Christmas is hopefully a very busy time for us glass artists. With markets, commissions and the inevitable making of gifts for family and friends, the season is fulfilling and good for business. But it can leave us feeling burnt out, often making lots of Christmas decorations repeatedly or falling into a pattern of making just our best sellers. Sometimes the joy of designing and making gets a little left behind. In this blog I’ve suggested some ways you can nurture that creative part of your brain and invigorate your enthusiasm for glass.
Dedicate time to experiment….
… with no end object in sight. Set aside time to create sample pieces to broaden your knowledge without thinking ahead to what it will become or whether it will be saleable. Play time is essential for creativity. Try to set aside about three hours a week in the quiet months. You’ll thank yourself later as new ideas start to develop. You could try things like;
Experimenting with kiln programs – You may have mastered a full fuse and slump, but how well do you really know your kiln? Is there an idea in your head that you have no idea how to fire? Maybe it has varying thicknesses or is an organic shape? Take what you know about what happens to glass at different temperatures and make informed guesses on how it should be fired. We’re always happy to offer advice on this sort of thing too!
Experimenting with colours – Do you find you have a specific colour palette you’re always drawn to? Do you always use transparents or just opaques? Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone means you can get to know your material better. Choose some unusual colours and try playing with layering and designing with a limited colour palette. Why not try this blue and this amber and see how many new shades you can create by layering them? Then let us know!
Try a course you wouldn’t usually choose.
Perhaps there’s a course you’ve been considering but haven’t yet booked because it seems a stretch from how you currently work with glass. And that may well be, but learning new skills isn’t just about the projects on the course. Your own knowledge is unique, garnered from your own experience. The real benefit of going on a course is about the sparks that start to fly around your head when you suddenly learn something that reveals opportunities and new ideas that inform the way you already work, elevating you to becoming a better and more confident maker with more skills in your arsenal.
If you don’t have a course in mind and are seeking one out, I’d recommend our Introduction to UGC Enamels and MUD course. You don’t need to be a painter, but you will learn lots of fun new skills to create intricate embellishments on the surface of glass.
Dig out, or buy, that ‘inspiration’ piece of glass.
Every glass artist needs this piece, the piece of sheet glass that you don’t know what you’re going to do with but that you absolutely love. Have it on display somewhere that you can see it as you work. You don’t need to put pressure on yourself to make something out of it (I myself have one or two of these pieces I’ve had for six or seven years! My favorite is this piece of stained glass) but being able to see it gives you a pang of ‘that’s magic!’ to remind you of the ethereal quality of glass and how beautiful it is to you.
Seek out artists in other mediums who are inspired by the same things you are.
Take time to figure out how you fit in the context of other artists. Perhaps you are inspired by the movement and vastness of your local coastline and it features a lot in your work. Is there somebody else working in ceramics, painting on canvas or working in any other medium who has the same inspiration? What do you notice about how they interpret it? How is it different to what you do? Do you achieve the same tone or make the same impact? Identifying this can help you hone your craft and give clarity to your artistic direction.
Get back to the drawing board.
Literally. Whether you’re somebody who designs as they go with the glass leading the way or someone who meticulously measures and draws out a precise design, letting go and ‘free’ drawing is a useful way to alleviate the confines of your process and open yourself up to new ways of designing. Don’t worry, you don’t need drawing skills, this about the process, not the finished drawing. All you need to do is put pencil to paper and draw without thinking to blow away the creative cobwebs. Then next time you go to design for glass you’ll have a clear mind, and who knows you might want to derive a design from your free drawing!
A Merry Christmas to you from all of us here at Creative Glass Guild. Thank you so much for being a customer and for inspiring us all the time with all the wonderful artworks you create with our products. Let us know if you have any other ideas to nurture your creativity in the early months of next year. We look forward to seeing your experiments and new ideas.
Wishing you a happy and glassy 2020.