I got my copy of the Glass Art Magazine the other day. As usual, I sat down to read it cover to cover - there are always great articles in the mag. Anyways, I'm already an admirer of Milon Townsend's work and his ability to make a good living from his art - so when one of the articles interviewed him, I was interested in what he had to say. One of the things he said was that at the beginning of his career in glass, he was completely enamoured of the physical properties of the glass and that was what he focused on for a number of years. This struck me because it's exactly what I've been focused on - I've spent lots of time experimenting and learning the behavior and characteristics of each color of soft glass - i.e., black glass is "stiffer" than coral colored glass - when heated to a specific color, it will do this or that. I rarely use any tools to shape basic forms, rather, I choose the right color for the piece and work with heat and gravity to coax the glass into flowing into a shape rather than tooling it. But I wouldn't know how to use the heat and gravity if I hadn't spent a great deal of time learning and understanding what each color can do. Most of the glass artists and crafters I talk to aren't focused on that aspect of the glass. It was a revelation to see such an esteemed glass artist talk about that! Milon went on to explain that he's moved beyond that but that first step was a development of a vocabulary, a language to create in glass that he uses in his current work.
My good friend keeps telling me that I'm a sculptor and what is in my head to create is certainly in that direction. I'm still evolving but it is clear to me that the work I have done in understanding the characteristics of the glass is and will be invaluable in the pieces I create in the future.