It is difficult to find to time to sit down at the keyboard when these beautiful days of fall—arguably the best time of the year in northern California—are enticing us to go outside and play. This year we were lucky enough to have a heavy downpour very early in our rainy season and the usually paper-bag-dry hills are covered in a fine green fuzz.
I am spending my days in the shed making hundreds, no thousands, of teeny tiny flowers. Penstemon, shooting star, wild clover and butterfly weed. But you know I love those blues: hound’s tongue, forget-me-not, borage and cornflowers. And most recently, larkspur. A tricky little flower to make because of the eponymous spur, but I think I finally got figured it out. At the moment, I am just making shelf after shelf of these tiny flowers, stockpiling (hoarding?!) them so that I’ll have them at my fingertips when I’m ready to start my next composition in glass.
These flowers are different from earlier versions. In the past, each of the petals has been lamp-worked, then the elements assembled on the shelf. The method is sometimes problematical because working with a flame that’s low enough to produce teeny tiny petals and stamens can cause the glass to discolor—particularly the pinks. This low propane flame is a “reducing” flame—too much propane causes the heat to steal the oxygen from the glass and muddy up the color. So with the latest batch of flowers, I pre-fired strips of different pinks, corals and violets, layering up thin strips of glass on top of each other and including them in a full fuse firing. I then took my mosaic-cutters to the strips, chip-chopping thousands of tiny multi-colored cross-sections. Used the tweezers to lay these tessera out as petals and joined each cluster of petals together with lamp-worked-stringer stamens and pre-fired to a very light tack fuse. Incredibly nittily-nattily and time-consuming.
Whilst the big kiln is preoccupied with the flowers, the little guy has been busy firing glass cabochons. I have a commission to make some reliquary jewelry incorporating cremation ashes. An interesting project—the trick is respectfully incorporating just a wee amount of the ashes and then capping them in clear without trapping ugly bubbles.
This week working very small. I think next week it will be time to turn towards some larger projects.