THE ART BLOG
Submitted by Katherine Russell
Now that my exhibition is up, I can resume working on my next project: a public artwork titled "Pass in the Clouds" for the Elkford Community Conference Center.
The last few months I have been fabricating dozens of technical tests at sample-size before committing to a full-scale panel. What kinds of technical tests you ask?? Glass-making tends to be less spontaneous than other mediums like drawing and painting, and requires lots of planning and testing before the initial vision for the work can be realized. Three main areas needed figuring out:
1) the layers. Since I can't cut the blue of the sky to the exact same silhouette as the mountain line - how do I achieve this without having a gap between the sky and mountains? After several tests experimenting with different sequences of layers (I have 4 layers to play with here) I decided the best way to achieve this would be to use two formats of glass... blue sheet glass covering the sky and going underneath the mountains AND blue frit (crushed up glass) sitting on top of the blue sheet glass, to fill the space on the top layer of glass right up to the mountain silhouette. This doubling of the blue makes for a stormy and dramatic sky, but from what I've heard about this hike... it fits the bill!
2) the opacity. Since that blue sheet glass needs to tuck under the mountain surface, I'm concerned about seeing a horizontal line inside the mountain area. The glass I've used for the mountains (blues, greys, browns and white) is all opaque, but to varying degrees... sometimes the white and the light grey becomes see-through after firing. And an added challenge: since the sky is transparent and the finished artwork will be hung directly under lighting, the light will come from above and behind the work as well. So, I've swapped out some of the colours and even brought my samples to the site they will be installed at to test the true lighting out in person.
3) the imagery. Each glass 'slice' that makes up the mountains will have imagery depicted on it. This imagery is achieved by taking my original photographs and tracing them with india ink:
or printing them onto transparencies:
burning it on a silkscreen, and "printing" with powdered glass onto the coloured glass sheet:
This works well for imagery that gets repeated such as the elk footprints or the cedar branches but for the photograph of the Connor Lakes cabin which is horizontal landscape... I'm only able to use a narrow vertical section of the photograph. This makes it hard to recognize, but incorporating factual imagery in this artwork is important to me. So, after a few re-prints, I think I've captured a section that conveys that exact location... I hope you agree!
After solving the above, it was time to begin planning for the full scale artwork (11' by 6'). I got all my colour ordered from Bullseye Glass in Portland, plus plenty of extra. I used google maps to accurately depict the silhouette of this Pass:
and projected it onto the wall to trace that ridge line onto poster board to make my templates:
Then I sized my imagery to fit the vertical slices and determined roughly what would go where:
As I write this, I've got the first (of six) full-sized panels firing in the kiln. I'm anxious to see if all the technical challenges tested on the sample sizes passes at full-scale. If you want to see updates more often on this project, follow me on Instagram at: "katherinerussellglass"
Know someone who has hiked the Pass in the Clouds? Contact me, I want to hear their story! So far I'm enjoying hearing about mid-summer blizzards, coral found up top and very difficult terrain. These stories have already help shaped this artwork.... keep 'em coming :)
This project is funded by:
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