My Books

My Books
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Donated Glass--Green Recycling Network

I have been asked from where am I getting all of my glass for my sculptural works. First, I have been building up sources of glass (table tops mostly) via the Freecycle donation network. Secondly, an occasional auto glass place will give me a donation or two. Thirdly, I go through several neighborhood recycle bins on recycle day and have found quite a few green bottles (specific ones) that way.

Recently, the Green Recycling Network graciously donated two large bins of glass to my public art project. This private company serves a critical role in our community by specializing in the deconstruction of whole buildings and interiors such that the maximum amount of material is diverted from land disposal at a competitive cost to traditional demolition. They also have items for sale on their website. Please visit their website for further information.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What am I Creating for My Grant Project?

I will be creating a series of large 3-D cast recycled glass dragonflies (and a few smaller ones) with a few surprise features that will be installed in an Arlington county area park next spring. As it now stands, it is likely to be Barcroft Park which is my favorite park. All the sculptural pieces of the public installation will work together to create a positive message not only about the uses of recycled glass but also about the theme of "destination." These dragonflies will have a shared "surprise" destination that will also signify goal setting, activities, busyness and persistence. Dragonflies also have a positive symbolism in several cultures relating to harmony, good luck, prosperity, hope and joy.

I am using plate, window or bottle glass for each of the dragonflies and will be adding special frits or enamels to bring additional colors and dimension to each cast piece. I have been working on a 16-17 inch test size for the large dragonfly and it looks about half of them will weigh over 10 lbs and require over 2 and 1/2 days of kiln firing, annealing and controlled cooling.

Process-wise, I first make a 3-D model of the dragonfly in clay and then build a dam (using clay or other materials) around it and pour a plaster and silica mix on top of it. After this plaster/silica mix sets, I carefully dig out the clay which can be reused. After cleaning the mold, I then have a final mold to place the broken glass pieces into for firing. After cooling, the mold is broken away from the cast dragonfly. Additional coldworking with sanders, dremel bits, etc. is done to further clean and refine the glass casting. So, it is important to note that each dragonfly is cast in a one time use original mold and the mold is not reused since it must be broken to remove the cast dragonfly. The molds are about 20 inches across and weigh over 35 lbs.

The photos below demonstrate this process.

Clay model of dragonfly

Plaster/silica mix poured on top of the clay mold

The mold has set and is flipped over to show the clay dragonfly

After the clay is removed, glass is placed into the mold.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What is an Art Grant and how can one apply?

This information is available at

The Arlington Commission for the Arts administers the grants program for Arlington County's artists and art organizations. Grants are available for non-profit arts organizations that are headquartered in Arlington and for individual practicing artists producing, composing, writing, presenting or supporting dance, literary arts, media arts, theater, visual arts or related arts, who are legal residents of Arlington.

Every year, the county awards up to three individual art spotlight grants ($5000 each) for visual, media, literary and performing arts. The deadline for the application package is in January and one has to attend a short grant seminar before applying for a grant.

While not everyone is familiar with art grant writing, myself included, I found the county contacts to be very supportive and patient in giving feedback on a draft application (prepared well in advance of the deadline of course).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Article on My Art Grant Project in Bourgeon Magazine for the Arts

Bourgeon is the online Arts Magazine written by artists. Bourgeon approaches art from the perspective of not what already has happened but focuses on the artistic process instead.

Thanks to Editor Rob Bettmann for his assistance in this article. I would encourage all artists to take the time to submit a piece for this interesting magazine! The magazine has a lot of great content for all levels of interest in the arts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Art Grant Project is mentioned in the Fairlington News

Thanks to Neel for the mention of my art grant in And I am always on the lookout for those cobalt blue bottles!

Neel has an interesting website that also covers issues for Arlington county.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What is Kiln-Cast Recycled Glass?

Most glass artists that do glass casting in a kiln, work with various types of fusible art glass as opposed to recycled glass. Fusible art glass is pretested for melting temperatures and coefficients of expansion (COE) and is consistent between colors in its results and predictability. Fusible art glass comes in sheets or billets in various colors and they are all compatible kiln-wise. In order for glass to be able to mixed with other glass, the COEs must be the same (or very close) or the glass will expand and contract at different rates. If the COE's are different, the glass will likely crack. The coefficients of expansion for art glass is typically 90 or 96.

Recycled glass comes from everyday window glass, table tops and bottles. Since the manufacturers of such glass are simply creating a fast setting/stiff glass as a consumer product (i.e, a bottle to hold soda pop, etc), they are understandably not concerned about small changes in the glass manufacturing formula. Therefore, the COE's between even bottles from an identical product or sheets of window glass can vary typically from the 70's to 80's. However, if you use glass all from the same piece (i.e., a broken glass table top), that glass is always compatible with glass from the same exact piece. If you want to mix glass from various sources, you have to do pretesting with several pieces in a small kiln and examine the cooled pieces for stress cracks.

Recycled glass takes on a fascinating stone like appearance after several kiln firings. It has to be fired at higher temperatures than art glass (over 1550) and one only gets about 2-3 firings before the glass stiffens up so much it will not flow any longer in a kiln. If you look closely at a glass table top or a clear bottle, you will often see a greenish tint which becomes very pronounced after the glass is kiln-fired.

The second photo above (Glass Flower Reborn, Copyright 2008) shows a sculpture I created using clear bottle glass for the top/flower (with copper foil inclusions), bottle glass for the stem and window glass for the base. The first photo (Glass Flower Reborn, Copyright 2009) shows a sculpture using various shades of green bottles.