out workspace in our unfinished basement/shop area. This has been an interesting cohabitation with my husband's tools. Some reorganizations have happened and we are at a pretty good spot now.
I have decided though, that for now, I will work in glass with mosaics, rather than stained glass. The main problem is the soldering/patina issues (I know I can get studio time at Muk Luk Magpies, but it isn't practical right now, I know I can use lead free solder, but for fiddling and learning that will get expensive) We don't have a laundry tub or separate sink that I can use for cleaning and I am really weirded out by the lead and other crazy chemicals. I don't want to risk my kids. The way our house is laid out, installing another sink is not an easy solution.
Anyways, I'm okay with this arrangement, mosaic is a deep love of mine and I've been content cutting basic tesserae and getting a feel for all the different types of glass in my little scrap bins. I want to start from the bottom and get a deep understanding of this beautiful and unpredictable (to me) medium. I want to get to the point where I can work without heavily focusing on each tiny step of the process.
I have such an appreciation for people who pick up the arts as a hobby later on in life - doing this brand new stuff is not easy! I am not used to struggling with simple things or figuring out how stuff is going to turn out. It has given me a whole lot of respect for this medium as well. I do want to get to the point where it looks easy. For now, not all of it is easy.