A Peek Inside My Studio

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog so I thought I’d invite you into my studio.  I live on a hill and my studio is located under the main part of the house, with two large windows that provide ample light. It’s only on the darkest of days that I need any lights on.  I had to work inside a dark cold garage at a previous house so this is a luxury.

My studio is divided into two sections: my fused glass area and my lampworking area. With my fusing area, I have two work benches where I cut glass and lay it out into patterns straight onto a moveable kiln shelf.

There’s storage under each bench, as well as the kiln table.  I also have a rack behind one of the benches which holds my molds and lots of jars of frit (crushed glass) in different colours and sizes. It doesn’t matter how much storage I have, I still seem to need more.

My benches tend towards very messy. Occasionally I’ll clean up my benches, taking off all the scrap glass etc, which isn’t easy or enjoyable.  Despite my efforts, the benches don’t stay clean for long.  Someone once told me that a messy work area is a sign of a messy mind.  I disagree.  I think a messy bench is a sign of a creative mind.  Often it is the scraps of glass laying around that trigger ideas for new projects.

Here’s my kiln.  It sits in the corner on a metal table. I’ve just finished a slumping cycle and the pieces are ready to be taken out of the kiln to be cleaned.  I actually slumped two items at the same time.  There is the large bowl that you can see clearly.  Below it, there’s a small square plate.  The largest item I can make is 40cm square and I can load two kiln shelves in there when I’m fusing pieces (the step you do before slumping where all the glass is melting into one piece).

Whilst there are many larger kilns available, this one suits my needs.  I did have to get an electrician to install a special powerpoint for the kiln.  I’m thankful that I don’t need three phase power.  The bottom shelf of my kiln actually pulls out a fair bit so I can load the kiln quite easily without anything getting in the way. This is the first kiln I bought and I’ve had it for over 10 years.  I did buy myself another kiln last year but that one is specifically for lampworking.

The other part of my studio is my lampworking area where I make glass beads.  Everything I need to work with is within arms length.  I deliberately placed the bench away from direct sunlight as sometimes when light streams in a window, I can’t see the flame.  If I can’t see the flame, then I don’t know where to work.  Where I hold the glass and mandrel (metal rod on which the bead is made) in the flame is very important. Depending on what type of detail I’m adding to a bead will determine the position within the flame. If I hold the bead directly in the centre of the flame when I’m adding fine detail, the glass will melt too quickly and ruin the design.

You can see my blue lampworking kiln in the foreground of the above photo with mandrels poking out of the kiln.  There are two little flaps on this type of kiln.  When I finish making a bead, the hot bead goes straight into the kiln.  The flap is quickly lifted and I then place the hot bead into the hot kiln to anneal (strengthen) it.

I love my studio and have spent many hours there.