DENISE MURPHY, KILN FORMED GLASS AND MOSAICS
ARTIST STATEMENT: I am an artist drawn to the beauty but also to the potential in the world around me. I see in the mundane the vision of what could become. I use my craft to capture the beauty of nature by transforming base materials into art. Nowhere is this transformation more apparent than in the translucence, fluidity, and elemental nature of glass. While the interplay of color and light in the glass appeals to my artistic eye, it is the texture, movement and interplay of these colors and textures that informs my artwork. In this way, I bring my vision into the three-dimensional space of the viewer and achieve that delicate balance of skillful technique and creativity. Color, texture and the juxtaposition of light is what makes glass art so compelling and alluring for me. It appeals to my creative urges, and calls me to the kiln for that next new exciting work that will emerge.
While I mainly work with the media of glass, I am also a mosaic artist. My glass art borrows heavily from my early foundation in fiber art; particularly with a woven technique that allows glass to simulate the texture and draping of textiles. My mosaics are expressed using a variety of tessera including glass, tile, clay and found objects.
Denise is an award-winning glass artist and recipient of the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida Art Ventures Grant. She currently resides and works on Amelia Island, Florida.
THE KILN FORM GLASS PROCESS: This is actually one of the oldest methods of working with glass, as some historians say it dates back to the time of the Ancient Egyptians. However, the first definitive evidence of glass fusing can be traced back to the Romans, who used this technique before the discovery of glass blowing. It is called kiln formed because the glass is melted and shaped in a kiln. As suggested by the name, sheets of glass are cut, combined and melted in a kiln gaining its shape by using molds.
The same principles are used in glass art as with other forms of art – some basics of art fundamentals – the elements and principal of good composition, design and color. But, additionally, you need to know the technical side – that is the science. COE or coefficiancy of expansion is the rate at which glass expands and contracts. If you combine glass with a different COE you will create thermal shock and the glass will shatter. Other ways that can cause thermal shock are: The rate at which you raise the temperature in the kiln, the rate that you lower the temperature in the kiln, how long you anneal a piece (holding at a temperature to remove strain and make glass less brittle). You should be aware of the glass chemistry to know reactive qualities. Glass is made up of different elements to help create its color. Some glass has sulfur, others copper, lead, gold. Experimentation is an important factor to keep growing as an artist. Failures are expensive!
The glass I use comes in many forms: powder, frit (glass chunks), stringers (thin spaghetti-like), and in sheets (like stained glass). Powders can be used to create paint-like qualities in the glass. I often use frit and stringers in my work to add definition and design, particularly in my more abstract pieces. I use sheets of glass most often to create the base of a piece as well as design elements.
A typical fusing process requires the glass to be heated to about 1475 degrees fahrenheit. In order to avoid thermal stress, the heating and cooling rates must be set according to the thickness of the glass. A large bowl that is maybe three layers thick may require a rate as low as 100 degrees fahrenheit per hour. That means that the average fusing cycle of this bowl could be about 20 hours or longer. Additional pieces of glass may be added to the piece to create the desired design and fired at a lower temperature known as tac fusing. This process adds dimension to the piece. The last component will be to slump or drape the piece into or onto a mold to create its final shape. This is done at a lower temperature. If I want a matte finish, I will sandblast the piece. Sometimes edges need to be ground with diamond pads. This is known as cold working the piece.
To see more of Denise’s work, visit her website at: https://www.denisemurphyglass.com/home