Thursday, March 30, 2017

Abstract Spiral in Glass Tile Smalti Mosaic

My first abstract art.  When I began, I didn't have a very clear idea of what the finished piece would look like.  I wanted to create a feeling of movement and rising within the confines of the high-walled box.   I loved the freedom of letting the colors just fill the spaces and discovering what the art would become.

abstract spiral mosaic smalti finished orsoni glass sun yellow blue italian italy
Finished Italian smalti mosaic of an abstract spiral

This mosaic was done inside a a slide top 6 bottle wine box.  Someone at the local wine store gave me quite a few of them for free.  It was harder than I expected to work in a box with such high sides because there was never a good place for my arms and elbows.  But I like the re-purposing of an item and getting a bonus knick knack shelf after it's complete.

abstract spiral mosaic smalti wine box orsoni glass sun yellow blue italian italy
A side view of the wine box

The shapes in the completed mosaic are based on a 2011 photo from a spiral staircase in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

abstract spiral mosaic smalti wine box spiral staircase Thailand
My husband's photo of the spiral staircase

As I began the mosaic it was hard to find a direction.  I didn't know if I should start work in the middle or begin out in the corners and work towards the center.  I randomly chose to start with the lighter mid-section hoping to get a feeling of rising, but in the beginning it looked very much like an eye. I hope that part recedes in the finished mosaic.

abstract spiral mosaic smalti progress orsoni glass sun yellow blue italian italy
My progress of the abstract spiral

There is a meditative quality to creating a mosaic that I have not found in any other medium.  It was almost therapeutic to lose myself in the tedium of placing each tiny bit.  I truly enjoyed working on this mosaic and am sorry to see it finished because I will miss spending time with it.



Thursday, January 12, 2017

Trees in Glass Tile Smalti Mosaic

I have spent the past few months playing with mosaic trees in glass smalti.  I wanted to work on something natural since lately I have been drawing and painting cityscapes with a focus on perspective.  I actually use a ruler and think in strong shapes, concentrating on lighting and architecture and what makes a place unique.

Trees do not work that way, they are leafy and organic and a huge challenge.  This is my second glass tile tree mosaic.

tree smalti mosaic looking up ireland forest blarney castle finished orsoni
Finished Italian smalti mosaic of a tree

Here's a close-up of the mosaic so you can see the differences in the height of each piece of the glass.  The edges are not sharp so you can run your hand along and feel the texture.

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A close-up of the cut smalti glass tiles

The single tree mosaic is based on the left most tree in my daughter's photo.  She snapped this picture in the forests surrounding Blarney Castle.

tree photo looking up ireland trees forest blarney castle finished orsoni
Cece's photo looking up into the trees
tree watercolor looking up ireland trees forest blarney castle finished orsoni
The watercolor created from the photo
tree smalti mosaic looking up ireland trees forest blarney castle finished orsoni.
My first tree mosaic

As you can see from my first tree mosaic, there were some major scale issues and I lost so much of the detail by trying to complete the entire scene.  Pretty discouraging.  The finished size of the first mosaic is 17-1/2 inches by 13 inches, while the single tree mosaic is the same height at about 13 inches square.  I'm always disappointed when something doesn't come out the way I envisioned, but I needed to start somewhere.

tree mosaic smalti forest progress orsoni glass blarney castle ireland italian italy
My progress on the single tree mosaic

Work on both mosaics was slow going.  My time was very broken up and spread out which made it really hard to find a groove.  I found myself getting too close and worrying about tiny details and forgetting to step back and see the big picture.  Probably a metaphor for my life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An Orsoni Mosaic Class with Italian Smalti

I had the incredible opportunity to spend 5 days in Venice at the Orsoni Master in Mosaic class.  It was a week of uninterrupted making surrounded by creative people that value both art and the process of conceiving it.  My teacher was an invaluable resource and my classmates were amazing.

orsoni finished burano mosaic smalti venice class master italian italy flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto Sharon Warren
Finished italian smalti mosaic of Burano

This is my first time working in mosaic.  I have spent the last few years working in fused glass so this mosaic required a major shift.  Quite a bit of time was spent thinking about my project, finally settling on a photo of Burano that my husband took last November.  I painted it in watercolors to get more comfortable with the perspective and the lighting.

orsoni watercolor burano mosaic smalti venice class master italian italy flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto Sharon Warren
My husband's photo of Burano
orsoni watercolor burano mosaic smalti venice class master italian italy flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto Sharon Warren
The watercolor inspired by the photo

Before starting, I made the conscious decision to focus on gradients and take advantage of the enormous color library at Orsoni.  All of the glass we used is made on site at the Venice foundry so you are surrounded by glass on shelves, in bins, in barrels, rainbows of color are just everywhere. 

orsoni color library venice mosaic master glass smalti italian italy
Orsoni glass library in Venice, Italy

We shaped our glass with wheeled nippers, a hammer and a hardie and in a classroom across from the furnace building.  The teaching style of the class was completely hands on.  You arrive at 9am Monday morning and start picking glass almost instantly.  Antonella allowed each person to find their individual style, providing knowledge and support as each person needed.  I struggled some in the beginning to come up to speed on how to use the hammer and hardie but finally got the hang of it.

orsoni classroom color library venice mosaic master glass smalti italian italy hardie hammer
Orsoni mosaic classroom

Slow progress was made the first day, placing the smalti cut side up as I worked out both size, pattern and color placement to get the depth.  I worked pretty late most nights and started pretty early every morning.  Here's my some pics of my progress over the week.

orsoni progress burano venice mosaic master glass smalti italian italy flutterbyfoto flutterbybutterfly
My progress over the week

This mosaic class came at a time in my life when I really needed a shot of inspiration.  This Navy move hasn't been easy, it's our tenth home and our third time living out of the US.  I have been unable to find much of a maker community and my windowless workshop is in a closet between the toilet and the washing machine.  This has left me in a kind of funk and feeling pretty unimaginative and unmotivated.

Thank you to all my classmates and to Antonella for rousing my artistic spirit!  I wish everyone happy creating!

orsoni progress burano venice mosaic master glass smalti italian italy flutterbyfoto flutterbybutterfly
My amazing classmates and all the work we created

The Orsoni Master in Mosaic Class is a once in a lifetime experience and I loved every moment of it.

orsoni progress burano venice mosaic master glass smalti italian italy flutterbyfoto flutterbybutterfly
A heart carved into the stones in the tunnel outside Orsoni

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fused Glass UGC Enamel Paint Italian Cityscape


cityscape landscape Italy Sicily UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto Catania final
Finished UGC Painted Italian Cityscapes

My first attempt at glass landscapes using UGC enamels.  These might be more cityscape than landscape, but I love drawing all the intersecting lines.  I based my glass sketches on photos I took in downtown Catania, a larger city in Sicily. 

Italy cityscape landscape trees UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto sicily catania
Old Buildings in Downtown Catania, Italy

This Italian city is filled with really old buildings surrounded by newer traffic signs and asphalt streets.  I tried to include some of the architectural detail and some sort of newer vehicle. My drawings were done in UGC Outline Black.  It was hard to decide what to include from the photo and what to edit out.

drawing cityscape landscape UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto building
UGC Black Outline of A Building

After the black was set, I layered the UGC colored enamels to give the buildings depth.  I had to wait for each adjacent color to dry before adding another to preserve crisp edges.

color cityscape landscape UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto building
UGC Fill Paint Dry and Before Firing

Here's a photo of the painting process.  I think my favorite tool to apply the UGC enamel is the toothpick.  I try to use a new one each time so the paint pots don't get contaminated.

color cityscape landscape UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto toothpick
UGC Fill Paint Wet and Before Firing

Each building was fired with a different kiln schedule.  The colors on the red building did not mature completely before sandwiching between glass layers and formed more bubbles and a different texture.  I'm not sure which firing I prefer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fused Glass Workshop in the Harry Potter Closet

The US Navy has moved us from Jacksonville, Florida to Sicily, Italy this past summer.  My glass workshop was downsized from an expansive 2-car garage to a much smaller laundry room closet.  It has a 5-foot door that opens into an awkward space nestled under the stairs.  Oh well.  We are getting settled and my new shop is almost complete.  

fused glass workshop italy closet harry potter stairs bullseye flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
Fused Glass Workshop (the Harry Potter closet)

The space might be tiny, but the view from my front door is huge!  Here's Mt. Etna right after a rainstorm.  It is an active volcano so maybe a show is in our future.

etna volcano art fused glass workshop italy closet harry potter stairs bullseye flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
The View of Mt. Etna From My Front Door

My new Jen-Ken fiber kiln sits against concrete block and plugs into the highest rated surge suppressor I could find.  I had to leave my big kiln back in the states and can't seem to find a good place for my torch.  I was able to fit 3 storage racks in the weird space under the stairs, I just have to be careful not hit my head.

kiln fused glass workshop italy closet harry potter stairs bullseye flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
My Jen-Ken Bonnie Glo Kiln and Glass Storage

I'm using a vintage metal desk for a worktable.  Some of my favorite pieces hang around me and there's even room for more.  A huge plus of a teeny tiny workshop is everything is well within reach. 

desk fused glass workshop italy closet harry potter stairs bullseye flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
My Work Desk

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fused Glass UGC Enamel Paint Trees

More experimentation painting with UGC glass enamels on sgraffito sketches.  I tried to create different effects with varying methods on a series of tree tiles.  Here is the day 26 tree from last months' sgraffito challenge painted with the techniques I liked the most.  This tree was pre-fired and then filled in UGC enamels, painting the trunk in a mixture of browns.  The fence and grass were thinned out and the foilage is a mix of Bullseye frit and UGC paint.

UGC unique glass color sgraffito powder enamel tree bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
Finished UGC Painted Tree Powder Sketch

Here are the sample tree tiles.   I started by creating 6 - 2 inch by 3 inch glass pictures of various trees to include pine, birch, reflection, fat, skinny and pseudo willow.  These were done with Bullseye stiff black powder and then fired to 1400 deg F for 5 minutes.

UGC unique glass color sgraffito powder enamel tree sample bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
Powder Sketch Sgraffito Trees

Different fills were created using different techniques to see how this changed the firing outcome of the UGC enamels.  The UGC enamels were applied to the pre-fired trees in various ways to include working wet on some and allowing sections to dry on others.  The birch trees received powdered enamel foliage while the fat and willow trees were sprinkled with Bullseye frit.  I scraped off bits of the dried enamel on the skinny tree and the willow.

UGC unique glass color sgraffito powder enamel tree sample bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
UGC Painted Sample Trees Pre-Firing

Here are the trees after firing them to 1425 deg F for 10 minutes.  I like the gray-browns much more than the red-browns for the bark.  Also, I prefer the colors applied thinly for a watercolor feeling.

UGC unique glass color sgraffito powder enamel tree sample bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
UGC Painted Sample Trees After Firing

Test tiles are good, but now on to working in layers.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fused Glass UGC Enamel Paint Lighthouse

For my first UGC enamel painting, I chose to use my Day 3 glass powder sketch of Cape Zanpa, Okinawa.  I really like the translucent quality of the water, but I'm not sure about the clear frit added to the breaking waves.  I fired this piece to 1425 deg F for 10 minutes.

lighthouse ocean cliff UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
Finished UGC Painted Lighthouse Powder Sketch

Here is the original powder sketch that was fired to 1400 deg F for 5 minutes.  It retained so much texture that the UGC paint had little valleys to sit in. 

lighthouse ocean cliff UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
Day 3 Powder Sketch of a Lighthouse Landscape

This is the lighthouse before firing.  The paint was applied with a small paintbrush and kind of drawn out.  I like the spotty coverage on the water, but wish I had applied it thicker over the cliff.

lighthouse ocean cliff UGC unique glass color powder enamel bullseye glass fused frit painting art flutterbybutterfly flutterbyfoto
UGC Paints on Lighthouse Before Firing