Intimately breaking

Breaking glass is fun.  There is no denying it.  In fact it can be quite addicting, I did breaking experiments earlier in the week and recorded the process.  It was... exciting, dangerous, nerve wracking, and only with the barest hint of trauma.<---  This is what I'm after for the viewer, while trying to make them be very deliberate about what they are doing.  Can they shake off their societal programming and complete the piece?  I already want to try and make this piece again, away from an academic setting and see how more "normal" people deal with it.

So this helped to prove a few things... that I'm moving in the right direction for the overall wall thickness of the vessels.  The teardrop shape in the last video will be the hardest to break due to it's egg like structure.  An egg is really good at distributing any force that could potentially break it.  Aiming for the lip of the piece is an, almost, guaranteed break.  That it is addicting, after breaking about 6 pieces that morning I was looking around to see if I had any left to smash, so some type of limit will need to be in place.  That everything is heightened, from the fight or flight response, when your that close to flying glass.

It has been suggested to throw the objects into a corner or a box.  Meh.  To me by making it so you have to pick up the piece, place it inside, and then break it makes the entire situation more intimate.  There seems to be some kind of detachment going on throwing the piece away from yourself, your still safe, and far away from anything "bad" that might happen... that is something I don't want for this piece.

Now, a few things have come up...

Is there anyway to prolong the breaking?  No, not in this project, 10 seconds is an average time to line up the shot and take it... that is not saying it can't be done and I am looking into the opposite of this piece... larger, thicker vessels that would be very difficult to break at all.  Other ways of breaking are being entertained as well, but so far nothing seems to be as satisfying as straight up smashing.

Do I have to be so responsible?  Yes.  There is no way around this one, watch this video...

There is no way I can willingly let this be in a public setting and not take the safety precautions I think I need to take.  It's not going to happen... I don't want the institution (CCAD) to get into trouble for allowing one of their artists to make a dangerous piece and not take the steps necessary to make it as safe as possible.  I am used to pieces of glass popping off and hitting me in the arms, neck, face, legs, etc., and other glass blowers are used to it... the general public is not.

Well... maybe I can loosen up a bit.  Looking over the design of the breaking box, I think I can strip away a lot of the over the top safe guards and have something that is still works while making the situation as exciting(dangerous) as possible.  The possibility of waivers is something I'm seriously considering.  Right now, this project is in the same editing phase as my project from the first semester... stripping away everything else to get to the essence.

I have been considering what is the most important thing for this particular project.  Things that cannot change are picking the piece, taking it to it's destination, and breaking it... but even then, the most important thing is to break it.  The glass has to be handmade, not just off the clearance rack at Pier 1 or World Market.  Why?  The aspect of these objects being handmade helps to drive home this aspect of preciousness associated with them.  There is the notion that handmade glass is a precious material.  It's a collected medium, it's used for awards, it's something that is passed down in the family as an heirloom.  All of these are very precious attachments that only really came about from machines taking over the more mundane aspects of glass blowing (i.e. making bottles) allowing glass blowing studios to concentrate on other things.  So messing with that is important to me, and I think once this is in the gallery some people will have a very hard time doing what is asked of them.  Once the viewer becomes part of the display, and is put on display... some will revel in that and others will shy away from it.

The result of the breaking was no less beautiful than the vessels before the breaking began.  On a nice table with some good light, I think these remnants of vessels will look particularly good.  With how things are shaping up now, I'm thinking pedestals are a must.  To really cement these fragments as an art work, their presentation is very important.

Considering the activity, and that this is all that happened with open air breaking, it was a good day.

It's not just me

No, it's not just me who likes breaking things... 

A small showing

So here are a few pictures of glass installed in the lobby of the Crane Center.  I was asked, along with two other artists... Dion Utt and Lilandra Holmes, if we could show work for Startup Weekend that was being held in the top floor of Crane last weekend.

Now I did have a slight problem, I forget to get business cards and my resumé out with my work. Bad self promotion on my part.  However, I did remember a great thing from last year that seemed to be a perfect solution... QR codes.

The QR codes are linked to my blog to show process, and to my website for portfolios, resumé, and contact information.  Since Startup Weekend was primarily a tech development venue... teams would work on developing the ideas they had voted for on the previous day, after that they had a chance to pitch the ideas to investors... just about everyone there had a smart phone and a lap top.  This made the entire presentation super sleek, very clean, and paperless.

Thank you Charlotte!


My outside experience (Part 2)

So after working with Aimee at the Springfield Museum of Art, the next phase of the OE was to begin.  This was volunteering at Glass Axis, which can be found here, to install a new glass furnace and to do some extensive shop maintenance for the annual shut down that begins and lasts through the month of August.  Most of this was very technically based, lots of time cutting metal, moving gas lines, etc... this usually resulted with me showing up at Glass Axis Wednesday through Friday for 8 hour days assisting Trevor.  So I'm going to list what we did over the shut down and expand as needed...

1. Install the new Wet Dog furnace on the right side under the exhaust hood, move the left furnace to the left by 3 inches and adjust the heat shields to accomodate for the move.  Move the old furnace, goodbye old friend, out to the loading dock to await it's fate.  

Here was a perfect example of making sure you have the right tools for the job.  To move the furnaces we had to end up using 2 palette jacks rated for 3,000 pounds.  Normally you would have to use one, but in Columbus NO ONE rents a 3k pound palette jack that doesn't have busted hydraulic seals.

To do any of this we had to take apart, re-plumb, and reseal the gas lines for the furnace and one glory hole so we would have enough light to see back behind the furnace.  While the gas was shut off we also installed reduction valves on all 4 glory holes, this way if renters at Glass Axis wanted to do some fancy reduction techniques to their glass then all they would have to do is throw a lever open to reduce and then close it when they were finished.  

When you reduce the flame in the glory hole what you are doing is increasing the gas and dropping the oxygen within the chamber, certain glass colors will then get a metallic sheen to them when exposed to this type of flame.  By putting the reduction valves on the glory holes the plan was to make it as simple as possible for a renter to use and then reset a reduction flame.  Before this lots of money, in the form of a gas bill, was being wasted from people using a reduction flame but not putting the settings back so a higher gas flame was always being used.

Cut holes in the heat shields to accommodate the new reduction valves at each glory hole.

2. Install new exhaust ports in the exhaust hood above the flues for both furnaces.  Since The foot print for the new furnace did not match the old one some adjustment was need to make sure that the furnace could vent properly. The other exhaust port for the old furnace that was still there, had to be adjusted since we moved it 3 inches to the left, a minor move but still a hassle.  You have to keep in mind that while this was going on the furnaces were shut off, however because they designed to hold heat really well they were still giving off an uncomfortable amount of heat for the first few weeks.

3. Reline the bottom of 3, out of 4, glory holes.  Over time, especially at a public studio, glass will get inside the glory hole.  If allowed to build up it becomes a pain for the renter at the facility.  The more glass there is, the longer the hole takes to heat up, the more fuel it uses, and it can lose it's heat faster when the doors are opened for any length of time.  To help combat this a glass studio can install a diaper.  A diaper is a layer of fiberfrax covered with a layer of refractory, mixed with some water, that covers the bottom of the glory hole.  If you have a build up of glass over time, you simply pull the old diaper out and install a new one.  Doing this makes the heat more efficient, and saves you from having to rebuild the hole over time... getting longevity out of your materials.

4. Cutting metal, angle iron and flat stock at 2 inch widths; and 1/4 inch thickness, for new doors on one glory hole and back up doors for all the glory holes in the studio.  By far my least favorite part of the entire experience, there were a few days that all the work consisted of was cutting and grinding metal to be welded later.  It was also a challenge to get all the measurements needed from a finite supply of metal.  At CCAD we have a huge selection of metal to use, a non-profit glass studio?  Not so much.  Every cut had to be measured carefully to get the most out of it, while not having to reorder more because the intern(me) screwed up the cuts.

Once the door frames were cut, they were cast with refractory.  A high temperature resistant form of plaster.  Plaster is not the right analogy but it's the closest I can think of at the moment, as the two are mixed almost the same way.  Once the doors were recast, they set overnight and the next day they were cured in a kiln at 1000 degrees.  Now if a door needs to be replaced, all anyone has to do is just swap out the old one with one of the back ups.

And closing with...

Considering it was a summer filled with long drives, power tools, welding equipment, rust resistant paint fumes, and a whole plethora of ways to hurt yourself... that was as bad as it got.  4 stitches from being careless while drilling metal, and like most accidents it happened in a split second and was a result of user error.