Keeping warm

No matter how low the temperature, the studio’s kiln room stays warm. Since mid-January we have been running the kiln almost every day, usually completing one process overnight and another one during the day. I’m making functional bowls and my first two projects sold quickly during opening night at a gallery exhibit in Scranton. Getting that kind of response further fueled my enthusiasm for fusing!

My fusing design style is related to my flat glass style, but the approach is much more direct. For windows I draw in 1:10 or 1:5 scale with pencil or on the computer, and electronically sort out glass colors. It takes many hours over the course of a few weeks to complete a design. But to create a fused piece, I simply sketch out on paper what I have in mind, usually including a few full-size pieces for Jay to cut out of glass. When I get the colored glass shapes from him, I lay them out on clear base glass on the kiln shelf. Next I add glass frit (glass crushed in various grades) and move it around with spoons, tweezers, and cheap artist brushes. For that step I rely pretty much on intuition. Once I’m satisfied with the look, Blue Gull bowl on Kiln Shelf the project goes into the kiln for at least 12 hours to fuse the glass flat. If it survives the fusing phase without cracking, we wait for the glass to cool enough to handle and check for stress. Sometimes it has to return to the kiln to correct surface defects. Once the flat piece is finished, we place it back into the kiln on a mold and set a different kiln program to heat the glass enough that it will slump into the mold. That phase requires at least 8 hours. If slumping goes well and the finished bowl looks good, Blue Gull Rimmed Bowl I’m a happy woman.

A collection of fused bowls and plates will be ready for exhibit at the Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show near the end of March. The show’s website has a great new look and we’re among the featured artists. Furthermore, a photo of Jay’s “Blue Shift” is featured in the PIF ad in the spring issue of American Style. If you are not already on our mailing list and want a discount pass to this outstanding show, just ask us via phone (570.585.2096) or email (glass@paulukonisstudio.com).