Monday, May 3, 2010

Designing a new glass studio

Designing a New Glass Studio

I grew up in Tulsa, OK and am moving back there to live. This will give me the opportunity to have a new glass studio 4X the size of my current workshop.

I will also be able to set up a welding station and begin to create larger pieces.

Moving to a new studio means packing and transporting a LOT of glass about 1200 miles from central Virginia to northeastern Oklahoma. About one-third of the sheet glass has already made the migration.

The new studio space has a lot of light streaming through large windows with full southern exposure and large windows on the east and west walls as well.

The windows are framed-in low in the walls so it will be a challenge to position all of my work surfaces and storage bins without blocking the light.

How best to use this 25' x 14' space? I need to think about the flow of work as my creations emerge from raw glass to finished piece. From glass bin to light box to cutting table. Then on to layout and grinding, etc.

I will be building an island workstation in the middle of the room, about 10' x 5' in size. My friend Sam Birchall is going to do the actual construction. Estimated construction date is the 3rd week of June.

So the July blog should have a video of that project and pics of the first creations from the prairie studio of Feral Glass. In June I will write about an artist's perspective on how art lovers can get the best deals at an arts/crafts fair.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Three sheets to the wind - Experiments in glass design

I love outdoor glass and I like having it suspended in space, where it can catch great sun.
And great wind.

If you read my blog about the glass kites, you can see where that can become an issue.
But I was not willing to give in to the wind. I like the wind and wanted to make my art co-exist with it, rather than fight it.
I wanted designs that allowed the wind to cut through, rather than against the art.
A series of experimental panels seemed called for. I would make a number of large hanging panels, and vary the techniques and designs used.

I needed to learn about proper and sufficient anchoring. The openess of the design was the second issue. Just how open must it be, to avoid a fatal gust of wind?

The "Canyonlands" and "Prairie Clouds" series are designed as two triptychs, or series of three panels.

The simple designs are meant to give some similarity of line from panel to panel, while allowing me to use increasing swaths of open space in the designs as I moved from right to left.
You can see that they vary from just small slits, to openings about as big as your fist.

These catch a LOT of wind. They sway a bit in moderate breezes. But the way they flap in a 40+mph gale is not for the weak of heart.

Now it was time to explore the other end... just how open could I go?
The piece needs to hang together, in fair weather and foul. So I needed to learn more about just how to balance "strength and structure", with having an attractive design.
"The Tempest" and "Night Sentinels" were the far extreme.
"Night Sentinels" came first. and I had a small spot of separation in it after the first storm.
You can see it in the photo if you look closely.
Where the left-most red Sentinel touches the blue cyclone above it, the copper foil separated from the glass as the center of the piece saged 1/16".

"The Tempest" came next, and survived outside without mishap for over a year.

I had learned the outer limits of structural openness.

These two pieces remain among my personal favorites, and they served as "proof of concept" for an interesting series of outdoor glass panels.
They now are in the collection of my friend Tom McGowen in Memphis.

To double-check what I learned from earlier panels, I designed the "Marshside" triptych.

I had just gone camping with my dog, Heather. We had a nice little tent site at the edge of a small marshy pond.

Frogs and birds aplenty.
So "Marshside" helps capture that setting and bring it back to my porch.

The openness has some good aesthetic qualities. It attracts the eye to, and then through itself.

It helps to anchor my art visually, making it a part of the environment; interacting with it instead of standing apart.

You can enjoy watching the clouds scud by.

I especially like seeing the trees sway in the breeze, while looking through my glass panels.

Or watching a bird swoop and perch on a nearby branch.

The smallest birds actually perch/flit on the green bowl-shaped piece at the far left of this panel, titled "Marshside Left".
Two years of experiments and careful observation have paid off. I now have some beautiful glass panels that barely sway in the gales. They improve my outlook during all four seasons.
Email me if you want garden panels like this. They may improve your outlook too.