Thursday, April 2, 2015

Small Vessels: Story and Classes

That's all I've been making lately because they're challenging in technique and yet explosive as canvases as my desire to imagine and create carefully unravels...

Photo by Coury

Whatever you want to call them, these pieces are ultimately one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry which serve a function: the oil of your choice inside the vessel supplies you with a whiff of balance, health and energy. To see examples of vessels I've made please visit my website and Pinterest.

When I'm surrounded by friends, I'm often surrounded by my glass vessels. Why? Because life happens and we all need something to help us cope with those moments.

My first vessel was born when a friend asked me to make one for her adult daughter who has special needs. My friend had decided, with essential oils, to help her daughter come off a few of her dozens of different medications. The only way she figured she could do it is by putting the oil into a pretty necklace that her daughter would want to wear all the time. Well, it worked!

Looking back, I'm happy to say that it worked for them and for many others who choose to have the oils at their side contained in an art glass small vessel worn on a necklace. The following is a quote from a friend,  "My vessel focuses all my senses on the beauty of the moment - captured by Liliana in glass - and helps put life's stresses (big and small) into perspective."

All you need is a drop of essential oil (to avoid spillage) which will last you for a couple of weeks. You may renew the scent with a fresh drop or give your vessel a rinse with soap water and try a new oil. Essential oils can be found online or, as I’ve been doing, acquire them at Whole Foods. If you’re worried about spillage, place a tiny piece of cotton on the bottom of your vessel to absorb the oil.

This is my personal vessel which I have worn almost daily for almost two years. I've had a variety of oils in it over time which I selected based on what I was in need for at the time, i.e. energy or balance, to treat a cold or to manage appetite... I often find myself holding it in my hand and just looking at it like I would at a painting.

Photo by Coury

I often design and create vessels based on specific requests about color, thematic aura and other elements preferred by the person in question. My absolute favorite is being able to imagine the person for whom the piece is destined and think of her all along the process till the vessel is ready. All vessels are made of glass which is properly annealed and constructed so that it lasts forever. However, it is glass so treat it accordingly… with care..

I love sharing my technique and my approach to designing and creating small vessels. In order to benefit from my class, the student needs to be conversant in lampwork vocabulary and own his/her skill with moderate certainty. If not, then our journey will start with learning how to wind discs and make hollow beads. Secondly, we will learn how to blow small balls on the end of a pipe with an even bubble inside and a balanced distribution of glass around it. One exercise in class is all about designing and making handles on a barrel glass bead. Handles take longer sometimes than the vessel itself because of everything we're feeling: there's this sense of profound relief after having brought the piece to its fruition and, yet, the handles turn to be a bit tricky. That's why a week-long class is the best way to arrive at a point where all the exercises we do make sense and bring great results. All along, sprinkled atop everything we make, we will imagine color and design, and develop a sense of personal voice in our expressions.

I've scheduled to teach two such classes this year both in May. I will share everything I've learned over the years with glass: discs, hollow beads and small vessels, while tailoring my knowledge to students' concern and needs. We will discuss ways of finishing the vessels into necklaces. Let me know if you have questions by e-mail.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How long did it take you to make this?

Joyce (J): How long did it take you to make this bead?
Liliana (L): [pause]

No matter how long I take to look at the to-be-appraised-in-terms-of-time piece handed to me, it's more often that I give an answer because it is a question after all and it requires some sort of answer which is valued more if given in units of time. Except, even though I don't have trouble counting minutes and after so many years of doing it I could intuitively tell how many minutes something took to make, I hesitate because the location in my brain where the answer lies momentarily gets flooded with hard-to-sequence minutes, and hours, and days when I lose track of time.

Time becomes irrelevant when I'm behind the torch, rod in hand with a beautiful, hot flame which is as eager to veil my glass with heat as I am to discover something new while melting the glass with some imaginary purpose. This purpose is somewhat ill-formed and yet it acquires so much speed and determination in this complicated dance of multiple participants whose moves are predetermined by their very existence.
And, yet, here I am, planning ahead for resources including glass rods and tools on my station, plenty of propane in the tank and a well-running source of oxygen, and time. How long will this take me? Do I have the time right now to dedicate myself to this experiment?

Over the years I have prepared myself plenty o'times for wasted glass, wasted propane and oxygen, wasted electricity, and well-deserved pain in my hands and my back for sitting down at the torch for too long, for dry and sensitive eyes. Wasting time is one concept that I've been able to manage better than feeling my pain and the regret peeking out the counting of fewer rods in my vast collection of glass. Why do you ask? The only way I can answer this question is in units of love - I feel love to infinity when I'm behind the torch and melting glass.

J: How long did it take you to make this bead?
L: This bead represents a collection that took me three years or so to develop and feel good about so that I could systematize the process and make one in about 1 hour.
J: [shakes her head in disbelief] And how much is it?
L: $65.

Units are important, I know. Some conversations have to be concise and very clear. Oftentimes the subject of such conversations is not value but rather something more quantifiable and measurable: time in minutes or hours, cost in dollars, etc. etc. These conversations do become more substantive in value as I develop relationships with my students and customers; my students make wonderful customers :-) since they arrive at value the hard way through their own practice of the theory I teach them and the demonstrations in my classes. I find it easier to have conversations of value with people who I see more than once and instead of making sentences at each other we venture into story-telling, each story - one block at a time - gets placed into a foundation of important relational significance and investment into time.

J: What was on your mind when you made this? [J is pointing to a necklace with a large focal bead the upper part of which is a vast sky in a few colors of blue. The lower half is a horizon of tall skinny grass on a hot silvered beach.]
L: This piece and 10 others sprung out of a time in my life when I needed space. I felt burdened emotionally and I need silence. Most of the time I feel silence and peace when I'm at the ocean or I'm looking at fine artists' depictions of space by a large body of water.
J: [shakes her head vigorously] That's exactly it! I felt so peaceful and rested when brought this bead to my eyes and when I felt it in my hand.
L: [smiles and shakes her head in agreement]

Not all conversations are equal. There's value in all of them. I appreciate all the opportunities I create and I'm given whether I'm in my showroom, at a show or in my classroom. Let's give each other chances to have all kinds of conversations and the value will unveil itself at some point no matter the cost.

The "Unselected Poem" below by Chris Bursk is a reflection on the issues at hand. I hope you like it as much I did.

Say a man writes 2 poems a week for 50 years
- take away 1 poem for every week
his hands got distracted
with a papier-mache Mount Vesuvius
his daughter was molding
or a fort he was building with hi Cub Scouts
or a protest sign he held up at the statehouse.
You do the math:
52 weeks times 2 poems a week equals 104,
minus 15 neglected poems equals 89,
times 50 years equals 4,450,
minus 52 for the long year his mother took to die,
minus 26 for the six months his father took to die.
That leaves 4,372 poems by the time he's 70.
Maybe 400 or so, if he's lucky, make their way
into print, which leaves 3,972 poems
just waiting to be thrown away when he dies.
But, look, he's at work on yet another poem.

published by The Sun in their 40th Anniversary Issue (January 2014, issue 457)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ode to wonderful students

Yes, these are my students (missing Becca who sneaked out before I could snap this photo). Some more advanced in the lampwork skill but mostly beginners, they took my Melting Through Glass week-long workshop at Snow Farm this past August. You can probably tell that their aural predisposition continues beyond this moment and that they are all as cheerful, friendly, and simply wonderful all the time including when they pose for a photo. Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Arizona, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts - these states couldn't have been better represented. Yes, I mean that for the one from Texas as well! ;-) I miss you all!!

 Thank you for coming together as a community that grew together every day with knowledge and laughter, and yet each individual managed to express herself by making distinct, unique and beautiful beads.... Check them out below. The beads are lying on top of one of our teaching aids and the adorning flora was carefully selected by our flower specialist who made sure that we always had beautiful local flowers to be inspired by while at the torch. All the beads and the display for our Gala event (organized at the end of the week to show student work in all the classes on campus) are products of my students' love for glass, creative energy and great camaraderie. The majority of the beads on display are by my students who had never made beads or melted glass ever before - amazing, isn't it?!!

And here we are at work: glass rod in hand and flame on.