Photographs by Debra Todd
A visit to Babs Kall’s studio is quite an eye-opener… who knew there were so many techniques to working with glass. Her enthusiasm for her art is contagious, here is her story.
Although I am a graphic artist by trade, creating layouts for printed material such as magazines, books, logos and creating websites, glass is my passion. There are so many directions to go with glass art that I had to somewhat narrow down the methods that I use. I am always experimenting and have been fortunate to take classes from some of the best artists in the field. Primarily I work with a technique called “Fused Glass” which involves the use of a kiln to heat the glass in various ways.
Color, light and magic
Colored glass that is specifically tested to react to heat at the same rate is the material of choice. It comes in many forms, large 24″ x 30″ sheets, long thin stringers, flakes, different grit of crushed glass and powdered.
Basically, to create a piece, the first step is to select and cut the glass and assemble the pieces, kind of like creating a jig-saw puzzle. Then the pieces are fused for about 13 hours depending on the amount of texture that I want to achieve.The determined temperature raises and cools at a slow, controlled speed, usually up to about 1520°. Once cooled down to room temperature the now solid glass is placed on the chosen mold and the heating process begins again, at a slightly different rate, so that the glass conforms to the mold’s shape.
Sometimes I combine the glass with other materials such as copper foil or brass screen.For an interesting effect,I have also incorporated organics such as plants from my yard for a glass impression that almost seems fossilized.
Achieving diverse end results come from different processes
How about melting pieces of glass in an elevated clay pot and allowing it to flow into a steel form causing a rambling, candly-like effect or using scraps of glass in custom molds to cast thick shapes? You can even rake through molten glass in the kiln for a totally blended outcome. Powdered glass can be sifted into images that are like painting with light—every little spec of glass is faceted and light bounces radiantly from each one of them. Powders can even be suspended in a bonding agent that will make the glass like paint, it can be brushed or stamped onto to sheets of glass then fired in the kiln.
Recently, I have been experimenting with recycled glass from windows or shelves with some interesting and nice results that I intend to incorporate with wood to make tables, lamps and outdoor garden elements.
Not all of the artwork I do is fused. I have been creating garden sculputures from vintage glass. Mosaics are another nonfused glass art avenue. I have done some architectural pieces such as the front step of my studio using fused glass components to create the image. Sometimes I do glass-on- glass mosaics and at times I incorporate fused glass components with interesting broken bits of china with a chunky, eclectic result.
I have also introduced a product line that is a whimsical version of a dog or cat. I use provided photos of a beloved pet and create a likeness that stands about 6″ high.
There are so many ways I enjoy the expression of glass and I just love to share it. If you have a special item in mind for yourself, need a gift, or if you are just curious and would like to see the process, feel free to contact me at email@example.com or visit my website artglassbybabs.com. If you are in the Keys, stop by the Redbone Gallery in Islamorada to see some of my sea- oriented glasswork.