I’ve figured out how to ship small fused glass art from Costa Rica to the US and Canada. So I’ve taken the plunge and opened an online shop on ETSY – Gecko Glass Art – to sell my handmade jewelry and small items. Take a look and tell me what you think of my presentation.
For now, the shop will focus on ornaments and a variety of jewelry including bead embroidery cuffs, wire wrapped necklaces, and dichroic glass pendants, all hand made by me. I’ll be adding new pieces all the time. Watch for Christmas and holiday items to show up in the next few months. If you’re interested in something larger that you’ve seen on my website, email me and we can start a conversation.
If you’re here in Samara, you can avoid shipping charges by calling me or by visiting Samara Organics Mercado, where my fused glass work is displayed for sale.
I’ve been working on a new series of chipbowls and salsa dishes, using window glass which is (usually, almost) free around here, left over at construction sites – Thank-you, Kristina.
People have been curious about the process so here is what I do. I like the philosophy of recycling glass but the material is not as forgiving as System 96 glass which is made specifically for fusing. The learning curve has been steep.
After cutting the ¼” thick glass to the size I want, I mix up a paste of glass frit powder with an organic fusible gel.
The paste is spread across the glass and left to air dry in the sun.
Then, with a soft pencil, I draw a design on the dry glass powder.
The design is carved away with a drummel tool.
The negative spaces are then refilled with a different color of glass powder.
When the design is complete, the piece is fired at full fuse (1535F for float glass).
Before molding the piece in a second or third kiln firing, the edges are hand sanded with 80 and 220 grit.
All in all, it takes me nearly a week to finish a piece.
I’ve also been using fusible System 96 glass as well, which is more expensive but produces more consistent results.
Gecko Glass just received a shipment of fusible sheet glass, System 96. Lots of great colors. Drop by the studio for a class. New colors to express yourself.
When I make mistakes in fused glass pieces, I break them up and re-fire them into “puddles”.
Lately, I’ve been wire-wrapping them as earrings and pendants.
My friend, Connie – she is great with beads and beading – helped me enhance these pendants with beaded ropes for necklaces.
So, you’ve been wondering what I do with all the wine and beer bottles
that you’ve been saving for me.
Here is my first run of bottle Boxes; good for trinkets, earrings, salt, votives,
or Grampa’s ashes.
Each box is made from two bottles, the lid is decorated and fired to fit over the cut bottle.
These Jam Jars will be for sale at Samara Organics.
Gecko Glass has gone live with a new website at http://geckoglassart.com. Check it out for new work, classes info, and portfolio. You can still follow my blog for news and events by clicking in the right hand column here.
I’ve just put some new pieces into Samara Organics.
Lots of jewelry too.
These students made votive holders and night lights. Nice work, ladies!
Verano class schedule: Monday, Thursday, or Saturday mornings, 10am or 1:30 pm. Call for reservation. $35.00. ask for resident’s discount.
By now, everyone on the planet has seen the ubiquitous slumped bottle/cheese plate.
I’ve added a Costa Rican tropical bird to each one, most of which I’ve seen here in Samara. (more…)
After yesterday’s kiln repairs, these lichor bottles look just as I expected: bright, transparent, without spots and no cracking. Now I’ll paint them with tropical birds that I see around my house.
These are the ones I fired last week when the kiln wasn’t working properly: lots of devitrification (chalkiness), bubbles, exploded bubbles, and generally ugly. I am so pleased to have figured out the problem.
Send me your empty, your poured.
Occam’s Razor, is a problem solving principle surmised by a 14th century Franciscan monk as “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” Or as Steve says it, “The simplest solution is almost always right”.
I have refined this in the glass studio to “When you don’t get the results you expect, do a paper test.” which really means “See if the kiln is working.”
A little slip of paper tucked into the coils of each element will scorch and burn if the elements are getting hot. Currently, the side wall elements are not heating up. I’ve been cooking everything with only one lid element – for how long, I don’t know – creating huge temperature differentials within the glass and causing stress and cracking.
I’m pretty hopeful that repairs today will solve many of my recent issues and frustrations. Jodi at Glass With a Past had lots of great suggestions but I’m going with Occam’s Razor for now. Wish me luck.
Since my Seattle workshop in June, I have been working every day in the studio and loving it. What have I been doing?
I’ve been “painting” pictures with powdered and crushed glass (frit). I’m enjoying the process immensely, but I’m less than satisfied with the results.
Is it technique or technical? I don’t know and I’ve asked for professional advice.
It would be easy if I would stick to using the tested compatible COE96 art glass – I can knock those babies out – but I am really committed to using recycled “float” and bottle glass.
And it just isn’t going well. I am really proud of this “save”. But why do my pieces spontaneously crack down the middle? Like I said, I’ve asked for professional advice.
A new series – The Birds of Costa Rica. (We have seen all of these from my house.)
I “paint” with powdered glass and frit onto float glass.
Some I put on bottle glass. Here is a Bombay Gin bottle, repurposed.
You can buy these birds in their wooden display stands at Samara Organics, in Playa Samara – c15,000 ($30.00)
With the new skills I learned recently from Michael Dupille, I am reinterpreting the local Chorotega pottery, made by the people indigenous to this part of Costa Rica.
The families are still working at Guaitil and San Vicente to create traditional designs which are highly patterned and usually symmetrical. Often they have iconic animal figures in the center.
I start by making new sheets of glass, using broken wine and beer bottles. I’m still working out the firing schedule, hoping to get the glass more transparent.
Then I add my interpretations of the Chorotega designs, using Michael’s “Scratch and Frit” method with glass paste and frit.
It’s time consuming and labor intensive. It gets fired several times. But the glass is free and I have the gift of time.
I’m thinking of slumping these into shallow plates, which will help the light pass through. What do you think?
My head is exploding with new information and design ideas for glass fusing with frits – that’s what we in the craft call crushed glass. I’ve just finished a 4-day workshop in Seattle, lead by Michael Dupille at his lovely studio. Dupille has been working in fused glass many years so his knowledge is vast. His studio is full of completed pieces demonstrating the skills we were learning. He’s a thorough teacher and a gentle critic. I came away with 5 pieces, each using a different technique. Most were fused in the kiln more than once. I can’t wait to try these new skills out in my own studio.
Watercolor technique with dichroic ($$$$) inclusions.
A simple casting. This was really fun to do with lots of processes.
A Scratch and Frit Sandwich.
This palette knife Macaw isn’t finished. It’ll probably be fired at least 2 more times as I work on it.
We were a nice group of six, with a great caterer, for a fun and productive weekend.
Para español ver abajo
What a great Que Lindo Feria de Arte. More than 57 artists brought their creativity, dynamic energy, and cooperative spirit to the Natural Center in Samara last Friday. Some truly beautiful work was displayed and sold. Many new friends and connections were made. Thanks to the more than 500 shoppers and to those supporters who took home a hand-made one of a kind piece of art. You helped secure the future of art in Sámara. Through the raffle and registration fees, we raised more than c138,000 ($275.00) for art education in Sámara. We will divide it equally between CREAR, who will paint a mural inside the community salon, and Sámara Pacific School, who will make a community notice board surrounded by mosaic of shells, seeds, and stones. (more…)
I was commissioned to make a wedding gift for Jim and Evelyn, who tied the knot on New Year’s Eve. We shared a lovely evening and sent them into their new life together with an amazing fireworks display over the ocean. I hope this 14″ platter will remind them. Best wishes to a great couple.
A new series, “CURRENTS”, will be on display tomorrow at Samara Organics Mercado & Café.
And Costa Rica is so very green
Here are the light catchers we made last week in the kids’ class.
If you’d like to schedule a kids’ class for a birthday party or special day, call or email for information.
Christmas ready. Available at Samara Organics. c4,000 ($8.00)
This is a fun piece I just finished. I feel a series coming on.
What is art education? Well, it’s not something that’s offered in the small country schools around Costa Rica (and maybe not so much in the school in your hometown). But I think it’s something that’s important to growth as a human being.
Today, Gecko Glass hosted 6 primary students from Escuela Santo Domingo, just 4 kilometers up the road in the hills overlooking Playa Samara. We made “light catchers” that I’ll fire in the kiln tonight. A little discussion about what is glass fusion interested the teacher but went over most of the kids’ heads.
We started by drawing some ideas on typing paper with colored pencils. The maestra was amazed at how calm and focused the students immediately became.
“Huh? Give them a colored pencil and paper and they quiet right down. Who knew?” She was as excited as they were to be here. She says these kids, who live in the hills, never get to go anywhere or do anything interesting. She thinks it’s so important for them to explore and express themselves.
I didn’t give the kids much instruction about drawing. I think everyone knows how to draw if given a chance, especially children. They may not see exactly what you see but they can express an idea. I like to see what they’ll come up without rules.
They seemed content to just work the paper but, eventually, I got out the bowls of pre-fired glass chips. They loved the colors and shapes.
They moved them around trying to match their drawings which were of course too big and impossible to reproduce. Quick adjustments were made without complaints.
The glass pieces were fixed to the clear base sheets with white glue. Who doesn’t love glue?
It took a little prodding to encourage them to explore more ideas. Dayron was “FINISHED” several times. But Sunlly kept adding to her perfect puppy until the composition was richer and more complex but still perfect.
The maestra was thrilled about how the activity touched on so many topics and she was already working the different topics into future lesson plans. Science – melting glass. Geometry – shapes. Mathematics – celcius versus farenheit. Sociology – comportment in someone’s home and studio. English – goes without saying. Even Geography – we have a compass on the bottom of our pool which fascinated them.
I think she and the parents thought I was going to teach the kids how to draw. But, of course, they already know that. I don’t think I taught them a thing but they learned a great deal.
It was a big class this week, so we stuffed fused glass art into every corner of the kiln. Two plates, two votive holders and two night lights. A great family activity produced hand crafted vacation mementos.