At a time when I had moved across the country to take a day-job editing a scientific journal, I enrolled in a night-school class expecting to learn the ins and outs of copper-foiling stained glass. That first night the instructor had a glass cutter in one hand and a crowbar in the other. We could learn how to use this, he indicated the glass cutter, or we could give this a try, and he gestured with the crowbar towards a giant packing crate on the studio floor. I chose the crowbar and discovered a kiln. A kiln for glass. Twenty-five years later I am still exploring and discovering new and exciting ways to create art from glass using a kiln.
Nestled beneath a shady heritage oak tucked into a hillside in northern California, I share my garden studio with two dogs who are smart enough to avoid the rainbow shards of hot or sharp glass that can tumble from my workbench. In a nod to my Australian youth my studio has a verandah out the front, a clothesline out the back and an old rocking chair.
What do I do? I use sheet glass the same as stained glass artists do. I cut it, shape it over a flame, piece it together in layers, fire it in a kiln, lay out a final design and fire it again. Some pieces go in and out of the flame and the kiln many times. There are rules about how you should work with glass; sometimes I break them.