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IRC Blog

IRC Blog
Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
By: IRC Blog

IRC artists enjoy experimenting with fused glass

Thanks to the generosity of a former resident, the art students at Ingleside at Rock Creek are exploring a new art form—fused glass. 

Cammie Burnight, who loved working on mosaic art while living at the retirement community, left a bequest of $28,000 for her fellow artists. The gift was used to purchase a glass kiln, molds, supplies and lessons from an instructor.

“We’ve had four private lessons with the teacher,” says Bunty, who has taught mosaic classes since she came to Ingleside at Rock Creek in 2006, and founded the Ingleside Mosaic Guild. 

“Cammie was hooked on mosaic,” Bunty says. “I went to her memorial service, and the executor of her estate came up to me and said Cammie wanted to make sure we never had to worry about buying supplies, tools and glass. Six months later, he called us with a check.” Cammie also bequeathed a similar amount to the Resident Supporting Fun and Employee Christmas Fund. 

Use of the new kiln begins with pieces of clear glass. The artist adds a design made with colored glass pieces and stringers—long, thin pieces that can be heated and shaped. The kiln is programmed with information such as how fast it should heat up, how high the temperature should go and how long to remain at that temperature, and the piece is placed inside. After leaving the pieces in the kiln overnight, the artists remove them. To shape a bowl or platter, the artist fires the piece again, this time draped over a mold. 

“The next morning, with great excitement, we go and see what we have,” Bunty says. “It’s a mystery as to exactly what it’s going to look like.” 

Sharon, the instructor from Weisser Glass who is teaching the artists how to work with fused glass, said there are seven kilns at her studio. To keep track of what pieces are in which kiln, each kiln was given a name. 

“We named ours Cammie Kiln,” Bunty says. When the kiln runs overnight, it sports a yellow chain that says “Cammie Kiln in use.” 

At present, Bunty and several other students are learning and experimenting with the glass kiln. This fall, they will invite other residents to come and learn with them. Thus far, they have been making sushi plates and bowls with designs that range from flowers to free form. Once they’ve mastered the process, they will be able to make other items, including jewelry. 

Mosaic and glass fusing are just two of the activities that happen in the retirement community’s well-equipped art studio. The artists also meet for watercolor and drawing classes, quiltmaking and printmaking. Their work adorns the common spaces of the community. The Ingleside Mosaic Guild is particularly well represented. Its members made mosaic-framed mirrors for the Health Center and a large cocktail table for the community’s living room. The members of the group have become so skilled that they are sought after for commissioned pieces. Proceeds of their sales go to the Resident Supporting Fund, which enables residents who find themselves unable to meet their monthly financial obligations to remain in their homes. 

“It's so important that we ‘persons of age’ remain open to new creative possibilities, even  activities that we've never done before,” Bunty says. “The possibilities are unpredictable and immeasurable. Who would have known that some of us are now learning to make lovely glass bowls and plates all because our dear friend Cammie got hooked on mosaics and gave us this wonderful gift?”

“We’re still learning a lot” about the art of glass fusing,” Bunty says, “and it’s all because of this wonderful person who gave us this bequest.”

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