What is Have Kiln Will Travel?

What is Have Kiln Will Travel?

Have Kiln Will Travel (HKWT) is a fully equipped traveling fused glass studio. Six small kilns are brought on site to teach glass fusing along with a large selection of art glass, and all of the necessary tools. It is the only traveling glass studio in the United States servicing art centers and community education programs.

HKWT is truly a unique opportunity and an ongoing experiment in community education. HKWT teaches the basics, gives you the opportunity to watch your creations come alive in the kiln, and for the jewelry classes you take your works of art home that day.

When Are Events
/Classes - Use the calendar below for a complete listing of classes and their locations.

Detailed Class Information - Use the "Search Terms" section in the lower left column to find detailed blog posts regarding what is taught and what is made in the classes. There are also class specific descriptions found at the "Information Links" section in the left hand column of this blog.

Where To Register For Classes - Use the "Register For Classes" section for links to the art center or community education program that you are interested in.

Fund-Raising Events
- In addition to classes the HKWT concept can be used to raise money for your favorite charitable or nonprofit organization. Use the "Information Links" section to obtain a document with detailed information on hosting a HKWT event.

Blog Archive - Look through the blog (lower left column) for more information on projects.

Calendar Of Events & Classes

----- Have Kiln Will Travel Event Calendar ------ Registration Links Are Below Left of Calendar

Monday, March 28, 2011

Samples of some of the best projects this year

It has been a little over two years that I've been traveling the Twin Cities greater metro toting around my little kilns teaching glass fusing, but mostly having fun. It has been very encouraging and satisfying to receive so many heart felt thanks from and comments from students regarding their glass fusing experience. There have been many supportive community education staffers too. Now we look back and laugh at some of their first reactions to my class proposals... "You want to bring what?... kilns to our school... gee I don't know..?"

In many ways I've learned  more about myself, art, and teaching than my students may have learned about glass.And because of this there are no regrets that I took this two year hiatus from the IT world. The most important lesson learned was where creative activities fit into my life, and what kind of balance is necessary for me.

My wife and I are moving to her home state of Iowa in a few months, and my teaching adventures will end in June. I've been looking over some of the work created by my students over the years, and will outline some if it in this final post.

First off there is the star of the show my little Jen Ken Fuse Box. You can see the little glass view port on the top lid (with handles). Everyone would stand around to watch their glass become art. You do this only once though. It is like watching paint dry until the magic temperature of 1500 is reached, then the fun happens fairly quickly.I would bring up to seven of these to class and we would have multiple firings in a six hour period. Most students go home with more value in their in hands then they paid for the class, not to mention the fun they had.

This little number wins the award for best design. I tack fused this so that all of the pieces melted just a bit. It was kiln fired just enough to round and soften all the edges while remaining a distinct relief on the surface. If I'm remembering correctly it took the student around an hour to design it. More typically students just have fun melting glass and almost randomly arranging glass bits. They choose colors, shapes, sizes, patterns, and textures from the vast array of glass I bring. Few however actually design objects like this. The dragonfly is sitting on ceramic fiber paper that lines the kiln shelf to prevent the glass from sticking to the shelf (the pinkish area on the left).

Here we have the infamous Italian Millefiori glass. Infamous, because it is the only non Bullseye glass I bring to class and it cannot be mixed with any other glass. Students are always trying to sneak a piece into their projects. Occasionally, I miss what they are doing and the project is fired and subsequently cracks and falls apart when cooled, because Murano and Bullseye glasses are technically different kinds of glass. In the case above the student made a bracelet just using millefiori which is one of many projects that can be completed during the class.

Here you see dichroic (aka glitzy) glass buttons on top of a glass weaving project. Glass weaving is part of a six week class. The buttons however can be made during a one day class. I bring a large section of  jewelry 'findings', that is, the hardware parts for objects which can be made during the class. Some of the findings are for: belt buckles, wine stoppers, money clips, tie clasps, pendants, earrings, and much more.

The above three pictures show several stages of making a weaving project. (Other examples are shown in earlier posts).The image to the left shows the mold which bends the glass rods in the kiln. The bottom image shows the rods after they are bent and lined up in opposing up/down patterns, creating the space for weaving. The image to the right shows the weaving process where the yellow rods are being woven through the bent red rods.

Another interesting project was this three tiered fountain. You can see the small pump on the bottom and the water gurgling through a center tube going through the two upper tiers. This was the largest and most costly project attempted. In my longer courses I allow students to make whatever they want after they get a feel for the basics. This can lead both teacher and student down paths with a lot of surprises. I typically can see from the start how a proposed project can be accomplished, but as always, the devil is in the details.

When you start working on larger projects glass shows its true nature as a medium not for those who need instant gratification. This project took many week past the six allocated to it at the Bloomington Art Center. The project was completed at my studio after many more weeks of testing, redesign, and practice firings. When a project is completed, it is often really only the prototype. Having been through the process so many technical and design improvements are realized which could make the next effort so much better.... but for me personally (at several hundred dollars each, and many more hours invested), a second effort is seldom attempted. I'm usually more inclined to be off doing new things and facing new challenges instead of repeating the past.

The image directly above shows the glass layout for the bottom bowl of the fountain. A 12 inch ruler is to the left for scale. About 1lb of glass frit (glass bits) was spread out on a bottom clear sheet of glass cut in a 17 inch diameter circle. Some larger glass pieces were added for variation. This was fired into a flat disk/plate, then put into a large bowl mold and fired a second time to slump it into the bowl shape which forms the bottom of the fountain. The two top tiers were done in the same manner (minus the slump firing) and holes cut into them for the water tube to go through. The tiers are held apart by short glass columns which are made by firing a lot of frit into an elongated square mold, then cut to the proper length on a glass saw.

I'd like to close out this post with the image above which expresses for me the simple beauty of glass. It is a closeup shot of a collection of bowls done by a student as a practice for a final project. The reflective surface and taffy-like appearance is the epitome of eye candy. I often walk about during a class murmuring in refrain ... Glass is beautiful. It is impossible to make it look bad. Have fun. Play with it. Enjoy the colors and textures. There are no rules.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Class Ideas & Help Guides

For those signed up for my classes or thinking they want to... please see the list of Guides and Ideas in the left column.

Look forward to seeing you in class!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fused Glass Wind Chime Class @ Eden Prairie Art Center

I often learn as much in my classes as the students do. When there are hundreds of colors, shapes, textures and other additives you literally could never do all the combinations yourself. Then of course there is your personal preferences which would limit you to what YOU like. I get a chance to see so many combinations that I would never try myself.

Doing these little color and shape studies is one the best techniques to learn what particular glass combinations do. Glass changes shape, color, and texture when heated. Consequently, the end result is very often not what you would expect. It takes years, after seeing a lot of projects done, to be able to reliably predict what will occur with particular combinations. By doing a whole series of small studies you can significantly reduce your learning curve.

I always take a picture before and after firing as a reliable record of what was done. Your memory really isn't good enough. In the closeup below you can see some of the glass elements the students used.

I bring a lot of choices to the class including: 100 samples of frit and powder, mica dust and chips, glass shards, rods, stringer, over 50 differ colored sheets and at least 20 different types of iridescent glass in black and clear.

All of the glass in the pictures are individual chimes for the wind chime they will make. There are few rules. You really just put combinations of glass together that you find pleasing. The size and shape of each chime will make a unique sound when struck by the other chimes, resulting in a cacoffiny of ringing.

In each class I also learn a few things to fine tune future classes. This time I realized that the little metal loops used to hang the glass needs to be fused into a small glass strip by me before class. This will enable a student to add a prefused loop to each chime simplifying that step. It was too confusing and tedious for the students to put the hanging loops in place themselves.

I also learned that students can optionally make between 10 and 14 chimes. They don't have to make 14 just because there are 14 holes in the metal support bar. As you can see in the picture to the right 12 chimes is fine. They are close enough to each other to perform their clanging best. Eight chimes would probably be OK too.

In my last class each student made 14 chimes and I think that was too many. But options are always good. Now with 14 they can choose to keep a few as backups in case the chime meets a tornado!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scott County Art Craw - Oct 9th

I'll be participating in the first ever Scott County Art Crawl. Read all about it and see some of the work at

Come by for a feast for the eyes, mind and tummy... I'll have great beer, wine and hors d'oeuvres.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Glass Weaving @ Bloomington Art Center

These are small 5 by 5 inch bowls made using the glass weaving approach. This is a great project that teaches the basics of glass cutting. In this case learning to cut exact strips is pretty basic, but can be really intimidating to the beginner. After all, how many people have experience cutting a whole series of exact 10 inch by 1/2 inch strips?

It is a great sense of accomplishment when building your confidence to cut glass to exacting measures. In one of my classes one person was seriously struggling and gave up at one point. After some encouragement and watching others having success she was determined to do it. I watched her carefully, and caught her mistake in the process, then before you knew it she exclaimed "I got it"!... and I was relieved she did.

Glass weaving is a bit of a trick. The Warp is created by placing glass strips on a mold that is nothing but a series of 'hills' and 'troughs'. When you turn the heat on in the kiln the glass slumps (bends) down into the troughs, and the glass strips are bend into a series of  "S" or sine wave shapes. The Weft is simply straight pieces of glass that you slip between the hills and valleys of the warp. After 'weaving' straight strips through all of the warp strips you then place the assembly back into the kiln to fuse it all together.

It is a bit of technical curiosity that many students find gratifying on multiple levels. For one, they learn the trick, secondly they learn to cut class, and lastly they begin to see the design potential of altering the colors and thicknesses of the weave patterns just as a cloth weaver would.

If you want to see glass weaving gone mad just take a look at the site by  Eric & Marrlow. This is one great example of a good idea taken to new heights.

I will be teaching glass weaving both at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center and at the Bloomington Art Center this fall.

Fossil Flora : Letting Nature Speak For Herself

I've been intrigued by some recent activity in the glass fusing world of people incorporating natural objects like plants into their fusing projects. The image above was my first attempt and I was pleased with the simplicity and the delicate look of the results.Of course fossils don't come in color, but if they did they might look like these images.

So far I don't offer making fossil flora in any of my classes, but the process is simple enough so I will probably incorporate it soon. This project also uses glass paste (see prior blog posts), but this time the paste is created by sifting multiple layers of powder onto a plant.Between each sifting layer you spray the plant with just enough hair spray to wet the powder but not wash it away. With each subsequent layer the powders become thicker, and with each layer you should add different colors, tints and tones to create a complex naturalistic mixture.

What is really interesting is that the ash of the actual plant is left behind as a ghost image. You can rub it off to reveal more color or leave it.

I started experimenting with this process because I may use it in my fine art powder painting series. Maybe I'll let nature speak for herself instead of me faking it by drawing in foliage.

Drawing with Glass: Fused Glass Flower Vase

This series of images show the steps in decorating the front panel of the flower vase project using glass paste. This process is only one of many ways to decorate the front of your vase. Some may  not like this approach and may opt for other methods some of which I will show in future blog posts.

If you look closely you a piece of clear glass and been seen coving the design to the left. It is shaped like a pocket and is more pronounced in the second image where the design has been traced onto the glass with black glass paste.

The tracing process can be done in just a few minutes and does not have to be exact, because it will be partly covered in later steps. A few posts back I explained how the paste was made. For this project only the outline cartoon is created with the paste mixture and applied using a squeeze bottle. If I had all of my colors ready to go in bottles, then it would be simple to fill in the design with whatever color I wanted directly from the bottles. However, there are advantages to using straight powders instead such as ease of application, ability to mix colors, and create gradations, tints and tones.

In the third image all of the base colors have been applied using powders and a very small sifter.You can see now that some of the outline is beginning to be covered. This not only narrows the lines, but also helps tie the powder to the wet paste so that during firing they don't separate.

In the fourth image the powder is now turned to paste by applying glue through another squeeze bottle. This enables packing the powder to increase its density/opacity. The outline is now considerably thinner and the colors are fully integrated with the outline.

You can see in the green I applied two colors of green. The base layer may or may not show through depending on how thickly you apply the final layer. It helps in color blending and creating rich color interactions if you use multiple colors on both the base layer and the final layer.

One drawback however is that some colors do not mix well resulting is brown instead of a color you see when you mix the powders. This occurs mostly when you mix warm and cold colors like yellow some blues. If you want green, then you should use green powder, and then use white or black to create shades and tints, or, use other greens in combination to create a rich palette of greens.

The process including this step takes around fifteen to thirty minutes depending on the complexity of your design.

In the final image a top layer of colors has been added and pressed into the paste. Some #2 frit was randomly applied and now the 'pocket' is ready for fusing onto the back of the vase creating the pocket vase.