"Dumbing down" of glass art? - WarmGlass.com

"Dumbing down" of glass art?

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Valerie Adams
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"Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Valerie Adams » Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:35 pm

Was talking to a friend recently who owns a glass studio which is open to the public. While she used to bring in quality instructors and fill classes, now the glass is being treated more like the 'paint your own pottery' places are set up. She's got precut components and scrap glass and base glass; customers come in and just assemble their piece and pick it up after it's fired. Naturally, the pieces look fairly amateur.

I also participate (mostly in a voyeuristic way, as I realize I can't correct the entire internet!) in a few FB glass groups. What has really struck me over the last few years is how many 'artists' are moving toward things like decals, molds, or just random mesh/pot/screen melts. People request help in discovering why they're blowing huge holes in their work but then three-quarters of the comments rave about how great all those holes look (one of my biggest pet peeves is trying to turn a flaw into a benefit). :roll: They ignore the most basic advice of testing, note taking, learning about their kilns, etc. It's enough to make me crazy, which is why I seldom comment anymore.

I was primarily self-taught when I started working with fused glass in 2001. This forum--with its real common sense--was (and is!) my go-to source for honest feedback. I feel there's integrity here and don't worry about sharing photos or information.

Because I strive to create my work with what I call Intentional Design, I'm feeling sad that so many are simply buying yet another mold and slapping on a piece of streaky glass on it and calling it done.
What do you think? Are decals, molds, etc adding to or taking away from the medium?

Yardic Glassworks
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Yardic Glassworks » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:06 pm

Facebook....The only place you can see someone asking advice on how to program their kiln, then talking about teaching a class next week....
Tim Yardic
Yardic Glassworks

Studiodunn
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Studiodunn » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:07 pm

Hey Valerie!

The fact that social media encourages the rapid exchange of ideas and information (whether accurate or not...lol) seems to create a feeding frenzy of activity around the subject of glass. There are no prerequisites to join most groups so you have gifted artists along side hobbyists. The ease with which you can share photos and get instant feedback adds to the frenzy. But it's a powerful tool for those who ARE looking to improve their skills, develop their gifts or connect with other like minded folk. I have gleaned helpful nuggets of wisdom along the way. It is definitely a more superficial and scratch-the-surface way of communicating with not much depth. I find myself coming back to this forum as well in search of more depth (and integrity)...

On FB, I haven't noticed many of the conversations (if any) hitting on important subjects like Color Theory or Elements of Design, etc (at least the few groups I have lurked in). I have noticed many who have a technical grasp of working with glass, but they hit all the wrong notes in their color choices. No harmony. No depth or intentional design...Reminds me of Harvey Littleton's famous quote, "Technique is cheap." It sure bloody it. Most folks are failing to spend time investing time understanding the fundamentals. BUT...they are having fun along the way. God bless them!

I recently got plugged in teaching glass at a small, local art school. My kids and I have taken plenty of classes there over the years, and still do. Interestingly they have had a huge amount of interest and success with paint along parties. They will have classes of up to 50 students at a time. It's bringing more people to try their hand at creating. Most are viewing it as a fun night out experience. I do see value in that, even if one might view it as a dumbing down. It's helping pay the bills at her studio at a time when she wasn't certain she could keep their doors open much longer.

I would keep rambling if I didn't have to run to a parent teacher conference...LOL Thank you for posing the question and getting my wheels turning.
“I would rather die than hate you.”
- Martin Luther King

Morganica
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Morganica » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:55 pm

I think it depends on your definition of "important." And FB's certainly not the only place it happens. ;-)

My personal taste says that a texture mold/potmelt/glassboil/stripplate/vitrograph cane/whatever is merely a component that I might incorporate into my work, not a finished work itself. And that I'd rather people look at my work instead of seeing all the steps or products I took to get there.

But that's my personal taste. My personal taste is obviously going to inform my perception of other people's glass...but that sure as heck doesn't make it right. Lots of people want to try glass and it might take years before they become curious enough, or retired enough or {fill in the blank} enough to go beyond paint-your-plate. There's a point at which they start recognizing the same molds/decals/whatevers in other peoples' booths* and start trying to find a voice.

When they do, I think we need to make sure they know where the resources are, and help them grow.

Most never will get any deeper, though, and I'm OK with that. Thing is, there are a lot more of them than of us, and--like Studiodunn's friend--they keep the doors open in a lot of glass stores. It irritates the heck out of me when they decide to sell or teach without a good grasp of the fundamentals...but that's been a chronic problem since the first cave paintings.

-------------------------

*As a corollary, I personally wouldn't claim anything as my own work--especially not for exhibit or sale--if my primary contribution was simply a choice of colors/glasses in someone else's design. But I don't think that's what's being discussed here.
Cynthia Morgan
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Suzette A
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Suzette A » Fri Nov 07, 2014 3:57 pm

it might take years before they become curious enough, or retired enough or {fill in the blank} enough to go beyond paint-your-plate. There's a point at which they start recognizing the same molds/decals/whatevers in other peoples' booths* and start trying to find a voice.


Absolutely! Im 47 but only just now able to treat art from a more regective place. Ive been creating art since I was small but honestly, the biggest hold back for me has been emotional maturity.

When I was younger there were many emotional distractions. The most pervasive is just getting over criticism. That sounds odd at 47. One should learn that early. But I didnt have the financial means for classes and I still dont, my exposure to art has been limited so its always seemed very large.

Thats where the emotional maturity come in. I had to grow up to see art as something thst pleases me, nit conforms to others interpretation.

But before that I just wanted to do something others would like. Fear is a powerful demotivator. Anyway I did a lot of easy techniques in my younger years simply because I could get praise without fear.

Now I no longer want praise its much easier to persue art fundamentals and theory. But it is hard to decide what I want to do next!

JestersBaubles
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby JestersBaubles » Fri Nov 07, 2014 5:14 pm

I've nearly been burned at the stake for making comments on FB groups that I should probably keep to myself:

* I've used a few decals and they just seem like cheating.
* I love Fusers Reserve and Opal Art, but I won't just cut a piece and slump it in a mold.
* Jewelry is boring :twisted:
* I find it interesting how many people do not own kilns and have someone else fire their work (I believe my comment was something along the lines of cutting and assembling glass is the easy part. The skill comes in understanding how glass behaves in a kiln and getting your firing schedules just right). When I suggested that perhaps that was the difference between a hobbyist and an artist, things really got ugly.

And while I haven't said it yet:

* "hey! this piece totally flopped so now it's going to be a fabulous pot melt bowl" is not a design strategy.
* For goodness sakes, could you clean up those edges?
* What should you do? Put the ugly thing in the trash.
* You've had 10 people tell you what the problem is and how to solve it -- why do you continue to choose to ignore their advice and the results of your experimentation?

(Sorry, it must be the cheesecake I just consumed...).

I have read and read, and taken classes, and experimented and learned, and I do try to share my knowledge where I can. I am by no means an accomplished glass artist. I have a long way to go in finding my particular voice and style, but with any luck I will get there some day. I do feel like there has been a general "dumbing down", but hey, ya'll let me in :mrgreen:

Dana W.

JanG
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby JanG » Fri Nov 07, 2014 7:41 pm

I really wish the FB people could read these comments. It's just sad what's going on over there. So much misinformation is being taken as gospel from people who have no clue what they are doing. And it's really scary that they are selling this stuff and have no clue how to even do a proper anneal. They are buying theses big kilns and have no clue how to write a program so all they use are the canned ones that came with the controller. And there is so little finishing on the pieces it's cut some glass throw it in, put it in a fancy mold and call it perfect and get lots of how beautiful comments from others that have no clue. Ok off my soapbox now.

Mike Jordan
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Mike Jordan » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:54 am

You guys are looking at it all wrong... there is nothing wrong with mis-information. If all of the people that give out and listen to mis-information stay in one place, then they won't be bothering and completing with those that know what they are doing and are trying to make money or make a name for themselves. Let them keep chasing their tails and eventually those that finally wise up enough will make their break and be much more willing to listen to those willing to give good advice. So mis-information has it's place and as long as it stays in it's place, the rest of you all will be much happier. ;)

And when the art of glass gets dumbed down enough that I can do some of the things I'd really love to be able to do, I'll give it a try again. Until then, it takes more talent than I got.

Mike
It's said that inside each of us is an artist trying to get out. Well mine got out... and I haven't seen him since.

Morganica
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Morganica » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:42 am

It's no dumber on Facebook than anywhere else, it's just that Facebook has 1.2 billion users. That's quite a few more than your average glass store, so the scenario that plays out in every glass store, class, bulletin board and guild meeting I've ever been to is simply magnified a gazillion times.

My very first fusing instructor taught that you didn't need to use a release on a ceramic molds if they were especially made for slumping, and that any of the stained glasses sold in his store could be fused together in the same piece.* And I don't believe I've ever gone to the Bullseye Resource Center on a busy Saturday that I didn't hear a customer happily explaining to a newbie friend some esoteric--and wrong--notion about the mysterious practices of kilnforming. (And that's BULLSEYE, for heaven's sake, where the right answer is probably standing about 10 feet away)

There's a natural tendency to develop shorthand ways of explaining why glass behaves as it does, and that's how we get crash-cooling kilns, low-and-slow, devit zones, when-in-doubt-add-a-hold, glass "wants to be" a quarter inch, it's ok to peek after 500F, always slump into ceramic/over stainless, you can't slump and firepolish in the same firing, etc., etc. Some of it's right sometimes, most of it's wrong sometimes, and after awhile you get to know the difference. But when you're just starting out and looking for The Rules, they get passed around like holy scripture.

When they don't work...you learn or you quit. I don't think that's sad, I think it's part of the normal learning process. Like I said earlier, the tail chasers you're tsk'ing over and calling dumb are the guys who ruin enough glass to keep our suppliers in business so we can make the intelligent, well-informed art we apparently all are making. Don't despise these folks. Encourage them, help them, and keep them coming back for more. At some point, they're gonna get good enough to despise US.

----------
*Only class I ever saw where not one single student piece, in the entire 6-week course, made it out of the kiln intact. The instructor said it was because we needed a lot more practice.
Cynthia Morgan
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Judd
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Judd » Tue Nov 11, 2014 4:02 pm

1) Paint-It-Yourself pottery hasn't dumbed-down the art pottery business.
2) I have most certainly received bad advice here. I'm sure we all remember the Dennis Brady years. I was told by one of Brad Walker's former students that the glass kiln he had sold me was identical to a pottery kiln, and all I needed were more shelves so I could pack it and fire it as full as I wanted.
3) Yes, there is plenty of bad advice on Facebook.
4) The Facebook people making poorly designed or constructed glass is no different than the newbies who come here.
5) As for the principles of art and elements of design - if they're truly interested, they'll take a class.

That said, I love the Facebook groups. They are vibrant and alive, like this board once was.

Don Burt
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Don Burt » Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:27 am

I'd rather see art forms dumbed down than see them smarted up. I get it that there are people who'd like to make a living from glass art, and work hard to advance its intellectual sophistication, but its all craft to me. Just like cooking. It can be a sublime expression of the human experience, or it can be soup from a can. Just because anyone can do it at some level, everyone does do it at some level, and everyone consumes it, doesn't diminish real value of its highest accomplishments. I think the competition is good for the art form.

Don Burt
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Don Burt » Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:36 am

There's good video on You Tube of an interview with Ry Cooder from earlier this year. He mentions how hard it was for him to figure out how to play the stuff he heard and loved, because he had to obtain the record and figure out the tuning and everything all by himself. You can sense a little pang of irritation about all the videos on youtube demonstrating every guitar lick ever innovated. But it doesn't diminish my appreciation of Ry Cooder's playing now that after about thirty years I can finally play my favorites from his early vinyl records that I wore out. Thank you You Tube for dumbing it down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxICp8GZy4U

Judd
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Judd » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:45 pm

Where's that like button...?
:-)

Richard Blummer
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Richard Blummer » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:19 pm

Morganica wrote:It's no dumber on Facebook than anywhere else...
... Don't despise these folks. Encourage them, help them, and keep them coming back for more. At some point, they're gonna get good enough to despise US.


Cynthia, you have been one of my favorite personalities on this board since the moment I joined, and every post you make reinforces that opinion. From the depth of the knowledge you share, right on to your patience and complete lack of condecension. Your generosity is an inspiration. =D> =D> =D>
אָשֵׁר חַיִּים

glass-lady
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby glass-lady » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:00 pm

Multiple people in my art village (about 40 artists now, going up to maybe 60) want me to give them fusing lessons because it looks so easy...just melt a bunch of glass together. I fuse in my home studio and do mosaics (many fused parts) and soldering at the village. I told them I got started 12 years ago by first spending 4 years with Brad Walker's first book, using a little Evenheat ceramic kiln, adjusting the temperature by raising and lowering the lid and documenting results. Since then have spent a small fortune on more kilns, supplies books, classes (semesters of design and composition, drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpting, along with glass classes) and a pile of gross mistakes. My first mistake was being kind and letting a jewelry artist prepare her glass, bring it to my home studio where I provided the thin fire, programmed the kiln, and called her when everything was done. The people who want to come and fuse are not the same people who show up with me at life drawing every week, study, mess up, clean up, and start again. They don't want the expense of doing this. I now make things I know will sell, painted fish, big pebble bowls, mermaids, ornaments, and save the exciting things for the few people who like them. When I tell them I'm only at the mediocre level in fused glass, and that being at that level after only 12 years is a big achievement, they think it's a joke. What's funny is I don't think the sculptors, wood carvers (took a class in that too!), and painters have many people approach them believing they can learn how to do it well in a half a day!

Terri Stanley
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Terri Stanley » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:45 pm

Yep, I get it now! Sheesh, what a mess. I need to stay away from those bat s#!t crazy people. There really is no way to honestly help them because, so very many of them think they know it all. Or at leat it seemed that way.
But I do hope they go forth and melt lots and lots of glass. And like Cynthia said, keep our suppliers in business.
With some of the mis information over there, I hope nobody puts an eye out! :shock:
"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Herm Albright

Haydo
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Haydo » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:45 am

I was accepted to the group, checked out things that interested me as they pop up. No time to hunt for the worst offenders. I see that many are doing some amazing work which will only inspire those searching for their style amongst the group who share. There biggest advantage most likely is that clicky clubs haven't formed yet to alienate. Many posts responding to a new entry. Early days there so won't be posting,as I'm either too honest or pissed.
From this forum I've stayed true to the idea to find my own niche,I had an idea or maybe more over the years but the current one has us focused. Soul destroying for much of the time to develop and with a little more technical,well actually still a fair bit,to work out when I get home.It will have to be up to an individual to copy because I'll be sharing diddly squat. peace, haydo
Life is like a raft, so be like a rat!...Challenging being a captain type rat though, going down with each ship and all!!

Valerie Adams
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Valerie Adams » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:49 pm

"too honest to post" YES! That's exactly what I often think when I see some of the work posted :twisted:

Janet McFadyen
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Janet McFadyen » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:09 pm

Well I have the honour of being banned from FGF. I am relieved of looking and getting upset. My penalty for being dropped was posting an eBay link to the original maker of rtv mother moulds that someone else (an admin of said site) bought and was selling ceramic moulds for glass. I am honestly relieved to be gone. Cynthia your are dead on as usual. It's nice to be back checking in on wgbb
facebook artist page @ Janet McFadyen's Glass

Morganica
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Re: "Dumbing down" of glass art?

Postby Morganica » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:47 pm

Richard Blummer wrote:
Morganica wrote:It's no dumber on Facebook than anywhere else...
... Don't despise these folks. Encourage them, help them, and keep them coming back for more. At some point, they're gonna get good enough to despise US.


Cynthia, you have been one of my favorite personalities on this board since the moment I joined, and every post you make reinforces that opinion. From the depth of the knowledge you share, right on to your patience and complete lack of condecension. Your generosity is an inspiration. =D> =D> =D>

Wow, Richard. How could I possibly have missed this? Thank you! (blush)
Cynthia Morgan
Marketeer, Webbist, Glassist
http://www.morganica.com/bloggery
http://www.cynthiamorgan.com

"I wrote, therefore I was." (me)


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