HOW DOES SHE MAKE THOSE? Current Work / Seafans / Glass Shoes
Wall pieces in the form of "boats" or rectangles are my current work. I create small, pre-made pieces of glass threads, crushed glass, textured glass, glass enamel images, whatever I can dream up, in a wide range of colors. Selected pre-made pieces are set on a kiln shelf, in layers, and fused together at 1500 degrees. The fused pieces are then slumped into molds I fabricate out of soft brick and kiln insulation material. Multiple firings are usually necessary to find the shape I want, each taking two or more days.
My Seafans begin as handspun rondels, or plates, 24" - 28" in diameter. I cut a sort of floral shape out of the rondel, with a sandblaster, by taping both sides and cutting halfway through on one side and halfway through on the other. Then I carve one entire surface into undulating swirls. If the glass heats up too much (from the sandblaster) it will crack, so I go very slowly. Laying out the design and sandblasting take about twenty hours.
I slump each piece five, six, or seven times. The initial slumping is into a bowl-shaped mold made from a wok. Woks make great molds, especially if you don't want a flat bottom. I cut off the handles, sandblast the metal inside and out and apply kiln wash to the inside. I make my own kilnwash out of 70 silica flour/30 kaolin and apply it as a very thick paste. I air dry it overnight and then oven dry it to 1000 degrees. The kiln wash will last through many firings, even though the woks are made of mild steel.
I choose a wok that is about two inches smaller than the diameter of the glass and slump it at a temperature at which the glass just starts to move, avoiding mold marks If I am fortunate, the glass will ruffle at the edge as it goes in. For the next firing, I turn the "bowl" up-side-down and balance it on a stack of softbrick. The bowl deconstructs into something more interesting. The glass is right-side-up again for the third firing, to "open up" the shape. I often close and open it again, to achieve a lively result. Each firing takes two days.
My glass slippers are created by first making a three part plaster mold from a real shoe. I pour a wax model and sometimes embellish the original shape with a wax bow or wax roses. The wax shoe is embedded in a plaster/silica mold for glass casting, using the "honeycomb" method I learned from Helen Stokes. First apply a thin base coat of plaster/silica slurry, then a layer of squares of loosely woven fiberglass, each square dipped in the slurry and added separately. Cavities in the mold are loosely filled with larger squares of fiberglass, each dipped in the slurry and twisted so that air is trapped in the mold, creating the "honeycomb." Add another layer of plaster/silica slurry and the mold is done. The wax is steamed out and the mold goes into the kiln, drying to 1000 degrees in over 24 hours. I cast with lead crystal, which is ruined if it contacts any wax. Glass billets are preheated and added to the hot, clean mold. The glass shoes are cast at 1500 degrees and annealed for six days.