The past few days have been filled with firings of production work for orders and examples of production work for the upcoming Buyer's Market of American Craft show in Baltimore. As I sweltered in my 82 degree, humid studio Saturday afternoon and evening, I realized anew how much I like doing my current work. Yes, it is production work--which means that I might make anywhere from one to 40 of the same piece at the same time--but it is so much fun to make each and every one that I can't even think of it as making "the same thing" over and over. Color-blending frit rules. Then there is the beauty in the layout of the many as well as the beauty of the one. It's almost like quilting with glass.
When I crank the iPod up and rock out my 80's music, I like to focus on the larger patterns of the layout on my work table that will be lost as soon as the pieces are moved to the kiln. For example, the layouts shown are of 24 6" square plates in the "Fresh" colorway. I laid up 12 pieces at a time and got lost in the flow of the frit across piece boundaries. Notice the direction of the color in the squares in the first set above (photos taken after layers four and six) and the layout of the squares in the second set (also after layers four and six). I try to use the same pattern whenever I lay up a large number of square pieces, to minimize errors from exuberant but careless frit flinging, and in the second lay up I accidentally flipped one of the squares 180 degrees. The difference was obvious--and fascinated me--after the fourth layer, but it was much tougher to spot after the sixth.
Can you see how I would get lost in the patterns? Every piece is the same, and every piece is different. Each layer of frit and color brings a new pattern, a new watercolor painting for me to admire before I move each piece to the kiln for the glass to be transformed in texture, color, transparency by the heat. These 24 pieces are part of the current order from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I fused 78 pieces for them since I got back from Portland last Tuesday night.
Notice I said "fused". I am on my way to Montana today after only five days in the studio. I had over 160 pieces to make between my return from Portland and leaving for the BMAC next week and even firing full loads in every kiln every day, there was no way to get them all done. The only way to meet all the deadlines was to outsource some of the work. Clearly it wouldn't be efficient to both fuse and slump some pieces, but it worked out quite well for me to do all the fusing and then have someone step in to help with the slumping.
Lucky for me I have A Village--in this case, my long-suffering husband and Judy are stepping in to slump everything for me. It will take them five or six days to get it all done (and require meticulous instructions and firing schedules from me to make it work), but I have faith that they will rise to the occasion and I will come back from Montana next Wednesday to all orders shipped, and all my new work for the BMAC done and ready to load up Thursday (I leave for Baltimore Friday... WHEEEEE!!!!!) After 16 years, am I making a glass artist of my spouse, or does he just feel really, really sorry for how overwhelmed I am right now??
I took this final picture a couple of weeks ago when I had an order for four large award pieces and 58 earring trees in cobalt blue and lime green. I didn't have the cobalt/lime glass already made so I had to run up a few sheets to smash. The picture is of the four awards--16" X 24" each--and the six 4" X 20" strips of cobalt and blue. Bertha was full, full, full that day!