My studio art practice is focused on developing my craft in glass and ceramics by using the materials as a means for communicating conceptual thought and exploring material boundaries. Through the lens of a sculptor, I draft ideas as part of the creative process and form with my hands as a tool for experimentation. What influences me in the studio is the ability to translate techniques between glass and ceramics, which is what led to my current project: Glass Clay.
I was simultaneously introduced to glass blowing and forming clay. They came with similar challenges of centering and taught me how to discipline myself. While I was learning their materiality and building research, I noticed a connection between their workability and started to develop a technical-based approach. A few years after achieving a certain level of understanding within both of these art forms, I started to work with kiln forming during my undergrad at MICA in Baltimore, Maryland. Once I received my BFA in ceramics, I moved back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to train as a technician at the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC). During that time, I continued to further explore experimental techniques in the kiln and expand on my process.
As a member of the PGC community for nearly a decade, I have been able to further my education as a student, technical apprentice, and now as an artist and teacher. Over the past two or so years, I collected notes from glass artists Kari Minnick and Jean Fernandez at PGC, which led to exploring nontraditional additives within my glass work. The two methods I have been testing and translating from my ceramic background into the kiln include casting glass in the wet state, or slip casting, and hand-building a malleable glass powder formula of glass clay.
The process of making glass clay involves 3 parts: mixing the materials, forming to shape, and firing in the kiln. The main ingredient and body is glass in powder form, along with binders and suspending agents including Aloe Vera and CMC. After the glass clay is mixed, I choose to either hand-build or throw on the ceramic wheel. In the kiln, I first anticipate the variables and the limitations, including: shrinkage, off-gassing, discoloration, and warping ⎯ then I will add a casting material if the form needs support during the firing. The results are always different, but I have learned to embrace the process and listen to the properties of the material while experimenting. Glass Clay still has me questioning the boundaries of how far I can stretch the material to balance fragility in the forms and aesthetic gestures on the surface. By blending the glass material with a ceramic technique, it introduces a different way for me to sculpt glass directly with the hand ⎯ in a free-form method ⎯ in the cold state. This means I have a way to bridge the gap between my two disciplines, along with developing additional research to further my craft.
My goal is to build a better understanding of how to utilize this material by working with the glass and ceramic community for feedback and technical answers. I believe in exchanging knowledge between art forms to evolve our creative processes, which is why I value collaborating with others and pushing the boundaries of tradition through experimentation. I plan to continue questioning the sculptural techniques in craft that have potential to expand on, or blur the lines between experiencing and understanding the material as you once knew it. As I move forward with my studio practice, I will continue to readdress my process of working with glass and ceramics by deconstructing the materials and experimenting with technical methods.