Head of the glass


POSTED: Friday, February 13, 2009

The best part about Jane Raissle's chosen art form? If she doesn't like the results, she can put the glass back in the kiln, melt it down and start again.




The process

        » Selected colors of glass are cut, weighed and stacked in a flower pot, which is placed over a slanted shelf inside the kiln, at left. Heated to approximately 1,650 degree for 90 minutes, the glass melts and flows through a hole down the shelf. The kiln is slowly cooled to room temperature and the glass cools with it.

» A tile saw is used to cut the glass into focal strips.


» The glass is layered to form the shape of a finished plate. These layers are fully fused (upside down) in the kiln at 1,470 degrees, then cooled, flipped over and fired again at 1,460 degrees. Rough edges are smoothed and shaped on a belt sander, then the tiles are fired again at 1,350 degrees to polish the edges.


» Finished tiles are fired a final time at 1,150 degrees to create the final shape of the plate. Various molds are used for shaping.


“;You can change your mind even after it's been fired,”; she said.

Raissle's keepers have earned her national recognition. Eight of her glasswork place settings are part of the five-week “;Dinnerworks”; exhibit at the Louisville Visual Art Association in Kentucky, on display through March 1. Only 14 artists nationwide were invited to contribute work to the annual show.

The dinnerware is displayed on a formal table designed by a Louisville artist and architectural team and featured in a display that combines fine art with everyday objects.

“;I enjoy making things that people can use and enjoy,”; Raissle said. “;I do mostly functional work, lots of bowls and plates.”; Raissle also creates windows, vases and even made a sink for a residential home on the Big Island.

Raissle majored in education and works as a reading specialist. But she recalls being attracted to glassworks as a 10-year-old when visiting Chicago museums with her family. “;I was drawn to Tiffany's work - the lamps and the large Wisteria windows.”;

It wasn't until many years later that she was able to start working in the art form, beginning with a stained-glass class taken for relaxation. There she was introduced to kiln work. “;It's fun to shape projects, not just work flat,”; she said. “;The 3-D had lots more appeal.”;

It's definitely messy work, which Raissle does in her home studio in Kailua. A sandblaster, tile saw, wet belt grinder and a lap wheel are just a few of the tools needed to create gallery-quality work.

Raissle likes to see movement in her pieces, so much of her work is created by melting glass through wire mesh suspended in the kiln, or by having the glass drip through a flower pot.

Once cooled, portions of glass are selected, cut and smoothed to become the focal points of her pieces. Additional glass strips are added as the piece is assembled. Raissle tries to incorporate something transparent into each piece so that her projects are not confused with ceramics. “;It's kind of like the effect of mixing white with paint.”;

Multiple firings in the kiln (generally five or more of approximately 24 hours each) fuse, polish and shape the final work, she explained.

“;Sometimes pre-designed thoughts are in my head. Projects start with a concept, but can definitely morph into something else.”;


Raissle's pieces can be found at the Bethel Street Gallery or online at http://www.janeraissleglass.com. For information on the Kentucky show, visit www.louisvillevisualart.org/dinnerworks.html.