Accumulating small bits and scraps of art glass is inevitable but nothing ever goes to waste. For this project I made a few pot-melts, AKA aperture pours, which is tossing glass scrap into a terracotta flowerpot and heating until it dribbles out the bottom of the pot. There are ways and means of trying to control the outcome of the design but mostly you won’t know until post-firing.

I’ll post more about pot-melts later but this was an especially interesting one. My good friend, Nicki sent me a large batch of pink tiles she had made for the annual magless event. These were left-overs and I was using them for a separate fund-raising event.

The pink tile is shown in the middle – I used maybe 20. You can see the melted glass residue in the terracotta pot bottom post-fire.

This is a better photo of the result. I could not have planned or predicted this – it’s really pretty!

More close-ups of other pot-melts…

This  cranberry pink bowl is grouped with the pot-melts but is actually called a ‘high fire’. Made by piling select scrap in a flat terracotta saucer; when allowed to melt and spread out within that confined area, it becomes a round flat disc. The edges of this are a bit irregular but I left it that way – it has character.

As time was approaching for the delivery dead-line I made a few more simple two-layer bowls using Bullseye glass streaky glass. It comes in sheets of white and clear; black and clear and french vanilla and clear. By pairing a circle cut from each of these with a contrasting base it was a fast way to make a pretty and functional bowl. I failed to get a good picture of these here is a hint.

Thank you to Mary Farina, a Facebook friend who saw my posts on the project and volunteered to send this beautiful bowl. This will be placed in the Silent Auction and will fly out the door! Find Mary at

by Mary Farina at Grateful Glass

Thank you for those that came in to make a bowl and more. Many people contacted me but were unable to attend the scheduled times. I still appreciate that you tried. Christy K.  made the kiln-carved blue bowl with clouds and spirals. She escaped before I could take her photo.

This is Bonnie wondering if her design needs another vitrigraph stringer for her perfect design; after she had already mastered the aloe gel technique. Thank you Bonnie for driving to far to join us. It was a pleasure having you.

Then there is Brandy – potter, photographer, and all-round good spirit. Brandy is a do-er and she proved that in the studio – literally. She made great bowls but also cleaned up behind us; washed and ground glass, cleaned, signed and photographed the bowls. She is credited with a portion of the photos posted. Find Brandy here.

By the way, she has a bit of an owl fetish…

See you at Jacoby Arts Center on Saturday November 3rd for the Empty Bowls project benefiting Crisis Food Center.  Faye & Friends


As we made more fused glass blanks, it was clear we did not have sufficient molds to shape them into bowl forms at the end. I was able to quickly purchase and receive six from Laurie Spray – maker of the ‘bottomless’ mold. The design makes for a nicely shaped bowl but a solid flat footing as it touches the kiln shelf. It took a few firings before finding the right timing and temperature.

Some bowls were harmed in the testing of these molds! Yes, I messed up a few; making them a little wonkity at the rim, or slight wobble at the base.

We experimented with kiln-carving using cut-outs of fiber paper. The cut-outs were both freehand and using commercial paper punches.  Once the paper is laid on the kiln shelf, two layers of transparent glass are full-fused over the top. The glass becomes crisply embossed with the paper design. Brandy and Christy came up with some great designs and I regret not taking photos of the flat blanks. While attempting to slump them into shape, multiple problems arose…. I used too much heat and the glass became cloudy with prolonged contact with the ceramic mold. A few simply slumped into the mold unevenly and look a bit like a scoop. The designs are still visible and the bowls are functional; I just regret ruining their pretty bowls.

Brandy had fun with vitrigraph glass stringers over clear glass…

One of my favorite colors of Bullseye glass is blended with shades of green, including a sparkly aventurine. Having only a small amount on-hand, I made two bowls but fusing to a larger background base. No, don’t go whacking your glass with a hammer willy-nilly. Mark a spot with a Sharpie just off-center of the middle. Score some lines beginning at that mark, outward to the edges. When you tap with the hammer, your scores will open up. I usually cover with a sheet of paper to prevent the jagged bits from flying out of position. These were fired to a texture fuse.

The same firing method was used for the flower bowls – the fusing process shortened so the ‘petals’ are visible. No hammers were used! These were carefully measured and scored into sections. I found I could get fast and accurate lines by using my color wheel with 12-sections to measure against. Great for accuracy in placing clock numbers.

I stayed with the flower theme a bit to play with reactivity –  a chemical reaction between certain colors resulting in a brown/black/gray line where two pieces are fused. I choose french vanilla and teal; vanilla has sulfur and teal contains copper. The copper-sulfate reaction made a nice brown lining each petal.

The semi-hidden work in top right of photo shows reaction with the french vanilla and cyan squares. The strips are actually turquoise glass stringers. Turquoise and cyan are copper-bearing glasses, like teal.

These square bowls are a departure from the regular bowl slumping. These were made prior to our project starting and have been just waiting for the best home. A simple design of brown sections are textured fired to a black base. The mold was handmade cutting a square hole in a section of fiberboard; the glass was heated until it dropped through the hole and touched the kiln shelf. This same square box shape can be altered with fiber paper to change the rim, and I have made many politically incorrect ashtrays using this method.

Stay tuned for Part 3… potmelts!


In a few weeks – Saturday, November 3rd – Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, Illinois will be hosting an Empty Bowls event to support the Crisis Food Center, also in Alton. Last year we attended and were treated to delicious soups and bread from local restaurants. Local artists contribute to a silent auction, as well as making the bowls to filled with soup. On arrival we purchased a bowl to later be filled with our lunch. It was a treat to see a table full of pottery wares made by hand by the artisans.

I like pottery and ceramics, and value those that have the skill and vision to create it. My cabinets hold treasured pieces from my old home near Jugtown pottery in North Carolina; I have bowls, mugs, and dishes made locally which I use daily. As much as I like pottery, I LOVE glass.

Seemed to me that table full of earthy glazed pottery bowls would be complimented by some shiny glass. No one invited me to participate; neither did they reject me when I said “I’m making bowls for you.” So the adventure began…

I sent up a call for artists to join me in the studio to ‘play in the glass’ and found a few takers. Brandace Cloud (a potter!) stepped up on a weekly basis and quickly picked up on the process. Bonnie and Christie also found a day to work. We used the project as an opportunity to experiment with various processes. Some worked – some didn’t. That’s the way of glass. 🙂

We started simple – with liquid paints we made of glass powder, distilled water and aloe vera gel. These were applied to a clear base of Tekta glass – the clear made it easy to see a hand-drawn pattern below the glass. It takes a long time for the aloe mixture to dry so they sat for a day and were then coated with a layer of clear glass powder.

Most of the glass powders on-hand are transparent which made the glass paint appear streaky and thin in areas. It was fun and easy, resulting in a light-weight functional piece. I would like to attempt this with opaque powders.

Brandace had a different vision. Her work took a bit longer using small bits of glass on the clear base. These were fired to a texture fuse, leaving them with more dimension; also a bit weightier in the hand.  The bowl on the right is a combination of bits plus aloe gel paint. It looks a design by a confectioner – delicate and tasty.

In addition to painting with aloe, Bonnie was attracted to the big bins of hand-pulled stringer (vitrigraphs). Her keen eye found a shaped bit appearing moose-like. We couldn’t figure out a way to overlay it and still keep the shape.

More to follow in part 2!

Kathryn Nahorski was awarded with the Visionary Leadership in the Arts Award at this year’s Arts and Champagne gala held on September 2012 at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, Illinois. She has served in many capacities at JAC including; eight years on the board of directors (formerly known as Madison County Arts Council); five years as the first executive director; then two more years as Assistant Director of Education for the Jacoby Art Center.

I was proud to be asked to create something unique and special to honor Ms. Nahorski.


To support Jacoby Arts Center, local artists donate art to be auctioned off in a ‘silent auction’ during the Arts & Champagne event.

This year’s contribution was one of my favorite “nests”. An over-sized shallow form developed with vitrigraphs – varying shades of brown and ivory glass heated to molten,  then stretched and curled to become the nest’s twigs. The eggs are glowing dichroic glass.