You know that old chestnut about necessity being the mother of invention? Nowhere is it more true than in a kiln-glass studio. At least in mine. I’ve repeatedly found myself having to research subjects about which I was completely ignorant, learning a new skill (such as brazing stainless steel for a sculpture base), or experimenting with an unusual new material.

Mica in the raw. I collected this from an old quarry.

Case in point: I’ve been working with glass frit powder in a variation of the pate de verre technique, making three-dimensional glass bird feathers. Many real feathers have iridescent surfaces and glint with metallic tints when the light catches them at certain angles. I wanted to figure out a way to emulate this effect, but Bullseye Glass doesn’t manufacture iridescent frit. What to do?

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Light on fire, indeed. Racks of glass in the Bullseye warehouse. (Photo by Lois Manno.)

I had a notion of what to expect from BECon 2013, because I’d been to other professional conferences. I expected a room full of vendors (check), a plethora of high-quality presentations by professionals in their fields (check), a party or two, hobnobbing, networking, etc. (double check). The opening reception at the Bullseye Gallery in downtown Portland was stunning, and the Lehr-B-Que dinner held at the factory was crazy fun. What I didn’t expect was the way BECon would cause me to think differently about the world of color—and my place in it. read more

With my new home glass studio set up and ready for production, I launched into the Tint Tone Plate project included in my Bullseye Tech Notes binder. The Starter Kit that came with my BenchTop-16 kiln included all the glass needed to make two projects, and this Tint Tone Plate looked to be the easiest of them. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to hone my glass-cutting chops, which were rudimentary at best. read more

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Lois Manno is a New Mexico-based writer, artist, and illustrator. She’s also a newcomer to kiln-glass who’s agreed share some of her adventures in her new medium here. She blogs about her art and other adventures – including cave exploration – at loismanno.com.

Oh man, I’m in it now. After having such a great time with the two Bullseye workshops I’ve taken, I thought I’d be satisfied attending the Open Studio sessions to work on pieces and get them fired. It was a nice experience, being in the studio at Bullseye Resource Center Santa Fe, doing my thing while surrounded by other artists working on their projects. I left my pieces in one of the kilns and picked them up a couple of days later. The only problem was that I was going to have to wait a couple of weeks for the next Open Studio. Unacceptable. I had become so hooked on the thrill of cracking a just-cooled kiln to see the goodies inside that I couldn’t imagine having to wait so long between firings. The solution? A kiln of my very own.

BenchTop-16 kiln

My new toy.

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