Thursday, June 28, 2012

An idea

            Glass is neat stuff. I love the way it is transparent or translucent. For the most part, clay is an opaque medium. (There are notable exceptions - Google Margaret O'Rorke if you want to see some amazing translucent porcelain!) Glass, on the other hand, lets light all the way through it.
            I've been thinking about glass for maybe a year now. I'm curious about working with it; I'll probably try sometime. I used to be afraid of the idea of working with glass, because you have to get it hot to make it move. Now that I've gotten used to the burners on a gas kiln, however, I'm not afraid at all of the little propane torches used to make beads. Glass blowing is another beast, but having stoked a wood kiln near the end of the firing, I'm figuring I could be ok with a big glass kiln too.
            I'm thinking of what I could make with both glass and clay, in one piece. I don't know how feasible it is to attach glass to clay. But glaze is basically glass and it sticks just fine... so maybe there is a way to get more normal glass to stick to fired clay. And if there is, well then one could make all sorts of neat things!
            So here's my latest crazy idea. I want to make wine glasses out of clay. Doing this with clay in the first place is probably kind of silly, because a) wine glasses need to be super thin to be nice, and it's much harder to make things that are super thin than things that are, well, normal pot thickness; b) it's much harder to make thin things with multiple parts, like a stem plus a foot plus a cup, which is what wine glasses are; c) if I want the glass (goblet? if it's not glass, can I call it a glass?) to be translucent then I'd better make it with translucent porcelain, which is harder to hand build with too. So basically it's a silly idea. But, I want to try it anyway. Because if it works it will be really, really cool.
            And then I had my idea. What if I use normal clay, or whatever clay I want I guess, and just make the stem and the foot out of clay? And then make the cup part glass? Or get a glass artist who actually knows how to do it to make the cup part - that might be a better idea since I don't know how to do that really. Then I could make the stem the shape of a tree, and the glass part could be colored glass, in fall colors so that it's like the leaves of the tree. The foot part would have the tree roots.
            Here's a sketch I made of this idea:

            You might want to click on the picture and look at it in a larger size so you can see it better. Now, this particular idea of the tree glass is a little complicated because I don't know how you'd make the glass cup so that it fits inside the tree branches, and I don't know whether it's possible to melt the glass just enough to make it stick to the clay without slumping in an unattractive way. A simpler idea that might be a better place to start would be to make a clay foot and stem that does not wrap around the cup part so much, so that the cup can basically be set on the stem without having to be the right shape to nestle in. I might come up with a theme other than the tree that doesn't involve so much nestling.
            This idea is so exciting! But I think I need to find a glass artist to collaborate with. Don't get me wrong, I fully intend to spend some time playing around with glass myself. I'm interested in collaborating with someone who knows what they are doing, however, as I think two people with differing expertise might be able to craft more exciting and awesome things than one person familiar with one medium.
            What do you think, readers? I know you are out there because I can see the statistics on Blogger. I want to hear what you have to say; otherwise it's like I'm talking into a vacuum here. You don't have to know a lot about clay to have interesting ideas I'd like to hear about. Or questions... I'd love to answer some questions!


  1. You're not talking into a vacuum!

    The sketch looks really neat, and I think it might be worth the effort to form the glass into the branch shape, if that could be done without destroying the clay. What if the glass part still nested, but only a certain distance up from the bottom so that a separate glass piece could be easily inserted and glued in?


  2. Thank you for responding!

    Gluing the glass in is another thing I'm considering. I think I'd like it if the whole thing could be one piece as a matter of principle without having to use glue, but as I just don't know for sure if that's possible in the way I want, attaching two separate pieces is something to keep in mind. I do worry that the glue would be visible through the transparent glass, but maybe a really good glue job with the right glue wouldn't look bad. I do know of glue that would effectively attach clay and glass together. I'd have to make sure the edges where everything is attached are sealed, though, so water couldn't get in when it gets washed.

  3. Hi River,

    This blog is amazing and I'm really impressed by the designs. My mum has a potter friend who did something a bit similar, buying cheap wine glasses and then breaking off the stems and replacing them with thrown stems from clay. We have a set and I can't see the glue through the glass at all, so I think it is possible to do in a way so that it all looks like one piece. I hope you get a chance to try it


  4. It's neat to hear that someone else did something in this vein. That sounds like a clever way to do it, too. I was sort of fantasizing about collaborating with a glass artist who would make the cup part out of some awesome artisan glass and/or in a neat asymmetrical shape. But your suggestion might actually give me a way to experiment/see how it works in the meantime before this magical glass wizard appears. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Also, I'm glad you like the blog! It is fun to do; I like sharing my thoughts and my work with the world. I find it very encouraging when the world gives positive feedback. :)