Koi Fish in Seaweed Sculpture by Dori and Jim Settles
Koi Fish in Seaweed
Hand-forged steel base by Jim Settles
12 x 10 inches

Pâte de Verre

Pâte de Verre is definitely my favorite sculptural technique.  The end result is often an illusion of fragility. I am involved in every process, with my hands in the clay, the plaster and the glass. The challenge is to choose the colors that will create the effect I am looking for, and then, to choose the right firing temperature to achieve the finished results.

I use the geodes and similar small shapes to explore these variations before working on more significant pieces.

If you are unfamiliar with Pâte de Verre, it is a French phrase for glass paste. There are multiple techniques that have been used throughout history, and developed in recent years. The basic concept is that finely ground glass is mixed with water to create a paste and then packed into a mold. The process creates glass that ranges from opaque to translucent, and matte to glossy. 
I create the models for my pieces using clay. A plaster mix is poured over the clay, and once set, I remove the clay and clean the mold. At this point I apply a mix of dry and paste glass which is then fired in the kiln.

Jan's Quilt in Aqua
Copper and steel stand by Jim Settles
20 x 12 inches

Cast Glass

The very first glass casting class I took was titled “The Fabric of Glass”, instructed by glass artist, Lisa Becker. At this time, I had only been lampworking and fusing glass, and as a fiber artist, I was intrigued by the title and description. After the weekend, I was hooked and knew that creating glass quilts would be magical.

Little did I know that it wasn’t just quilts that would draw me in. Soon I was casting handmade objects as well as objects from life. I use both clay models and lost wax casting depending on the object and my goals.

I have a video of the glass quilt process if you are interested in learning more.  Click here to watch the video.

Sloth by Dori Settles
Hand-forged steel base by Jim Settles
24 x 22 inches

Bas Relief

I recently started exploring reverse carving to create Bas Relief imagery in glass. Glass creates a unique response to the relief work because of how the light gets caught in the various depths and textures.

I start by pouring a thick block of plaster, and as it sets up, I lightly sketch the design. From there, I work on digging out various depths to achieve the dimensions of the image, and finish with carving detail work with wax and dental tools.

Once the plaster is set, I set it in a slightly open, warm kiln to dry overnight. The next day I place the sheet of salvaged glass on the plaster, and then to add color, sift vitreous enamel on the back, and use paint brushes to define the color details. The work is then fired at the low end of fusing temperatures and held for some time to allow the glass to soften and fill in the spaces in the mold.

The plaster has limited reuse, and I may be able to achieve another one or two more pieces before it has deteriorated too much.