I see myself and human nature in the material of glass. It's transparent, marked, formed by heat, and adaptable. I'm drawn to this material strongly because of how compelling I find it to be. It's a liquid burning at 2450 degrees Fahrenheit and impossible to touch with bare hands, and yet I can pour it, mark it, shape it, form it into my desires, or let it shape itself as it naturally cools before my eyes. My work is partially manipulated by my gloves and tools, and partially free formed by gravity to take on its own desired shape. In my experience we learn when pressed, stretched, pushed, and made to feel our internal edges and borders. My glass pieces are formed in the same manner thru heat, pressing, stretching, and forming. They are abstractions of us.
My process of glass casting begins with ladeling glass from a furnace that burns at 2350 degrees Fahrenheit! The furnace holds about 600 lbs. of molten hot glass. We use recycled clear glass windshields and bottles at my studio. These broken up pieces are shoveled into the furnace, and melt over the course of 24 hours into a molten consistency that pours much like the thickness of honey. The only difference is that it is 2350 degrees Fahrenheit, much unlike honey! I suit up in a thick leather jacket, long pants, face shield and Kevlar fireproof gloves and "scoop" molten glass out of the furnace with a ladle into graphite, sand, or steel mold.. The ladle weighs about 40 lbs.
Often I have to scoop 2 to 4 consecutive ladles into my molds to get the size of pieces that you see in some of the images. From there I drop the ladle and attend to the glass, which is slowly cooling inside of the mold material. I use a torch that shoots fire to keep certain edges warm as the center of the piece still holds the majority of the heat. This process can take up to several minutes depending upon the size of the piece. Once cooled adequately, I attach the mass of glass to a 6 foot steel rod called a "punti" in Italian. This enables me to reheat the entire piece in a glory hole. The glory hole is a reheating chamber that burns at 2200 degrees Fahrenheit. I can then re-melt some areas I want to manipulate and re-shape. This process can go on for up to 1-3 hours depending on my desired result.
I sometimes work with a team of 1 to 4 assistants to help me with this process. It is hot and heavy work without any breaks. If the glass gets too cold it shatters before my eyes, if it gets to hot it drips uncontrollably onto the floor.
At the end of the shaping process the piece is broken off of the punte with water and put into an annealing oven. This annealing oven cools the piece from 950 degrees Fahrenheit to room temperature over about 4 days. The piece has to cool slowly as it goes thru many chemical changes going from a liquid to a solid. It is an act and dance of balance. It has taken me 20 years to master this craft and process.
I was born in New Orleans, LA and live between Nola (as its called), and Los Angeles, CA. I entered my Masters Program in Social Work at Tulane University in 1995 and took an elective studio class “Beginning Glass Art” taught by Gene Koss. It was love at first sight. The physicality of working hot glass fit perfectly with my Mercurial personality and resilient attitude. I have taught glass casting as an assistant in: Toyama-Japan; Pilchuck Glass School- Stanwood, WA; Penland School of Crafts-North Carolina; Urban Glass-Brooklyn, NY; First City Art-Pensacola, FL; and Tulane University in New Orleans, LA.
I have created one of a kind cast and blown glass pieces for Hilton Hotel, restaurants, galleries, and am in private collections worldwide.
I see human nature in the material of glass. The heat and trials of life shape us, changing our internal edges and borders, just as heat shapes glass. My glass pieces are formed in the same manner. I approach creating my work from this mindset.
Giving Back is important to me, so In 2010 I created and founded “The Yes Foundation, INC” a 501(c)(3) to teach persons with disabilities using wheelchairs to blow and cast molten glass. In 2016 I received a US Patent for my invention of a modified workbench that participants in wheelchairs can cast and blow glass from, making this studio art form ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliant. The Yes Foundation, INC accepts donations, and is on Amazon Smile at www.amazon.com as a Charity that can receive a percentage of sales from your purchase. Find out more at: www.theyesfoundationinc.com
1) Shaping glass in the "Cold Shop" on a belt sander