Glass is so versatile as a creative medium, it seems that an artist is limited only by his or her imagination (and the size of their kiln, of course). My process is based on kiln-formed glass techniques, but is my own, unique approach. Kiln-formed glass is different from blown glass, which most people are familiar with. That is the method where an artist rolls a blob of red-hot glass on the end of a long pipe and blows into it to make shapes. That is not what I do here at Glass Bird Studios.
Instead, I use glass made by the Bullseye Glass Company in Portland, Oregon. This glass comes in different forms: as flat sheets (such as what a stained glass artist might use), as thick or thin rods, in blocks known as billets, and as ground glass frit. That's where my creative focus lies: glass frit comes in multiple grades, depending on the size to which it is ground: coarse, medium, fine, and powder (which is the consistency of flour). I take these colored powders and combine them with a powdered binder and liquid medium I developed that is used to make Modeling Glass. The dried piece is then fired in a kiln, usually between 1275 and 1325 degrees F. This is a fairly low temperature for firing glass, and in this way I can create exquisite detailed textures on the surface of the object, and overlay subtle shades of color.
After the first firing, each piece is coldworked with a hand-held grinder to refine the edges, then additional coats of frit powder are added in layers. One piece of glass will go through several firings, each taking approximately 10 hours. During the final firing, a metal form is placed underneath the glass, and the piece is heated until it "slumps" into the shape of the form. In this way, each glass feather has the same graceful, aerodynamic curves as a real feather. The final piece is then fitted with hardware for secure hanging, or is mounted on a sculptural base, if it is a tabletop sculpture.
It's a time-consuming process, and every piece is painstakingly crafted by hand, making each one a truly unique work of art.
How Glass Bird Art is Made
Low-temperature firing allows me to create incredible detailed texture and color blends.