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Copyright, All Rights Reserved. All content on this site is copyrighted, Dana Worley, as of the date of posting. Reuse or redistribution of this content is strictly prohibited without express written permission of the author.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Into the Hills I Go

Mahogany Canyon, North Logan, UT

In this time of crazy uncertainty, I am grateful that the foothills of Northern Utah are just outside my door. After a morning of "sheltering in place" while working from home, I took a walk up a dirt road beside our house. Most of the land on either side of the road is private property that is dry-farmed. If you walk about two miles up the road, you will eventually reach forest service land. The walk offers an easy escape into nature.

We are just beginning to hint at spring here. In the mornings I hear robins and meadow larks singing and spring bulbs are pushing their way through the soil. On my walk, I found more signs of spring, including the first small flowers emerging from patches of earth recently covered with snow.

I hope you have an opportunity to escape some of the craziness and enjoy what nature has to offer in your area. In the meantime, here are some quick cell phone shots I took along my walk.

"Into the forest I go, to lose myself and find my soul." 

Heading up the road into Mahogany Canyon. A beautiful blue-sky day!

A flicker in the tree. These guys are normally very shy, but I think it decided I was no threat. I was able to quietly pass without disturbing him (her?).

View "from the top",  looking over Cache Valley and toward the Wellsville mountain range.


These are the tiniest orchids I have ever seen (I think they are orchids -- white multi-bloom flower...).

The sound of spring!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Open-Faced Glass Casting

"Standing in the Shadow of Regret"
by Dana Worley, glass artist
Often as I am designing a piece of art glass, I'll take pictures of the process along the way. I recently finished the final mounting of a cast piece and I thought I would share photos of the work in progress.

This process is referred to as open-faced casting. Plaster is poured over a model (quite often clay). Once the plaster is set, the model is removed and glass is kiln-cast into the plaster form. What follows is not a step-by-step tutorial, but some pictures I took when making the model.

I created the model using Plasticine modelling clay (a craft clay that does not dry out), some grape vines and leaves from our yard, and a small branch I picked up one day when I was on a walk. 

I use a silicone pastry mat and rolling pin to roll out the clay (yes, kitchen tools come in handy in the studio!). This photo shows the branch sandwiched between two slabs of clay. Note that the clay is built up on the sides of the branch to avoid dramatic undercuts that might trap the glass when it is fired.

Grape vines and leaves were pressed into the clay.

The plants were removed and the branch was painted with a few coats of shellac before moving to the next step. (The shellac seals the wood, which makes removing the branch easier.)

I rolled out more clay, pressed leaves into it, and cut out the leaf shapes. 

These clay leaves were placed on top of the model. I used more clay to build up some of the leaves to add dimension and created clay coils for vines. 

Once the glass is fired, the raised leaves will be raised on the glass piece. The pressed in leaves and vines will create a nice, recessed surface texture. 

The next step was to build a square container around the model to hold the plaster when it was poured. I formed this out of float glass and sealed the seams with more clay (as seen in the previous photo if you look closely - this was before the box was "securely" duct taped). It's odd, but I didn't get photos of what came next -- pouring the plaster over the form, one side of the box starting to collapse (not enough duct tape!), and me trying to scoop plaster up and back over the model as plaster oozed out one side. Handy tip: plaster will eventually come out of carpet if you use a hammer to crumble it. 

Here's the mold after the plaster set and the clay and branch were removed. I used a Dremel to saw the wood in half, to make it easier to remove. Note that there were two small holes in opposing corners, which I was able to repair with more plaster.

Glass was cut to fit the mold. The first piece of glass in the mold was ming green irid, with irid facing the plaster.

Additional sheets of glass were placed in the mold and mold was loaded in the kiln. 

The unmolded glass after firing.

The cast glass was cleaned up to remove the remaining plaster and the bottom edge was cold-worked flat.

To finish it off, the glass was epoxied onto a granite base. I'm really pleased with the finished piece. I hope you've found this post informative and inspirational!



Want to learn more about kiln-casting? Bullseye Glass has some excellent resource material - What is Kiln-Casting

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Kiln-cast glass
Dana Worley, artist

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Rugged Solitude

lighthouse at Lybster Harbor
Lighthouse, Lybster Harbor
In the summer of 2017 and again in 2019, I was fortunate enough to spend time at North Lands Creative with 14 other glass artists. North Lands Creative is a glass studio in the small village of Lybster, on the east coast of Caithness in northern Scotland. At the feet of this quiet village lies the North Sea. On a clear day, you can look across the water and barely make out wind turbines and oil platforms on the horizon. These mirages in the distance hint at the stark contrast between Lybster's quiet harbor and the industrialization of what is recognized to be, at times, one of our most unforgiving natural environments.

While I was at a glass studio with glass artists, my time at North Lands was not about "making glass", but about trying to understand who I am as an artist. Our days were filled with creative exercises and  presentations; field trips to ancient cairns, churches, and castles; shared meals, shared tears, and shared dreams. Like the contrast of Lybster and its sea, it was a time of closeness, as well as a time of quiet inner reflection.

rocky beach of Lybster Harbor
Lybster Harbor
When I think about North Lands, I think about the warm welcome from people in the village, the amazing staff at the studio, my fellow artists, and the women who fed me crab rolls and tea for lunch at the Waterlines cafe (almost daily!). I think about the gravel shortcut to the harbor and the old wooden boat along that path, the view of the Caithness coast from a boat, and the steep steps down to Shelligoe beach. I think about my last day in Lybster, sitting on the rocky shore of the harbor, sketching while the tide slowly crept to my feet. I think about returning to the harbor that same evening before our closing dinner, for one last look at the sea.

I have just started down the path of learning what I want from my art and, as the cliche goes,"finding my artistic voice". I suppose it is something that you never really figure out, because if you do, what then? I think creativity is truly about the journey, not the destination.

After my last trip to Lybster, someone asked me what I liked about it so much. I thought for a moment and then answered, "The rugged solitude". While I don't know where my journey will lead me, I have a feeling I'll find my way back again to that quiet harbor on the sea.

Until then, Dana

"Selfie" outside the North Lands Studio

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hacker's Guide to Art Glass Photography

Coneflower art glass vase (Dana Worley)
Coneflower art glass vase (Dana Worley)
As an artist, it's important that you have nice photographs of your art. You may need photographs for your web site, for jury submission, or for promoting your art on social media. Even if you are a hobbyist just starting out, photos are great for looking back to track progress.

I often hear glass artists say that they don't have good photos of their art because they don't have the right camera, don't have a photo booth setup, or simply don't have the time. Well, we're glass artists, right? We're creatives! We're spending our time and hard-earned money on supplies, equipment, and creating! That doesn't mean, however, that we can't get a little creative when it comes to photographing our work.

A few years ago I purchased a popup photo booth to use with my digital SLR camera. I bought two standing lamps so I would have adequate light. Unfortunately, the booth takes time to set up, and I still haven't made the time to learn how to use a digital SLR in something other than auto mode. Photographing my art was a chore and I was not getting photographs of most of my creations.

It occurred to me that I was over-thinking things. I didn't need a photo booth and high-end camera. The critical things I needed were a clean background, good lighting, and a camera -- any camera (I've heard it said that the best camera is the one you have with you). Following is a quick and inexpensive Hacker's setup for art glass photography.

  • Camera: I've found that cell phone cameras do a good job of adjusting for white balance, and most phones these days come with software that will let you make quick adjustments to lighting and contrast (many have preset filters you can choose from). Also, the resolution of cell phone cameras is more than adequate for most of our uses. 
  • Lighting: When it comes to lighting, it's helpful if all of your lighting has the same color temperature. Color temperature!? The short version of that is if you want to photograph in sunlight, use only sunlight. Same goes for LED or other bulbs. If you want to use a 5K LED, use only 5K LEDs. Try not to mix light sources and you'll have better outcomes.
  • Background: A piece of foam core board and a white or grey drape provide a nice platform with a background that will make sure your art is the center of attention. For the drape in the photos below, I've used one of the backgrounds that came with my photo booth, but any white or grey cloth -- or even a roll of white paper -- will work (just be careful of shiny or textured surfaces, which will cause reflection or odd patterns to show up in the photos). 

So here's the Hacker's setup I use in my studio:

I now have no excuse for not taking photographs of my work. I hope you'll be able to use this information or come up with your own hack so you are getting great photos of your work!

Happy fusing, Dana

More Resources

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Art Abandonment - September 2019

Abandoned art Fused Glass Dish
Abandoned art
Fused Glass Dish
This weekend as we were preparing to go for a hike, I decided to take a piece of my glass art along with me and "abandon" it somewhere along the way. So yesterday, I placed my first official piece of abandoned art - a small approximately 5" crackle-glass dish with a spiral sun pattern on it. 

What is abandoned art? It's where an artist leaves behind a piece of their art for someone to find unexpectedly. It's a cousin to the Random Act of Kindness. From what I read, abandoned art isn't a new thing, but it has regained popularity the last few years. Michael deMeng is credited with popularizing the current trend. There is a Facebook group where both artists and recipients can post their abandoned/found art.

Trail sign with an arrow on it
Pointing the way to abandoned art!

So somewhere in the middle of Green Canyon and Logan Canyon, between a rock and a hard place, you'll find a fused glass dish. It's hiding in plain sight, so to speak, but it does take a little hike to get there. But don't worry, the sign points the way!

It was fun trying to find the perfect place, and knowing that when it is found, it has the potential of putting a smile on someone's face. It will be interesting to see if I ever learn where my abandoned art found a new home. Hopefully, it will find its way into the hands of someone who loves art - and glass - as much as I do!

With wild abandon!
Spiral sun glass dish - front
Spiral sun glass dish - front

Spiral sun glass dish - back
Spiral sun glass dish - back

More about art abandonment from Craft Warehouse:

Somewhere in the middle of Green Canyon and Logan Canyon
Logan, UT