Custom Fused Glass for a Friend

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Weird teenage years!

The day I publicly announced this site I received the most flattering email I could imagine: a request for something custom. I met my dear friend Mark when I was the new kid in Ms. Hefflefinger’s (real name) 7th grade English class. While I don’t totally remember what brought us together I’m very thankful. Over the years we enjoyed middle school lunches, pool parties at his house, and sleep overs. In 11th grade Mark starred in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” and I played clarinet in the pit orchestra. The night before high school graduation it was only fitting that we had a party, celebrating leaving McKinley the same way we came in: together.

After graduation we were flung from Honolulu to the opposite coasts; he headed for Rutgers in New Jersey and I came to the Bay Area. Since then we’ve kept up with one another online and it makes me so happy to see my sweet friend doing well and enjoying life. He recently moved across the country to Seattle and we just missed each other when I was there and he was back East getting married. To hear from him when I started this new creative venture was very touching and I was happy to make him something special.

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Stringer and sunflower glass

Mark asked for a plate around 12″ x 12″ with vibrant colors. He and his wife were decorating their new home in warm colors to ward off the Seattle gloom. When making things for myself I work only in cool colors, my home is mostly deep purples, greens and blues. Now that I’m taking request and making pieces to sell it’s been exciting to branch out and try new combinations.

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Sketching out the plate

When I went supply shopping I found this vibrant sunflower glass and thought it paired really well with the iridescent. I also picked up some bright stringers (thin rods of colorful glass) to use in the design. When I do fusing projects I like to “sketch” them out at home to get an idea of what I’ll do when I get to the studio. I cut cardstock in the shapes and size of the molds so I can start laying out the glass and see what I can do. This is especially helpful when I’m trying to use pieces of glass I’ve already cut. For Mark’s plate I planned on doing a 12.25″ x 12.25″ square.

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The pieces assembled and ready to be fired!

As luck would have it, when I actually got into the studio there were no 12.25’s available, they’d all been sold. Instead I went with 11.625″ x 9.625″ and drew it out on butcher paper on my table. Mark said he was drawn to asymmetry so I went with that, coming up with this design.

With a background in mosaic I’m used to being a little imprecise and knowing the grout will fill in the spaces. For this reason the exact measurements of fusing can be exhausting. Knowing I could be asymmetrical meant I measured the yellow triangle exactly for the corners to hit where I wanted, and then eyeballed how wide I wanted the iridescent band, and the clear piece was just a matter of filling space, no measurement required.

Now I got to decorating! I wanted the stringers to look as though they were radiating, but not in a perfectly balanced or parallel way. I snapped them by hand at varying lengths and stuck them in either corner. Lastly I sprinkled frit (crushed glass that varies in texture from sand to small pebbles) in bright blue, gold, and a reactive purple. Now the flat glass would go through a fuse firing to make all these pieces into one sheet, then a slump firing to shape it into the mold.

I am so very proud of this piece and honored by what it means to be asked for something special. I know the great compliment Mark has paid me by wanting my art in his home and I’m so happy with how it turned out. It was a really fun piece to make and I hope that it captures just what he hoped. Thank you Mark!

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Interested in something similar or custom? I will be back in the glass studio on September 5th.  Please email Laili@LailiBug.com.
See other glass work here

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