I’m trying to figure out how to construct a fused glass butterfly", Mum told me as she taped out ‘b-u-t-t-e-r-f-l-y’ in Google Images, a source of great inspiration! Working on a special commission, she printed a few pages and studied the various shapes, colours and lines that make up the beautiful winged creature.
Using a technique called glass fusing or glass slumping she pieces together fragments of coloured glass in a collage, creating quirky interpretations of animals and fictional creatures, abstract pictures and mirrors.
In a similar way to stained glass windows, Kathleen uses cold glass pieces to arrange her pieces. Usually fused glass artists buy panes of coloured glass, like flat window panes, to fuse and slump their pieces – at Jerpoint we have the great advantage of having a ready supply of high quality coloured glass from our glassblowing studio.
This brings a unique dimension to her work of extra textures, depth and the colour palette now synonymous with Jerpoint Glass. Some of the broken and off-cut glass from the glassblowing process can be reused however, for most of the fused glass pieces the glassblowers at Jerpoint make special coloured rods which Kathleen fuses together to build her scenes or creatures.
Each new design is hand sketched first to act as a blueprint for the finished image. Then Kathleen starts to build her pattern. When she is happy with the final design, the pieces are placed in the slumping oven and under the intense 800OC heat where each fragment melts and fuses together.
The oven goes through a cooling cycle and the melted glass becomes fixed in their new position. They are set and strengthened in the oven – after 8 hours the butterflies are free to fly off to their new home!
The lady who commissioned the butterfly was thrilled and chose her favourite of the three which will take pride of place amongst her collection. Kathleen’s fused glass creatures and pictures are available direct from the studio on+353 56 7724350 or firstname.lastname@example.org or by special commission.
Want to know more? Have a read of this story, ‘Fused Glass Art by Kathleen Leadbetter’?