Saturday, April 10, 2021

Fusing Ideas

            Over the years, I have dabbled in many different art forms. At one time, I made candles and wove baskets and macramé plant hangers. I learned how to quilt and to make pottery on a wheel. I tried my hand at watercolor and quilling, both of which were quickly set aside for lack of ability…and patience. For more years than I can count, I’ve had the pleasure of working with artist Kymm Hughes to learn the art of fused glass. The process of layering glass and combining colors and designs gives me a sense of accomplishment, much like when I finish writing a book.

Fused glass is different from stained glass. The temperament of the glass is different, and whereas stained glass is seamed together with foil and solder, fused glass is basically melted together in a kiln. In a nutshell, I start with a flat piece of base glass, then cut and lay out my design, gluing the pieces in place and then it is fired in a kiln. At this point it is still flat. Once cooled, it is set on a mold for slumping, which is the process of again heating it in a kiln until the glass “slumps” into the design of the mold, sometimes making a deep bowl and sometimes a dish with simple curved up corners.

                                                                                                                                    What is so much fun is creating the design for a piece. Sometimes the

glass needs to be cut very specifically to fit a space or a pattern. Other times, like the fish, I used only scraps I found in the bins to design the picture I wanted. Even the smallest pieces a glass are kept in different color tubs to be used at some later point.

            Since this is a writing blog, you know where this is going, right? It’s easy to see how similar creating a fused glass piece is to creating a story. Both start with a blank slate – paper, computer screen or piece of glass. Many times I start writing with no more than a basic idea for my story. Will it be straight romance like the bowl of flowers? Should I make it with overlapping colors and layers for a mystery? Are the characters intensely detailed and multifaceted like a mosaic? If you look at the multicolored abstract photo and the blue/sunflower picture, notice they both are made with rectangles but the overall finished pieces are so very different. I see that in my writing as well. I might write two contemporaries but the colorful characters, the difference in settings and the arrangement of scenes makes each story unique.



            Once in a while it’s fun to try something new and totally different. I wondered if I could put a small sand dollar in-between pieces of glass – basically adding something foreign to the mix. We didn’t know what the sand dollar would do – would it hold its shape while being fired or would it explode? In writing, that something different for me is writing time travel; a combination of present and past with a twist. Will the change in some basic element in the story create a new and different pattern, or will the whole thing explode on my computer screen and leave me with a gaping hole in my plot? There’s really no way to know until I try. That’s what I love about my time travels--all are totally unique in design and format.

            If you enjoy trying new things, I encourage you to search for a fused glass studio in your area. Sometimes classes are taught through colleges; sometimes by individual artists.  If you like reading something different, I invite you to try a time travel from my Books We Love library:

            Prospecting for Love

            Spinning Through Time

            Loving Charlie Forever

            Hold on to the Past


Here’s to trying something new.


Barb Baldwin



1 comment:

  1. Trying something new can always be fun. When I think about all the hobbies I've had and were abandoned, I laugh. Keep writing


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