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Taking On The 30 in 30 Challenge

This new year brings with it more than the usual amount of "newness." Glass Bird Studios moved from New Mexico to Juneau, Alaska late last year. I love it here in the Northwest, though the short days and long, dark nights made me very glad to see the winter solstice come. Later this month I will be showing my work in the Juneau Artists Gallery, and have been pushing hard to produce new work for that opportunity.

When I read about the 30 Frit Drawings in 30 Days Challenge on the Facebook page Fused Glass Fanatics, I was intrigued. I love working with frit, and have always enjoyed drawing. What a perfect way to pull myself out of production mode and into pure creativity! Of course, making art is always productive, but I am letting myself range widely in the images I select to work on during the challenge...whatever catches my eye is what I will do, rather than staying within some self-imposed notion of consistency or theme. This activity will be about exploring glass using the technique known as sgraffito.

This morning I viewed today's Facebook post by the wilderness guide, author, and photographer Lynn Schooler, who also happens to live in Juneau. The striking photo he posted of a raven in snow struck me as the perfect image for my New Year's frit drawing. I was delighted when he gave permission for me to use the image as inspiration, so I got to work.

I cut a piece of white opalescent glass 5 1/2" x 9" and sifted a thin layer of black opal powdered frit over the top. Using my fingers, various small brushes, an Xacto knife, and clay sculpting tools, I pushed the powder around, subtracting it, defining forms, and creating texture. It was suggested that the first drawing be fingers-only, but I was more interested in getting the right results for this drawing...something I could not accomplish with just my fat fingertips!

I photographed the piece when I was satisfied that I had adequately interpreted the spare elegance of Lynn's original photo. Tomorrow I will fire the panel and think about what I want to do with it next. It's snowing in the source photo, and I need to see if I can find a way to represent snowflakes against the raven's deep black body. It's a challenge that I'll address in later firings, probably by adding white frit powder.

In the meantime, this image of a raven in winter is my first contribution to the 30 in 30 Frit Drawing Challenge. Thanks to fellow glass artist Kelly Alge for launching the challenge. I'm happy to be one of the 300+ artists participating!

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