Thursday, February 15, 2018

New Clips from the Kiln

The magen david and the doves have already been claimed! I need to add chain and box them...and then they are off to their new owners.

I have more but they need to be photographed. Jewish Arts Month is around the corner, so if you need to buy some affordable hand-made clips come see me at the Jewish Community Center here in Portland Oregon the week of March 18-23 or contact me directly to order custom clips.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Artist Statement Reviewed

Hebrew letters and other images often dance across a fanciful screen in my mind’s eye. Translating this dance of letters and images becomes a meditative experience. I journey deeper into the meanings and fight the limitations that a solid yet fragile medium offers me.  The rest of my world is put on hold, I lose track of time, and I become fully absorbed in  meanings beneath meanings and beyond meanings. The product of my meditation is rarely as complex as the journey I have taken. I laughingly refer to my work as shiny, pretty things....but beneath that language is a hidden urge to share my relationship with the sacred.

I'm going to start preparing for Jewish Arts Month in March. I'll have a table in the MJCC lobby for a week (more details will follow soon.)

Trying to take it easy as I recuperate from that nasty cold, I am trying to take on small projects that aren't too taxing. Today's effort was revisiting my artist statement. 

It was actually comforting to see that the same things that motivated me several years ago still holds true for me today. This one is shorter, but essentially the same message.

I worked in Stained Glass for a good bit of time...I introduced it to my high school students  who quickly developed the skills to make beautiful small windows. Ultimately, working with stained glass as a medium never really resonated with me in any significant way. I was blessed to stumble onto glass fusion and for the first time I had artistic visions.

Artist statements are challenging....often they are written in the third if the artist asked someone else to speak about them. I do think it works in many cases...but I think my statement should reflect me. It should sound like me, and it should sound like it is coming from me. 

The exercise is important. Why am I doing this work? Why do I create? Why am I obsessed with these shiny, pretty things?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Few Days Off...and a Few More!

We took a few days off at the beach. Blessed with some beautiful weather, we were able to take some lovely walks on the beach. Unfortunately, I have developed some bug that so far is just inhabiting my throat. I am hopeful that if I just rest up and take things slow, I might beat this bug quickly.

So, no glass updates for at least a few days while I rest up and get healthy. I have several small commissions due so I hope to be back in my studio soon.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Everything is in Place!

Everything is complete but the new Torah covers...which will be completed within the next two months.

It was quite special leading services last night. The residents were so appreciative of the new space. I  introduced the Sanctuary Song and they all sang loudly with strong voices. These lyrics embody the theme of the words adorning the we discussed what the words meant:  "Build for Me a Sanctuary that I may dwell among you."  Here we were, sitting in a beautiful new space...a sanctuary dedicated to prayer. Another interpretation of those words is that we are to create a space within ourselves where we can welcome God.

Two individuals who attended services are not Jewish. One  spoke to me about how he can no longer attend church services. This was his first time in a Jewish service and he felt so comfortable even though the liturgy was a little different from his own! The second individual has been a regular for years!

One resident asked to speak with me after services and he referenced one of the lines in the song;  " thanksgiving, I'll be a living sanctuary for You."  He looked at me and proclaimed, " I want to be a living sanctuary! How do I do that?"

It was a lovely conversation and whether I answered his question satisfactorily or not, he seemed pleased.  I left feeling like the collaborative effort of donors, staff, architects, board members, and artists was absolutely worth it. We wanted to create a holy space where residents; all residents regardless of their faith or practice, could come to pray, meditate, or just be. 

וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Ark is Finished!

    Build For Me a Sanctuary that I may Dwell Among You 
                 וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם
Exodus 25:8

These beautifully polished, laser cut steel letters were crafted by metal artist Stu Luxenberg. 

On a literal level, this passage from Exodus seems to have God  telling us to construct a building for God to live in.  Many commentators have also interpreted this to mean.....create a space for God inside of ourselves.

The beauty of this interpretation is that each of us has the capacity to embody godliness. In Judaism we list the attributes of God as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abundant in kindness and truth, forgiving...and more. If we strive to embody these traits in ourselves then we create space within our hearts for godliness.

This new chapel is a holy space. A space not only for  residents to come for religious services, but also a space for contemplation, meditation, or just quiet.  I am grateful to those who funded the renovation of this space and to Gary Pearlman who designed this Mikdash, this sacred holy space.
Stu Luxenberg generously offered his talent and materials to create the beautiful letters.  

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

NER TAMID: The Eternal Light's not the best picture...and it isn't installed yet. 

What you see is a mid-century modern swag lamp that was just wood and metal. 

We found it hanging in an antique shop and snagged it immediately.

Gary (Pearlman) lovingly took it apart and spray painted the shiny brass metal rings (top and bottom, and the end cap a more pleasing pewter. I have glued in iridized red glass rectangles into the large spaces while allowing light to come through the the narrow slots.

I am looking forward to seeing the whole picture of Ark, still cut letters, glass and the Ner Tamid.

Stay tuned. I promise to pictures!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Windows Installed

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

4 year-old works with frit and small bits

I'm uncomfortable posting pictures of young children....especially when they aren't mine....thus, no beautiful punim (face) for you to see. This sweet 4 year old was on loan to me yesterday. She wanted a  mezuzah for her new bedroom. 

She drew a picture of what it should look like. I cut out the base glass and provided her with a selection of materials. She was pretty faithful to the pattern but was remarkably flexible in using colors she hadn't yet considered. 

Using chunky frit and some finer frit, she was confident and comfortable handling the glass. I pre-fired some of the smaller glass elements so she could safely handle the pieces without fear of cuts and blood.

It was a quick overnight fusing...a klaf, two small screws, and a bracha are all she needs now to mount it .

This special young girl saw beauty in each color and piece of glass. She was delighted with every effort she made and was very proud of her work when finished. Isn't that the aim of education? 

I used to teach high school students. They were all "at risk". But I can imagine that when they were young, they still possessed that spark of curiosity and joy. Something(s) or someone(s) deadened it for them along the way. May this little one be blessed to keep her sparkling personality, sense of curiosity, and pride in her efforts. May she always know that although things we try to do don't always come out perfectly, they reflect our best efforts....and that matters!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


The Ner Tamid or Eternal Light is essential to the synagogue space.
We selected a mid century modern swag lamp that is complimentary with the wood used for the ark and reading table. I thought putting glass in it would be easy...but I quickly discovered that the points of contact between glass and wood are slender. 

I have glued in just one piece as a test. For once I actually have a plan B (I hope I don't need it!)

Come back tomorrow....I'll tell you how it's coming along.

And now I am off to have a date with a charming 4 year girl who wants to make her own glass mezuzah for her new bedroom. I will post pix of that adventure later!

Monday, January 15, 2018

ALMOST! close!

This is Harold Vail, the amazing craftsman who built the ark and the reading table. He's pictured here checking the fit of the glass panes.
The right door fits perfectly but the left panes will need a bit of grinding.

Harold is a perfectionist and you can see the value of his craftsmanship in everything he makes! The doors weren't closing as well as he wanted (without the glass) so, the doors were taken home with him. On Thursday morning he will install the doors along with the glass panels. 

Next on the agenda is to cut and affix glass to a mid-century modern light fixture and convert it into our Ner Tamid; our Eternal Light.  One might think that should be our very last step in completing this beautiful chapel....but nope....more yet to come!
Stu Luxenberg will be adding some gorgeous polished steel lettering to be affixed to the ark, and Diane Fredgant is hard at work designing new Torah mantles.  She has shared some of her thoughts with me....and I think it will be positively thrilling to see and use these new items!

Kudos again to Gary Pearlman for his visionary designs and to Harold for his remarkable craftsmanship.

More gratitude goes to Dave Becker at CSP for coordinating between the architects, designers, contractors, and us humble artists.

I'll devote a later column to the Cogan and Glasgow families who have sponsored the remodeling of this holy space.... they are a blessing to our community and deserve to have much more said about their efforts.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Scraping Bottom

Today was chore day....I scraped off the old kiln wash from the shelf then repainted it with fresh wash....4 layers.

Once the shelf is recoated, it goes into the kiln and is fired to cure the wash.

After cooling off, it is ready for use and now pane #5 is firing.

Pane #6 still needs some clear confetti...I'll take care of that in the morning....and tomorrow afternoon it will go into the kiln.

I am hopeful that there will be no more distractions or interruptions. With a bit of luck, the panes will be completed by Sunday and will be installed sometime next week. I will definitely take pictures!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

....And now the GRINDER!!!!!

This is my old Wizling grinder.....that has been sitting dormant for too long.

The rule of thumb is to remove the grinder bit if you won't be using the grinder for awhile...otherwise the glass dust turns into a cement and locks the bit in place..... apparently, I didn't subscribe to that rule!

It appears that I never even finished cleaning it after I used it last, so that's a double shame on me!

A couple applications of WD-40, a locking wrench and a screw driver are getting me somewhere....I'm just not there yet!

So why do I need a grinder now? The 5th pane is about to get fused (yes,  #4 is a success!!!!) and I will likely need to grind down the edges of each pane so they will fit in their slots in the new ark.

Sigh.....1 giant step forward....and a couple steps back.  Assuming I can remove the old bit and get the new one on...I will do better on maintenance......a giant self promise!

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Source of the Shut-Down!

Relay Switches!
Apparently if one goes bad, they all have to be replaced. 

Ellison Kiln Works to the rescue. Mr. Ellison arrived on time, completed the work and charged me what felt like a fair price for replacement parts and his time. 

The first test firing went well. Test # 2 is in process with something that counts but is small. If all goes well (it will!) then I can begin firing the first of the remaining three ark windows tomorrow.
Phew!  Fingers crossed as this last set of firings takes place. I am anxious to get these installed!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Unglamorous Parts of Glass Art

SLUDGE! With time off from the kiln, it seemed like a good idea to focus energy on cleaning. In fact, I have been negligent about cleaning out my glass saw....something I am typically quite good about.
Glass particles mix with water and create sediment at the bottom of the saw. Some folks scrape it up, save it and fuse it. It is ugly. I don't do that. I throw it the garbage.

So my saw is nearly spotless again...and I have only a few more pieces to cut before I can proclaim the ark door project complete. 

I cleaned up the kiln room as well.... the floor is swept, stray scraps of glass have been tossed, and tools returned to their rightful homes. The studio ( a separate space) is still a mess...but I'll get to that in late January.

Hopefully the kiln will be repaired in a day or two.... I can hope, can't I?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Three Dog Night!

What does one do to keep warm when your kiln is on the fritz???? Call in the dogs!
From left to right:
Django (almost 9!), a cuddly, sweet, Portuguese Water Dog staying with us for 2 weeks while his Mom and Dad vacation in Paris....
Bruno (5), my son's fabulous and handsome rescue dog (and alpha male of the batch) visiting us along with my son (yay!).....
Navi (1), our lovable and very active pup who will celebrate his one year adoption in two weeks! 

Last night we had a fourth dog visiting to help us ring in the new year...but it was impossible to get a photo of all four!

Jan 3 is just around the corner....I'm looking forward to welcoming the repair guy then!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

My Kiln Has a Boo Boo!

I'm no kiln repair person, but my diagnosis is that the relays in my kiln are done in.  I had a small project to fire and when I checked on the kiln the next day, the computer said the project was complete ....but the kiln was still on...and firing hotter than the programmed settings. I thought I shut off the kiln a second AND a third time...but despite the readings on the computer, the kiln continued to, everything is now shut off at the fuse box until repairs happen.

             I found someone who does these repairs but he's on vacation til next week.  The last pane is in progress so the only hold up is firing. 

It's a great opportunity to catch up on other things, like cleaning the studio some endless task complicated by the fact that I am a terrible organizer!  Oh well, I guess the kiln shut down is a blessing in disguise!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Don't Let the Light Go Out !

It's the darkest time of year but we have winter holidays that bring light to us .

Chanukah ended at sundown what does that have to do with my glass blog?

Glass is all about light. Light passes through it, reflects from it, and offers us color, pattern, and, and sparkle!

The Ark door windows are progressing. Since I am working on the mirror image of the left door, there are no new photos that reveal anything new. The fourth window is complete and the 5th should be competed by the end of the week.

Let the shine in !

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Kiln Action

Two of the three panes have spent time in the kiln. Pane #3 will go in tomorrow.

Today I brought the panes to the ark to check on fit (they are slightly too large ... which is an easier problem to solve than if they are too small!)

The designer of the windows was there to see his design come alive!     Check it out!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Panel #3 !!!!

I am a couple days behind schedule...harumpf!
Life demanded my attention.... but finally, the third panel is completed! 

Tomorrow I will fuse the top pane and hope that all goes well. Before I start the next set of three, I need to cover the middle and bottom panes with least an hour or more of work! 

I'll then take the master "cartoon" and flip it to get a mirror image.
That will be an hour of drawing before I can cut out the pieces for the remaining panes.

It's very exciting...exhausting....exilharating...with small bouts of frustration mixed in! Honestly...the frustration is pretty minimal and mostly has to do with my lack of patience.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Confetti Glass Adds Texture

Look carefully ...I am holding onion skin-thin clear glass called confetti. I have been laying this down on the the clear glass around the flowers, stems, and leaves to add some texture and visual distortion to the clear background glass. It is time consuming...but more successful than my attempts at trying to find a firing program that would accomplish the same thing, failed.

I tried using lava cloth as one option...but the patterning was too regular:

While I didn't cover the entire test piece with confetti, the piece below shows you a sample of the distortion I can achieve with clear confetti. 

I think the first panel will be fired on Sunday....stay tuned!