This weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to share my process with colleagues and glass enthusiasts at the annual Glass Art Society Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. In the months leading up to the conference, I prepared new work and found exhibition sites, practiced my demo and invited all of the extended glass family to join our community on the west coast of Florida. All the studios, museums and galleries around town were getting ready for the event, so there was a palpable buzz. I have to say, I am extremely proud of the job that everyone did. We shined like diamonds in the sun.
My demonstration assignment was at Zen Glass Studio in the heart of the Arts Warehouse District. They specialize in flamework but also have a hot shop and cold shop to professionally make glass projects on any scale. This studio happens to be owned by dear friends, who made me feel comfortable and took the anxiety away from performing in front of an audience. Everyone was there to get my torch set up, find the few things I needed, and set me up with a cup of coffee.
At 8:30 am on Thursday morning, I began opposite one of my mentors, Robert Mickelsen. He was set up outside and I was set up inside the same studio. No pressure. He was just the one who taught me how to pull a point in the first place and now I have created an entire installation around this technique. I felt as though my career had come full circle from the 19-year-old girl asking to sweep the shop so I could watch, to where I am today.
First, I started with a short explanation about my installation “Promise”–why I have felt inspired to collect found objects, shining a light on the value of nature in these uncertain times. Next, I selected a few pressed flowers and a seed pod to adorn with 22kt gold. Once they were drying, I grabbed a piece of recycled thin wall tubing and pulled down a point on one end. Repeating this process several times allowed the glass to cool down enough to add the gilded natural objects. One tube at a time, I cut an opening in the first point so as to not create vacuum pressure, then carefully directed the flame away from the pieces inside and closed the other end. When I had finished the second end of all six, I added hooks and flame-annealed them. Lastly, I closed the bottom of the point with a very soft flame.
In closing, I took a few questions and made the decision to donate these pieces to raise funds for the Glass Art Society. The support of this community has been paramount to my growth as an artist. I am always learning something new and ever curious of what role glass can play in my work. It was a wonderful experience to be a demonstrator. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my work.