Modeling Glass Tips and Tricks
Every month I'll be writing about how to use Modeling Glass in your work, and hopefully answering some questions that will help you get the results you want. There's always a learning curve with a new product, and there are considerations working with frit and powder that you don't have when firing sheet glass. There is a full set of FAQs on the Modeling Glass website at . You can also find back issues of all my e-newsletters there!
All things considered, it didn't seem appropriate to just produce another "business as usual" newsletter. In isolation I crave connection, so instead of my usual tips and tricks, I'm going to share some thoughts about being a maker during this crisis, and tell you a little bit about my own journey in glass.

A month ago, I never imagined I'd be sitting at home today, pondering life mid-pandemic. New Mexico is under a "stay-at-home" directive, which I fully support, while I worry about what the future holds. Like many other artists, I have watched as this health crisis has ground our economy to a halt. Workshops and other events have been postponed or cancelled outright. Many glass artists fall into the higher risk category as older adults, and are justifiably worried. The headline of this article refers to the fact that we artists may be particularly well-suited to the restrictive nature of pandemic reality: staying at home, socially distancing ourselves, and experiencing what it's like when we are forced to hit the social reset button. We have some spare time, openings in our overbooked schedules, and opportunities to distract ourselves by diving into making art. In this way, we are fortunate to have a pursuit that absorbs us completely.

The "curse" part comes in the fact that glass artists work in a very expensive material, and many of us rely on teaching, selling at galleries, shows and festivals, and otherwise being out in the world to make a living. Not to mention the art collectors who are watching their disposable income disappear as investments are hammered by the economic shutdown. What's an artist to do? Image: "Sinkhole Ascending," one of the first glass pieces I ever made. 9" x 12"
An artist friend had a solo show on the east coast early in March; at great personal expense he drove dozens of paintings cross-country to the gallery and busted his ass to install everything, only to have the opening night event cancelled. It is in question about how many people will even get to see Daniel Kathalynas ' excellent exhibit. This is just one example of the heartbreaking ways artists are being impacted by coronavirus, and I'm afraid it will reverberate through the art industry for a long time.

Flashback to the pre-virus happy days of 2012. I was working in Santa Fe as studio assistant to the talented multi-media artist Rebecca Tobey . She had decided to try her hand at fused glass, and invited me to attend a workshop with her at Bullseye Glass in Santa Fe. I'd worked in many media myself, including pastel, acrylic, scratchboard, and watercolor, but glass fusing was unknown to me. Since the studio would be adding glass to the product line, it made sense for me to have at least a working understanding of this art form. Little did I know that this workshop would change the trajectory of my life.

The class was about learning to make imagery with powder and frit. As soon as I began to push that powdered glass around on a sheet of clear, something clicked in my head. It was like I recognized a deep affinity for this material that I had never handled before. Perhaps it had something to do with my complete lack of expectation going into the class; I had no idea what was going to happen, whether I would like it, or how glass even worked. It allowed me to be very free and fearless. The instructor and staff made me feel like there were no stupid questions, so I proceeded to ask many. The science nerd in me enjoyed learning about the science and technique of firing, and how fusing is a negotiation between what I want the glass to do and what the glass actually WILL do.

Most of you reading this will probably be able to relate to what happened next: I was completely hooked. The week after the workshop I went back to Bullseye and bought a Paragon kiln with a package of startup equipment, supplies, and glass. I had no business getting involved with a medium that used the most expensive, persnickety raw materials I'd ever worked with, but that didn't even register in my mind. All I knew was that I never needed to work with anything else as long as I could do glass.

Flash forward to 2020, and I still feel the same excitement every time I pop the lid on my kiln after it cools. My mouth still waters when I walk into the Bullseye Santa Fe Resource Center and feast my eyes on the luscious racks of sheet glass in a range of colors that seems to exceed the rainbow. Unimaginably, I even developed a product and started my own modest business. I've been invited to teach all over the country and in Canada and the UK. I am planning a trip to Australia in 2021. None of this would have happened had I not attended that first workshop back in 2012, so I am eternally grateful to Rebecca Tobey.

I don't know what the rest of the year holds; promises abound that our economy will bounce back quickly and with vigor. Perhaps that will happen, but I imagine there will be a lag between a stabilized economy and the point where collectors feel comfortable buying art again. I hope it's a very short lag, for the sake of everyone involved in this wonderful industry. One thing I do know: I cannot stop making. It is a source of comfort and sanity for me; I get positively cranky and neurotic if I'm not able to be creative. That's the curse of being a maker...we don't just enjoy it, we need it to be happy.
In closing, I want to acknowledge that we're in this together. I understand how damn disappointing it is for this to happen right before the workshop season, the summer art fair season, the high gallery season. It's damn terrible that the whole world is reeling from this thing, people are actually dying, and we don't know how long it will really be before we can call things "normal" again. But if there is anyone resourceful enough to stay sane and figure a way through, it's us--the makers, the ones who dream and strive and imagine the world as we want it to be, instead of dwelling so much on how it is. The pandemic is temporary; art is forever.

I hope you, your friends and family are healthy and remain so until this situation is resolved. Everyone I know is fine as of this moment. Wash your hands, try to enjoy some solitude in your studio, and don't watch too much news.

This mask draping form was designed from my original prototype and produced by the great folks at Creative Paradise for my AAE video project. Order yours from AAE Glass HERE.

D&L Art Glass now also carries this new mold. You can order it from them HERE .

This life-size mold makes a Mardi Gras-style half-mask, and measures 8.5"w x 10"h x 2.25"d
2020 Workshops
Look who's in the new Bullseye Glass catalog #13? Modeling Glass and one of my Fabulous Flicker feathers. Excited to be included this year! Thanks, Bullseye!
This year's workshops will feature a different feather than 2019, but that's not all you'll learn! We do several projects that help you stretch your imagination and get a grasp of the many ways you can incorporate Modeling Glass into your artwork. Here is a list of where I'll be teaching and when:

August 21-23 Ottawa, Canada at Glass eMotions

August 13-16 Madison Wisconsin at The Vinery Glass Experience

September 16-18 Denver, CO at D&L Art Glass

October 15-17 Frederick, MD at Anything in Stained Glass

October 23-25 Phoenix, AZ at Milkweed Arts
Modeling Glass
This new product was developed by Lois Manno of Glass Bird Studios. It is a two-part system made of a powdered binder and liquid medium that, mixed with frit or powders along with a little water, turns the powder into a material that can be sculpted like clay. It is featured in the workshops she teaches.
Want to purchase Modeling Glass? A list of retailers is available on the website. The list keeps growing, so check back. Ask your glass retailer to add Modeling Glass to their stock if they don't have it!
Dear glass artist: you're receiving this message because you have expressed interest in Modeling Glass or Glass Bird Studios. If you would like to continue receiving occasional emails about Modeling glass, workshops, and user tips, there is no action for you to take. If you wish to unsubscribe from the list, you can do so at the bottom of this message. Thanks for your interest in Modeling Glass!
Glass Bird Studios | Website Modeling Glass | Website