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Beacon Heights – Artist in Residency

Recently I was invited by the Beacon Heights Elementary School in Salt Lake City to be an Artist in Residency for the 2nd grade classes.

We did three glass projects together, two that the kids will take home, and large permanent art glass panels that will be installed in the lobby of the school.

The Residency focused on the link between the school garden and art.  The first project was art glass, the kids all made a suncatcher and a garden themed piece that will be incorporated into the installation.

Explaining the project


Explaining the safety rules


Kids love art glass!

Art Glass with kids


Finished art glass projects

The second project of the residency was creating small hanging panels with what I call a Modified Fossil Vitra technique.  Instead of the traditional Fossil Vitra technique, we sandwich all of the organic materials and frits  between layers of recycled window glass (float) and then burn out the organics during the fusing cycle, which leaves an ash ‘fossil’ behind.

For the Beacon Heights project, we used actual materials from the school garden.  Using a bucket of soil from the garden, filtered and then fired to burn out the small organic materials, some play sand, leaves and two colors of glass frit, the kids made garden theme designs.

This is a great project for kids because there are no set parameters and they get very creative very quickly.  Here is the introduction portion of the project, where I’m explaining the idea to the kids.


Here are some photos of kids doing the project and the projects ready to be fired.

Kids making Fossil Vitra projects

Student Fossil Vitra project


Fossil Vitra tiles prefiring

The final task for the Artist in Residency is completing the group projects and preparing them for installation.

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The Case for Desperation in Creativity

It all started out innocently enough; we were trying to figure out a way to modify the Self Portrait Paperweight project for the Hawthorne ELP Artist Residency.  Originally I had planned to have the kids make a clay positive face, then pour a plaster/silica mix mold for each one before doing a pot-melt with recycled bottle glass.

The hassle factor was high, as were the potential material costs. Then it dawned on me, what if the kids made a reverse portrait with clay, I put it at the bottom of a standard size mold, and the glass melts down in.  Reusable molds (in this case, extra deep terra cotta saucers, of which I own exactly 3, but which are cheap and readily available).  Problem solved!

Except no one makes the saucers anymore.  When I bought mine they were everywhere!  I discovered this after submitting my final proposal.  Nowhere in town, nowhere on the web. I’m sure I could have found them eventually, but not in the quantity that I needed (30).

So, to further complicate the process, I decided to make the saucers.  It’s only 30 or so, I have a ceramics kiln and how hard could it be.  Turns out, not very hard,  I made some nice octagonal saucers that fit on my kiln shelf nicely.

The first class to make the portraits is the 6th grade.  They have a great time, understand the concept and do good work.  Back to the studio go the faces.

But there is a problem, what is going to become known as the infamous gap.

The Problematic Gap Continue reading The Case for Desperation in Creativity