Saturday, April 30, 2016

Artist Spotlight: Linda Sue Price on Bending Glass

Bending glass is the process of heating glass over fire until it becomes pliable. 
Linda Sue Price explains her process and progress. 
Linda Sue Price, Nothing Is Black and White, Neon, 15 x 15" 
When I first started to learn how to bend my intention was to bend free form. However, in order to get in touch with the glass I had to practice bending to pattern. Pattern bending comes from the head whereas freeform comes from the gut.

When bending freeform I feel very connected to the glass. It’s like having a conversation with the glass. Some times the communication flows and other times not.
Pattern bending is another issue. But finally after years of practice and the desire to be able to create specific forms, I am now learning how to surrender to the pattern. There are so many things to consider when bending to pattern—how you go into the fire and come out of it so you are positioned to land easily on the pattern.
Other challenges I faced was under heating and twisting the glass. The idea is to heat the right amount of glass for the bend you are making, get it hot enough and heat it evenly.
There are three types of fires used to heat the glass. The ribbon burner—my favorite—for making loop shapes; the cross fire for specific small movements like V’s, U’s, and L’s; and the hand torch for delicate work like attaching electrodes or making small adjustments. The hand torch has less heat so it’s ideal for small, delicate corrections.

In my pattern practice, I’ve struggled with making U bends without getting kinking on the inside. I discovered that I was twisting the glass coming out of the fire. It would look great when I came out of the fire but by the time I got it to the pattern on the work bench, it would kink. After some focused practice I figured out that I was twisting the glass so I spent practice time breaking that habit.

Then I discovered I was under heating the glass. I started under heating because when the glass is hot enough it was too easy to accidentally stretch the glass. By under heating I eliminated the stretching but then I got kinks because the glass wasn’t hot enough.

Once I started getting the glass hot enough, I struggled with overinflation. Part of the process of bending is having a blow hose attached so you can inflate the glass when it gets hot to keep it from collapsing.
There is no scientific process to this. It’s just hours of practice and learning to read the glass.

Then there is the mind. If you over concentrate on the bend you loose it. If you don’t focus you loose it so you have to find the balance. Listening to music while bending helps but some times I start dancing and get distracted..

Currently I’m practicing a pattern and attempting to bend to it. I’ve spent a month or so trying to get the hang of it. I’m in the studio two to three days a week and each week it gets better but bending to pattern is so different. Tonight I began to think—why am I doing this. No one will appreciate how much harder this is for me than the complex free form bends I do. But I am keeping at it. It looks like a simple pattern but it’s really challenging.
After another month of practice and demos by the master, I had success. The bends went the way they were supposed to and the tube was smooth—no crunches and on pattern. Amazing.
Linda Sue Price, Never Say Never (work in progress)
Linda's current exhibition at TAG, Hitting the Pause Button, runs through Saturday, May 14. 
She will be part of an Artist Panel Discussion with Alison Lowe Platt and Dan Janotta on Saturday, May 7, 3pm.

If you have any question you'd like to ask Linda, leave them below in the comments.
Linda Sue Price, Question, Listen, Think, Neon, 15 x 15" x 10"

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