The Bullseye Resource Center (sic) recently published a video showing how Ted Sawyer produces his ethereal glass panels. I do like Sawyer’s work so thought I would see whether it was possible to reproduce.
Sawyer’s technique is essentially to sift layers of transparent glass powder onto clear sheets of glass and manipulate the powder with water, Glastac and clay modeling tools. He uses a lot of powder, a lot of layers and works on both sides of large 1m square panels so they need to be fused twice.
My first attempts were more modest – four colours on one side of 18cm square glass. My thinking was that if they did not work as panels I could slump them to make sushi plates. Two panels were disappointing and the other two (beach and nebula below) I framed in box frames with two cut mounts rather than a backing board. This means they can sit with a window or light source behind to show off the layers and texture.
The idea behind the technique is to create abstract patterns not only of colour but also of texture and transparency. There is nothing particularly hard about the techniques but it is the visualization of the finished effect that sets Sawyer apart.
The most fun was dropping water from a height onto the powder to produce craters that were then filled with another colour. I have to say that if that was the highlight then I wont be producing many more!
The other ‘problem’ is the long fusing schedule – almost 24 hours. Admittedly the schedule is recommended for a 1m square sheet but with a highest temperature of 693°C it is somewhat short of a full fuse. This means that some of the texture is preserved but because the powder does not fully fuse some of the transparency itself is lost.
I know that I am not as gifted as Ted Sawyer but I would rather run a kiln full of pattern bars or work 6 layers deep if it is going to take 24 hours.