Artists are unique individuals. We each have our own special way of approaching our art.
We sometimes use avant-garde methods to get into the creative zone, but once there we’re consumed by the mystery and beauty of the productive energy that flows through us. Being creatives, we don’t want to take time away from our blissful creating to think about how we handle routine tasks like managing kiln shelves, storing molds and glass accessibility. But these tasks, done more efficiently can lead to an increase in your productivity and in the success of your projects.
Work smarter, not harder.
There’s more than one way to approach everything, including how you set up and run your glass studio. I’m going to share how I do things in my studio in hopes that you’ll see some new ways to increase productivity in your studio.
Welcome to my studio. Come in.
My studio is painted happy yellow. I splattered gold paint over the yellow base to give the place a fun, festive feel. Here’s a secret. I was drinking wine while slinging the gold paint, so the application is a little random but still artsy.
I have 8 kilns that I use regularly. I store my ready to use, primed kiln shelves on the floor behind my kilns. I lean the shelves against the wall behind the kiln that they fit in. They’re easy to reach and out-of-the-way so they don’t bet bumped or damaged. Once a shelf has been used, I leave it out and lean it against a rack along with other used shelves. When I have several shelves that need priming, I clear off my worktable, lay the shelves out and prime them all at once. The shelves dry overnight and are then stored behind the kilns.
I use Bullseye primer. I mix it in a bucket with 1 cup dry primer to 4 cups water. I re-prime my kiln shelves after every use.
My worktables are 4 ft. wide x 8 ft. long and 3 ft. tall. The legs are 4 in. x 4 in. thick for sturdy support. These thick legs support heavy weight and the stress of hammering without getting shaky. I store empty cardboard boxes, a shop vac and trash cans under the tables.
I have 2 Skutt clamshell kilns with amazing new state-of-the-art Touchscreen Controllers. I’m still discovering all of the controller’s intuitive features. So far, I love the ease of use and the vast amount of helpful information available at my fingertips, plus the controllers are WiFi equipped. Also there’s an ingeniously designed app so I can monitor my firing progress from anywhere on my smartphone. (Look for more detailed information of the Touchscreen Controllers, and how to use them in a post in the very near future.)
My clamshells have a 24 in. x 24 in. interior with a 13 in. depth. They’re my go-to kilns for making sinks, elaborate sculptural pieces and my high-end commission work. They’re easy to program, even when the programs are complicated with 8 segments and multiple holds. I trust them to give me consistent, reliable results every time.
I also have a Skutt Fire Box 14. It has a 14 in. x 14 in. square interior. You can fit a lot more glass in a square firing chamber than you can in a round chamber. I love using my Fire Box when I’m making single, one-of-a-kind plates, bowls and vases. It’s quick and easy to load plus fast to fire, with pre-programed settings for all my firing needs. I use my 3 reliable small Evenheat kilns to make quick samples and to test-fire new techniques I’m developing.
My largest kiln, which I call Big Blue, or My Cremation Station is a Denver Glass Machinery kiln. It has a 3 ft. x 4 ft interior with a 13 in. depth. I had it custom made to fuse glass kites for an installation at Tampa International Airport.
It has a clamshell style lid that I open and close with an electric winch. It’s the kind of winch used to take motors out of cars. My wonderful hubby mounted it to the ceiling and rigged a cable. It’s fun to raise the lid to see a new successful project completed.
When opening the lid with the electric motor, I sometimes feel like a mad scientist. After a successful firing I think I know the exciting thrill Dr. Frankenstein felt when his masterpiece came to life.
I store my large ceramic sink slumping molds on a shelf under Big Blue. The huge ceramic molds are heavy. From here I can access them easily and only have to carry them a short distance to the kilns.
Large primed stainless steel slumping molds are stored behind Big Blue. They lean against the wall. Here they’re safe. Upright they stay clean and the primer coating stays in good, ready to use condition. Behind the kiln, against the wall, the molds are out of the way, but still easy to access reach needed.
My smaller ceramic molds are stacked on a wire rack with shelves. I don’t prime my slumping molds every time I use them. I prime molds when they show signs of wear. If the coating looks thin or if it’s chipping off the mold, I sand the mold smooth and re-prime it.
I have two smaller wire racks as well. One holds my kiln posts, spare fiber board dams and assorted tools. The other one holds stainless steel floral formers and kiln wash. Glass cutting boards are stored out of the way alongside my cabinets.
My glass grinder, band saw, and ring saw are always ready to use on a counter located along the back wall of my studio. I keep a bucket of clean water next to the grinder so I can fill the grinder and saws as needed.
My glass is organized by color. Sheet glass is held in a wooden rack. Small pieces are stored on top and full sheets are stored in the larger compartment on the bottom. When pulling glass, I try to use the smaller pieces first. I save the full sheets for projects that require longer, larger cuts.
Scrap glass is stored in plastic bins for safe quick and easy access. When working on a project that uses scrap glass, I simply remove the bin with the color I want and carry it over to my worktable. There I can carefully remove sharp pieces without worrying about getting cut.
I have a huge selection of frit. The jars are organized by color. When I’m working on a project, I choose a specific color palette. So, when I go to the shelves to gather jars of fit, I know what colors to pull. I bought my wire racks and rolling carts at Sam’s Club.
My Thin Fire fiber paper roll is hung on the end of one of my worktables. The box it came in is cut to cover the roll. The cardboard protects the roll from damage and keeps the paper from getting dusty. When I need a piece of Thin Fire, I unroll the paper onto the table. There, I measure it to the length I want and then cut it to size with a straight edge and single edge razor blade.
Hand tools like glass cutters, pliers, scissors and such, are stored on a rolling cart near my favorite work area. From my favorite spot I have a great view of the yard and the wildlife that frequents our property. Plus, I’m close to the large overhead door which I like to keep open even in hot or cold weather. When the door is open my workstation is flooded with natural light which thrills my muse and inspires my artistic creativity.
I have a small clip board next to each of my kilns. I call these my cheat sheets. Here I have a list of the programs stored on my controllers. If I change a program, I make a note of it on the page.
My programs fall into two categories, small and custom. A small program is for projects 12 inches in size or smaller, made with two layers of glass, plus accents. Most of my kilns have a small program for full fuse, tack and slump programed into the controller. The remainder of the programs stored are random, custom programs I use to achieve specific results. For example, my clamshell kilns also have sink full fuse and sink slump programs. Big Blue has an extended 5 day program I use to make large-scale cast glass commissions. While my oval kiln has a firing program for painting on glass stored in its controller along with the small programs.
I have other useful equipment and tools stored in my studio as well. There’s a chop saw, and table saw for cutting wood. A sandblasting cabinet and compressor for sandblasting designs on glass. I have 2 – 12” glass grinder/polishers tucked in the corner, plus two wet saws for cutting thick glass which are stored on rolling carts. In addition, I have assorted drills, nail guns and toolboxes filling the shelves on the front wall.
I hope you found my studio tour enlightening. Hopefully, some of these tips will help you increase your productivity and the success of your projects.
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Wesley Chapel, Florida, 4-Day, Hands-on, Class size is limited.
Sculptural Fused Glass, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop
October 15-18, 2019
Wesley Chapel, FL
Sign up Today! Class size is limited.
You’re invited to join me for this intense workshop held in my private studio in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Class size is limited to 4.
NEW Class Update and Special Offer.
Register now and for the first time EVER, all class materials are included!
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Sculptural fused glass is the creation of three-dimensional forms that rise above a flat plane. Artists create 3-D works by using multiple methods and techniques with complete freedom of materials and process.
In this comprehensive class you’ll learn how to design, build and creatively display multiple stunning pieces of art that reflect your personal style.
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Its hard-core fusing in a nurturing, relaxed environment. You’ll love the concentrated, in-depth study and creative momentum you’ll gain while actively producing nonstop, for four consecutive days. You’ll also learn how to design and build custom art glass displays that enhance your original work.
Due to popular demand, I’m now extending the hands-on curriculum to include a professional photo shoot of your completed sculptures.
You’ll leave class with several completed sculptures, a working knowledge of kiln operation and custom project-specific firing guides. You’ll have the design confidence and hands-on experience to rise above and take your work to the next level.
Creative Slumping Webinar
November 19, 2019
In this detailed Webinar, I’ll reshape the way you slump and drape glass. See how thinking outside the box and using readymade molds in new ways offers numerous and exciting opportunities to produce unique forms.
You’ll learn how to make your own graceful, free-form shaped molds from readily available materials with no laborious measuring or messy mixes needed. Taking you one step further, I’ll show you how to use these different approaches, in combination, to transform ordinary projects into inspiring, sculptural pieces of art!
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