Creativity in art is natural to some and learned by many. I was always a planner and logical thinker. Creativity in aesthetics was not my thing. About 10 years ago I started to make things with my hands. With plans in hand I could create many things. Without plans, I was simply at a loss. I started with a stained-glass class. It was fun and easy to follow the predefined pattern. Choosing the color for sky, water, trees, and flowers was pretty much a no-brainer, especially considering that the variations on blues, greens, and reds was restricted to very few selections.
Then I started a cycle of creating, classes, creating more, more classes and the ever-important experimentation, which often include failures. Like most of us, I learned some great lessons through my failures equal or better than the successes. Like college level learning, I was able to apply various lessons to entirely other disciplines. I was able to learn A and B, then synthesize C on my own, thus extending the things I learned. Techniques that worked in lapidary often crossed over to glass. Things that worked from metalsmithing could be applied to casting. I also learned that not all transferred across media well.
I hold a professional level full-time job. I prefer to create art, but like many people, the benefits of vacation, medical insurance, and retirement are hard to give up in order to create art full-time. I try hard to balance these life choices.
Now, I see art in almost everything. This weekend I noticed an impression in an empty green gin bottle. In the blink of an eye, I imagined making it into a pendant. Since there were separate impressions on both the right and left side, make that 2 pendants. Making recycled jewelry would be a rewarding task. I could easily envision the 5 steps needed, the equipment to be used, and the time it would take.
I cut the bottle on my small lapidary trim saw. First, I learned that commercial glass does not cut the same way as stone or even my fusing glass. There were very small sharp pieces. With several cuts and just a little bit of blood on my hand, I decided to continue. As always, I had on my dust filter and safety glasses on. This would definitely not be the time to skip on the glasses. Safety is often needed in that moment when we become complacent. I am glad this was not one of those times as I say several shards bounce off of the safety glass’ lens.
After cutting up the bottle and trimming the impressions into a rough from, I switch over to my lapidary cabbing machine. Here, I ground the rough forms into smooth rounded pendant shapes. Using the same technique that I use to make stone cabochons, I started with the coarse 80 grit grinding wheel. For commercial glass, this is a bit aggressive and chipped the edges more than I wanted. I switch over to the 120 grit wheel and found better results. After doing the rough shaping, I smoothed out the edges to a more rounded shape and flattened the back a bit, as the bottle’s glass thickness was uneven. I made sure to leave a little extra tab at the top to allow me to drill a small hole to hang the pendant from.
Once I was comfortable with the shape and smoothness, I drilled the hole. I use a small drill press in my lapidary work to drill holes through stone jewelry pendants as well as some of my fused glass pieces. I used a 3 mm diamond core drill bit with the piece submerged in a shallow container of water. It was at this stage that I noted there was a darker green coating on the outside of the slightly lighter green glass. I decided that a day in the polish grit of one of my rock tumblers should do the trick. It removed the darker green layer, smoothed out the drilled hole, and gave a nice final polish to the piece.
Once finished, I had two recycled, green, glass, gin bottle pendants. In addition, I’ll later fire polish the bottom of the gin bottle to make a nice flower vase.
Art can be seeing the possible in things that are totally disconnected. Yet, there it is. Where my eye never used to see anything interesting in objects, I now see the world in an entirely new artistic way.