ELIZABETH RYLAND MEARS

 

DESCRIPTION OF MY CREATIVE PROCESS

Sometimes when I begin to work on a piece, I have a very strong visual image or sketch to work from. Sometimes I have a vague idea of what it is I want to make, so I make component parts and begin to combine them. Sometimes I work very intuitively making a part of a piece, waiting and studying it then making more and repeating the process until the piece is completed. At some point in the construction, however, no matter how I begin, the piece takes over and dictates to me what it needs.

In my work I utilize several different techniques. Not every technique is used in every piece, but most contain several. I begin with glass forms that I have made from sculpting or blowing solid rods or tubes of glass in different diameters using the flame of a bench torch. The torch is fueled with propane and oxygen. I vary the size of the flame constantly from a very fine, soft flame to a very large, bushy one that is extremely hot. The type of work I am doing determines the kind of flame that I need. I always begin with clear glass, but sometimes I combine colored glass with the clear in either internal compositions or surface decoration. Some of the smaller creations are made quickly with very little kiln work involved and are put in the annealer only once or twice before they are completed.

My favorite pieces to work on, however, are those that take many steps to make and combine many techniques. Very large pieces are made in sections which go in and out of the holding kiln many times. The sections are annealed separately then carefully put together and annealed a final time. Often after a piece is made, I will mask off parts of it and sandblast the rest. This creates a soft matt surface which is a wonderful contrast to the hard shiny surface of the flameworked glass. The sandblasted surface can be left as it is, or it can be painted. The painting is done with enamels and/or lusters. The paints are applied, allowed to dry, then fired in the kiln. The painting requires at least two firings but, more often than not, many more times than that. Sometimes a large piece will have been fired or annealed a dozen times or more.

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