When we moved to Finland, I was quite sure I won’t be looking for a job in high-tech and wanted to focus more as an artist. I like working with different media – metal, wood, glass….. but start with what I have been working towards – a Kiln-formed glass artist.
I have been dabbling in Kiln-formed glass (also sometimes known as fused glass) while in California. Had a small shed dedicated to hold a small kiln there but after moving here, found a place with a detached garage. So, during summer converted the garage into my studio. To begin with, glass is the main medium I am using but getting ready to expand it to include metal work (specifically fold forming) and a bit of wood work as well (probably mostly during summer time).
Just before we moved to California last time, I happened to go to a glass museum and saw a piece which had pure silver (I think) and glass mixed into a sculpture. That really spoke to me and got me searching for classes. My journey took me from learning a bit of metal-smithing to metal clay. My first Metal clay teacher noticed my interest in color and glass and introduced me to Bulls Eye glass and let me play a bit. That got me hooked but took me a few more years before I completely stopped working with Metal clay (and enamels…ooh! enamels) and move to glass. Of course one of the compelling reasons was cost! Silver is quite expensive and so mostly can work on jewelry and also becomes less affordable when your sales skills aren’t up to par! Other few reasons are ‘colors’, ‘colors’ and did I say ‘colors’? There are mainly 2-3 different types of art glass to play with and of course they don’t play nice together. Each glass has a different COE (coefficient of expansion) meaning they expand and anneal at different times and rates so if you mix them they break. Since I was introduced to Bullseye glass first, I continued using them.
Living in bay area was a boon in that regard. There is a Bullseye glass shop right in Emeryville and twice a year they have huge discounts or if you buy bulk (and are wholesaler), you get the discount. So, prices seemed quite reasonable and affordable to play and experiment and… Before moving to Finland, I did check to see if Bullseye glass is available but didn’t check prices. After moving, the first thing I did was to look for a kiln. That’s when it started hitting me how different it is from US to here in terms of prices. From kilns to any hardware you need it’s almost twice as expensive. Lot of the tools are not even available here. Some equipment like a tile saw with specific requirements couldn’t be found and I had to special order. Thank you Amazon! if not for Amazon, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to put together the studio.
Locally I haven’t been able to establish a bond with any of the glass artists much. I got used to having support groups or people who are willing to give advice, point to a resource etc. But here, I have to say I miss that camaraderie. Maybe over time it will get better. I did, however, found another kindred spirit who works with gemstones (aah! that seems like another lifetime ago that I worked with gemstones as I too started this journey working with gemstone jewelry). A few weeks ago, we decided to do a show or two for holidays together as what we both do are compatible but not exactly competitive. Having the first Open Studio this coming weekend along with sale.
Next year, I want to try and see if I can meet more local artists not just in kiln-formed glass but also in blown glass, metal smithing etc and expand on the Open Studio concept (I learnt in California) where people can visit the studio, see the studio, ask questions, buy some art etc. Here’s to the future.
Last few months of playing in the studio, I definitely feel I am more myself, more relaxed and enjoying working with glass than before. Maybe it’s the environment or maybe it’s the peace and quiet here but even November grey skies can’t dampen it:) . Honing a few different techniques and styles I want to make my own. Have a few projects in mind for next year, one of them a joint venture with my son!.
And when I mentioned to my husband that the projects I currently have in mind should be done by end of spring, he asks me “which year”…. Hmm.. good question indeed for more projects enter my brain all the time….