Stained glass: so many tentacles, so little time

February 6, 2013

A week ago, I started taking an intro to stained glass through Los Gatos recreation. As I was considering taking the class, a slumped glass artist friend (Kristin, IdleCreativity at Etsy) said she’d heard of the teacher and asked did I want to take the class. Well, yes, with having a friend in the class as an extra bonus, I stopped waffling about taking Spanish instead and signed up for stained glass. I got that sinking feeling as the instructor started to talk. He gave us a list of things we needed to get. The signup said there would be about $100 of additional materials. I had a check, figured the instructor would get us the basic pack and we’d be on our own if we wanted extra goodies. But a list was fine, I can go acquire things. He told us where to go (Kiss My Glass in Santa Cruz) and that the store owner could describe things in more detail. But it would probably be a bit more than $100. That was all fine, the sinking came as we went over the list.

He started to talk about which things on the list we shouldn’t get. And we should organize to get only one of something between the six students. And really, he’d just bring it himself, we shouldn’t get one. Oh, but make sure you get a glass cutter. But not one like this. Or this or this. One like this (holding up example) but one that works (it didn’t cut the glass he tried it on).

Ummm… could I have a list of stuff I need to bring for next time? We went through the list a couple times and I just got more and more confused. He spent so much time talking about how to save money without explaining why we’d want horseshoe nails vs. tacks or why he thought my soldering iron wouldn’t work (it will, I’ve got a 70W Hakko, but my old 40W Weller wouldn’t work, the internet is wonderful). He’d go on tangents (he hates the fad for blown glass pumpkins though it is his bread and butter), he forgot all our names (I’m known as Ellen which is kind of odd but I’m ok with it), he changed his story on every thing: this glass is great (tries demonstrate how to cut), no, it sucks, no, it is the cutter, no, it is the glass, no, it is the phase of the moon.

Sigh. I doodled.

I find doodling to be extremely soothing. You can see at the top, I was thinking about doing a landscape. I’d seen and admired a stained glass landscape. I liked the way the glass was the star of the landscape so I hoped I could do something similar for myself. I doodled different options. The teacher commented on my doodling but didn’t take me up when I offered to repeat what he’d said. (Note: I’ve grown, up I once offered to repeat what a teacher said verbatim. It’s the doodling, it puts me in the zone and I remember stuff. )

As newbies, we were supposed to choose out of a book. I didn’t realize that until after I’d doodled a bit. And there were two in the book I liked ok. But then we started talking about jellyfish. (I mentioned there were tangents, right? Jellyfish!) So I sketched up something cute (the ink one, not the pencilled escape-from-pacman one) and asked if that could be made to work. He said yes.
In fact, the only thing we have to bring to class (tonight) is our plan. Well, and glass cutters. Maybe glass cutters. It was unclear if someone else would bring them.
Actually, Kristin was part of the bring-glass-cutters-or-not dilemma. She does a lot of glass work, a lot of glass cutting. (And I love her stuff; the time she let me play in her lab was really awesome.) So she’s got extra tools, many of which she doesn’t like for one reason or another. She’s also got a ton of glass.
On Friday, I went over to Kristin’s place to see the glass. I was hoping to decide if I was going landscape or jellyfish. Instead, I went into overload. I mean, glass is pretty. Shiny. And light. Transluuuuuuscent. Really, really pretty. And it comes in more colors than I could describe. Kristin let me dig through her scrap pile… really, scraps piles since she sorts the scrap by color; she’s very organized. After much agonizing, I decided to go with my jellyfish as I fell in love with some glass that would make perfect tentacles. And as we all know, it is really about the tentacles with me.

Armed with glass, I spent Saturday morning making a proper design. Waves across the top in blues and greens, a jellyfish in the lower right with blue, white, purple swirly tentacles. The goal is to have fewer than twenty pieces of glass to cut out, a requirement/suggestion/thought from the teacher.

Kristin gave me some clear, iridescent, super textured glass. I was thinking about using it for the jelly body. But a purple or pink might be look better.

So I went off to Kiss My Glass where the owner had had a family emergency and the person working the counter didn’t know much about stained glass (she did lampwork beads which sounds fun). I was pretty glad I didn’t need anything particularly, just to look at the glass. And there was a lot of lovely glass to look at.

When I got home, I realized that I probably have more than twenty different kinds of glass. Which is a shame since I can’t use it all. And Kristin’s glass is special so I can’t just give it all back to her, using the wrong kind might shatter one of her fused glass pieces. Still, they are all so pretty. It was hard to leave them in the store where they might get dusty again.

You can see in that picture that I got some water+tentacles to go between the main jelly tentacles. And some differently textured cobalt blues. And some greens. The jelly cap is purple and translucent but you can’t tell on the table there, it looks really nice in the light. I don’t think I’ll be using the iridescent clear. And that isn’t all the glass I have. Here’s some that didn’t make it to the table:

So many tentacles, so little time.

Tonight, we are supposed to get our designs approved. Then we’ll learn how to cut glass using some clear glass and some standard shapes. I’m kind of excited. Once I can cut with confidence, I can cut it all out at home to see if my colors work well, to find the perfect tentacles in my sheets. (Yes, the third class is supposed to be about cutting the colored glass but getting ahead is ok, right?)

Finally, I cut my finger, moving the glass around for these pictures. Since bandaids was on the list and wasn’t marked off in someway… well, I’ve got mine already in my tool box.