For working artists, life in the studio isn’t just about coming up with creative ideas and executing them. There are technical challenges to be solved too, especially when it comes to mediums where the firing process creates the finished product. Today, we explore a challenge the AMusinGlass team faced, and how they worked through it.
Medium and message
“Art is limitation. The essence of every picture is the frame.” – GK Chesterton
This sentiment has been echoed many times and in many different ways over the years, by diverse artists – from the French painter and sculptor Georges Braque, “In art, progress lies not in an extension, but in a knowledge of limitations,” to the actor and director Orson Welles, “The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.”
Working with restrictions like time, space, and materials bring our imaginations into contact with the real physical limitations of the world around us. The collision is an incredibly fruitful one, as we figure out how to bring an abstract concept into physical form, through color, shape, and texture.
Whatever medium we work in, our materials provide many of the limits within which we work. For example, a clay sculpture demands a base sturdy enough to support its own weight. Glass needs to be layered in such a way that it will maintain its texture and color after firing. Paintings cannot be any bigger than the canvas they are painted on.
The studio workhorse
The glass kilns are the true workhorses of the glass studio at Creative Gateways. Although Pilisa, Terry, and Marika utilize various (and dangerous) glass cutting tools, sandblasters, and torches, none of those would be necessary without the transformative machines that are most fundamental to their art. Just as the ceramic kiln is carefully monitored to create the optimum environment for Michael & Sumati‘s ceramic work, the glass kiln is central to the glass work that the AMusinGlass team creates.
Pilisa on a Studio Challenge
We’re lucky to have several kilns, a tall one that is great for pot melts, a small octagon that is used for smaller projects, and a really big one, which is 28 inches deep by 42 inches wide. That’s the limit to the size of the work that can be made; anything bigger than that just would not fit into the kiln.
There have been some problems with the shelf in the largest kiln. The first one was made of a very fragile material. It was able to withstand high temperatures, of course, but eventually, it broke in half.
Other shelves available were heavy and cumbersome to use. That is when having limits starts to become a problem: when the kiln becomes unwieldy, you start to develop an unconscious resistance to using it. Finally, after a lot of research, a new lightweight, easy to use shelf was found.
It is incredible what a difference this equipment upgrade has made. It is now really easy to fire large pieces and we have been able to move ahead with projects that were put on hold. There is a fine balance between the creative restrictions that allow artists to thrive, and those which hold us back. (Think about trying to write with a pen that doesn’t work, or on a computer where the mouse isn’t functioning. It starts to become frustrating; a part of you just stops wanting to try.) Now, we have the freedom to expand again.
Come and see for yourself
Come and see our big kiln in action, or find out what the latest problem is that our artists are solving. We love to talk through the different challenges that come up and share the solutions we’ve found. You can drop in at any time to see our day-to-day work in action, and don’t forget about our events and workshops, including a Fused Glass Windchime class coming up in October!