Glass Art with Julia Kellaway / Experimenting with the Alchemy that is Glass Fusing

Since I wrote last, I’ve been very busy. This is a bit of a departure for me at this time of year, as I usually spend a lot of time resisting my inner hamster, who just wants to snuggle down and hibernate until springtime.

In the middle of our garden is a large Acer tree that finally finished shedding its masses of leaves, so I spent a lot of time tidying up after it. Add a few misty mornings, the glimpse of a song thrush rooting around amongst the leaves and cue that indescribable moment when inspiration hits and ideas fall into place, leaving me feeling uncharacteristically energised. 

Following much scribbling, it was off to the workshop to cut, grind, foil, solder and finish no less than three projects all at once, one of which was sort of abstract. If you have seen my work you will know that abstract is not really my thing. I find it worrisome and very challenging to throw caution to the wind and abandon my usual style.

I’ve also been experimenting with the alchemy that is glass fusing. Put very simply, fusing involves cutting up different bits of glass, making up a pattern or design and putting it in the kiln to melt back together again. I had this light-bulb moment type of idea about using fusing to customise backgrounds for my paintings. Brilliant! Now, I was never very good at science, but because of the way things happen, glass fuses to a certain thickness that doesn’t really lend itself to lead or copper foil work. So, this is another departure for me, especially as my few previous attempts at fusing were a bit of a disaster. 

Needless to say, fusing isn’t as simple as it sounds, and it challenges my inner control freak to put something into the kiln not quite knowing what will emerge after firing. So I put together some small random pieces, which, kiln ready, looked like they had been just thrown together. However, apart from a few oddly shaped bits, which I think look nicely quirky, the results were surprisingly good, especially after I painted them up with whatever inspired me at the time.

Working seasonally, being immersed in and inspired by the season I am in, I don’t plan ahead, and as a consequence I miss the boat when it comes to things like Christmas. I am a member of Made in Mortimer and when I see the lovely seasonal wares made by other group members I feel somewhat conflicted about what I do. I find myself inexplicably worrying about whether stained glass is an art or a craft. Should I be more crafty than arty and make some Christmas decorations to sell or remain true to my art?

In the meantime, I received a nice email reminding me that the Open Studios website goes live in the New Year. As yet I haven’t even given it a thought. Oh dear! 

It occurs to me that I may have been indulging in some displacement activity when I should be getting on with things Open Studios! And, although stained glass is an involved process, it does allow me a lot of time to think, maybe sometimes too much. 

So, In the spirit of the coming festivities, I’ve resolved to let go of my worries, embrace the season and enjoy my art for what it is. Oh, and I made some snowflakes!

However, you are spending Christmas, I wish you peace and happiness, and hope you join me in the New Year to find out if I meet the deadline.

Julia

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