Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Virtue Glass Flame Fest

Earlier this month, I traveled to Rockville, Maryland for Virtue Flameworks' Annual Flame Fest, an event in which they bring together teams of artists for a long weekend of collaboration.  I've known Matt and Amy, the owners of Virtue Glass, for many years, and was so honored to be included in this year's event.

The three days were intense, tiring, inspiring, and terribly fun.  The bulk of my time was spent working on a team with 4 other artists: Michael G-Check, Phil Sundling, Matty Phunk, and Rob Campellone.  Together, we created a wall piece that included parts made by all of us.  Rob made the green hollow disc that acted as a foundation for crows, hands, and branches (made by Phil and yours truly).  Matty spent hours painstakingly creating, cutting apart, and reassembling flat cane that acted as the frame for the piece.  Michael made the molecular bubbly elements and handled a lot of the final assembly.  Our final night- during the last leg of final attachments- went very late (this pic was taken at approximately 4 AM), but our piece was a success.  I had a wonderful time getting to work with these guys!

I also worked on a few smaller projects with other artists at the event: a winged "Goofball" creature with Joey Trankina; a colorful ruffle bowl with butterflies with Jason Gordon, another branched functional piece with Phil, and an articulated butterfly with friend Kim Edwards (https://www.kimedwardsglass.com/).  Photos below!

And a bonus: Robert Kincheloe, artist and friend, making popcorn in an enormous glass bubble on the lathe: 

Bigger projects: Butterfly Wing Necklaces

For years, I've been wanting to build some larger, more complex, more time-consuming pieces utilizing butterfly wings.  I stumbled along with a few different approaches, many using jump rings, but wasn't happy with the result- wire/ metal gave too much movement and not enough structure to the wings.  I knew the solution was in fiber- and I realized the solution was in a macrame technique from Stephanie Sersich (http://sssbeads.com/).  I've since made a few necklaces using this approach, and I'm delighted with how they've turned out.

The first necklaces used borosilicate glass, in shades reminiscent of the oranges/ ambers in Monarch butterflies.  I wanted to capture the imagery around Monarchs overwintering on trees; I just love the layers upon layers of wings!  Aside from the 40 or so glass wings in the necklace, I used vintage Czech seed beads and faceted onyx beads with the waxed linen and perle cotton.  This one is modeled by my dear friend Kelli, and found its forever home last year.  

The most recent necklace I finished was in shades of blues and greens, this time using my vitreous enameled, soft glass wings.  There's around 35 wings in this one, along with turquoise, apatite, sodalite, and fibers in muted blues and greens to match the wings.  I use a flameworked borosilicate hook as the clasp.  For as bulky as these necklaces are, they're surprisingly comfortable.  The fiber/ macrame provides quite a bit of structure and helps to distribute the weight evenly around the necklace.  The movement is a lot of fun, too- just enough to remind you that they're butterflies, but not so much that the wearer jingles every time they move!  

I'm working on a vibrant blue version right now- any color requests for the next necklaces?  I'm thinking pinks/ ambers/ purples might be next...