Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Art In the Glass

This being Saturday, one could assume I would be:

1. In Wilmette with Lola, having her perpetually overgrown molar trimmed (her vet and I now simply refer to it as The Tooth);
2. At glass class; or
3. At glass class after having The Tooth dealt with, and depositing a grumpy mini-lop at home.

Today was #2. I have been working on an original design that I have had in mind to do since I first laid cutter to glass a couple of years ago. I'd long wanted to translate some of my art into glass, especially the trees I enjoy painting. More than one person has commented on the stained-glass quality of my painting, and I was curious to see how it would translate.

Designing the pattern took more than three classes, as it involves much more than drawing the pieces on paper. I had to learn how to look at all lines as possible cut lines, determine just how far I could push a cut. I drew the pattern several times (it's large, approx. 24" x 36").

As I was cutting the pattern I continued to change it as I realized how extreme some of the lines were; it's an excellent learning experience. Throughout it I would ask Fred for his comments, and he gave me good guidance. Sometimes others who were at class would comment also, and we all got into the process.

As the pattern emerged I could see Fred taking interest, albeit in his typical low-key way. We discussed glass and what I wanted to accomplish, and he helped me pick out some excellent material. Today was exciting because I finished cutting and grinding the glass for the central picture. In fact, I was so deeply concentrating that I managed to slice the crap out of the ends of two fingers. It went something like this:

Me: "Crap. I cut myself again."
Fred. "Band-Aids over there."

(ten minutes later)

Me" "Crap."
Fred: "Band-Aids over there."

At the end of class the glass was cut and pieced, and the ends of my fingers looked like Kevin Spacey's at the end of Seven.

Fred has a glass easel that allows you to assemble a larger piece to see how it looks with light through it. Glass is applied with tacky wax, which is exactly what it sounds like. As I was piecing the picture on the glass, a woman came in looking for glass. Fred showed her what he had, they discussed color, and then she came over to where I was finishing on the easel.

"I'd buy that," she said. "Or I'd love to make that pattern."

I told her I'd probably do several treatments of it, as I wanted to experiment with various effects. Fred told her to make an offer. I demurred, and when she pointed out that one of the colors in the tree was what she was looking for, I found a piece of scrap I'd saved and gave it to her. She was so happy she kissed the glass.

After she left I said to Fred, "I really have you to thank for how this came out. Your glass advice has been invaluable."

"You made it all by yourself," he replied. "You made the pattern, you designed the whole thing yourself."

As the piece has progressed, Fred has become very active in suggesting glass and effects, and I can tell he really likes the piece. He even talked about having classes that are run by someone he trains.

It's nice to see progress. Oh, and the Algerian bakery next door makes homemade chocolate croissants that they sell for only a dollar apiece. Who could ask for more?


SP said...

Well, they COULD give you two for a dollar.

JC said...

Oh, and they have the most excellent coffee in the entire world. It's HEAVENLY. They're Arab, and it's funny when one of the guys, who's married with a son, mans the register when I come in. His wife, in her head covering and robes, peeks from the back to make sure I'm not up to funny business. Considering that I usually wear baggy trousers and a knit cap (think 14-year-old skate kid) all day on Saturdays because I don't shower in the morning, the idea of me as a threat is highly amusing.

Tragically, they don't have decaf, and I gave up caffeine several weeks ago. Of course, that didn't stop the surly women at Latino Dunkin' Donuts from screwing up my order (remember this is the place that put strawberry cream cheese on a bagel when I requested veggie, and where they resent my speaking English to them only slightly less than my speaking Spanish to them.)

So when I started shaking after a half hour I realized they'd given me regular coffee. Might explain the bloodbath that was my fingers.