Thursday, September 27, 2018

Christmas Kokeshi and Santa Ornaments in Fused Glass

Is it ever too early to start thinking about Christmas? How about some Christmas Kokeshi and a matching Santa!

Kokeshi Santa Christmas Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Bullseye Finished
My finished Santa and Kokeshi.

After creating the pattern for the Santa, I realized I needed to make tiny glass dots for Santa noses, belt buckles and pom-poms.  To create these components, I cut glass squares in the appropriate colors and then heated them in my kiln to 1500 degF.  Glass squares melt into perfect balls, just like magic.

Frit Balls Dots Kokeshi Santa Christmas Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Bullseye
Glass squares, cut and ready to become dots.

When designing this Santa, I wanted him to match the style of my Kokeshi but also remind me of the characters from the It's a Small World ride at Disney. I love their round, happy faces! After transferring my patterns, I hand cut and shaped Bullseye sheet glass into the parts I needed. Everything gets a good washing and then it's time for assembly.

Kokeshi Santa Christmas Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Bullseye
Glass parts ready for Kokeshi and Santa.

Every ornament gets layered by hand.  Each piece of glass gets secured with a tiny drop of Elmer's glue.  The glue burns off before the glass starts to melt, but it helps keep everything together so I can carry things to the kiln.

Each Kokeshi and Santa gets a pair of tiny glass eyes and crushed glass in medium and fine granulations to create fur trim on their cute little holiday outfits.

Frit Kokeshi Santa Christmas Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Bullseye
Adding fur trim to fused glass Christmas ornaments.

I have decided that it's never too early to start getting ready for the holidays.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Making Glass Kokeshi in Okinawa

Kokeshi are handmade wooden dolls originating in Northern Japan. My kokeshi are handmade out of glass at my tiny workshop in Okinawa Japan. I drew my original pattern in 2010 when we lived in Okinawa for the first time. Moving back has given me the opportunity to create these little cuties again.

Kokeshi Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Bullseye Finished
My finished kokeshi.
Kokeshi Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Bullseye Blue
A kokeshi with a cherry blossom on her skirt.

Creating each kokeshi begins by transferring my pattern to sheet glass. I use hand rolled glass made by Bullseye in Portland, Oregon. Each piece is hand cut and then shaped with a glass grinder.

Kokeshi Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Bullseye Sheet
Bullseye sheet glass ready to be scored.

I carefully layer the cut glass and include a hook so she can easily be hung later on.  Tiny glass eyes and a petite mouth are added to her traditionally round face. The cherry blossom on her skirt is adorned with bits of crushed glass in assorted colors.

Kokeshi Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto Layer
Layers of glass stacked carefully and decorated.

Each stacked glass kokeshi is transferred to my kiln where it is heated so the glass layers will bond together. These girls were fused to 1400 degF so the finished ornament will have nice rounded edges and lots of depth and texture.

Kokeshi Japanese Asian Ornament Handmade Glass Fused Sharon Warren FluterbyButterfly FlutterbyFoto JenKen Kiln Fire
Glass kokeshi heating to 1400 degF in my kiln.

Opening the kiln after it cools is like opening presents on Christmas morning! Seeing each little kokeshi complete just makes me smile.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Fused Glass Workshop in Okinawa Japan

The US Navy has moved us from Sicily, Italy to Okinawa, Japan this past summer.  Recent moves have seen my glass workshop downsized from an expansive 2-car garage to a much smaller laundry room closet to now - a desk in the mudroom.  At least all my glass arrived unbroken.

kiln fused glass workshop japan okinawa flutterbyfoto bullseye flutterbybutterfly
My Workspace

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Anatomical Heart in Glass Tile Smalti Mosaic

This heart mosaic is a birthday present for our daughter.  It began as a wish for her to follow her heart.  As it progressed, I realized that you can't give a gift with such a huge caveat.  Instead, this mosaic heart is simply given with our love.  Happy 16th birthday Cece!

anatomical heart art glass Sharon Warren finished smalti mosaic orsoni italian
Finished Italian smalti mosaic of an anatomical heart

When I began work on this mosaic I started by reading through the heart section of my husband's anatomy books.  I'm a pretty literal person and wanted to make sure that the heart was mostly anatomically correct and my color choices didn't stray too far from how the heart works.  I spent quite a bit of time thinking and planning the project, finally painting it in watercolors to get comfortable with the shading and color gradients.

anatomical heart watercolor artist Sharon Warren smalti mosaic orsoni italian anatomy
The watercolor inspired by my reading

This was my first time working with Wedi board as a substrate.  Wedi board has a foam core and is much lighter than the wood.  It was a little difficult to sketch on but very easy to apply thinset to.  It was amazing to work with all of the colors of Orsoni Italian smalti and larger rotti.  I tried to really pay attention to the flow and size of each of the pieces, changing up the shape when it came to the background.

anatomical heart art glass Sharon Warren artist progress smalti mosaic orsoni italian
My progress on the anatomical heart mosaic

It's finished and I hope she loves it and I hope she knows how much we love her.  Happy Birthday Cece!

anatomical heart art glass Sharon Warren artist happy 16 Cece Cecelia Warren
Happy Birthday Cece!

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.

orsoni smalti glass tile venice mosaic italian italy
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