Charles Hosmer Morse Museum offers artistic demonstrations every Friday night
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012 18:02
Upon opening a new wing, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is offering an open house experience on Friday nights with artistic demonstrations for all to view. This new wing celebrates the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, an American artist best known for his stained-glass pieces.
Following the idea of the new glass-inspired wing, this week's demonstration was performed by Lee Taylor and her team member, Holly Bennett. Taylor is the founder of the glass studio Lee Taylor Design.
Before the demonstration, Taylor gave background information about the pair and their love for glass fusing. Taylor has been in the art of glass making for nine years, although she has known since a very young age that glass making was what she was meant to do. As a little girl, Taylor's nanny would take her around town to the cathedrals.
"As a little girl, you see these massive windows and rainbows of light, and I would just be hypnotized," Taylor said.
Taylor graduated from Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., with a bachelor's degree in visual art and continued gaining experience and technique at the Pearl River Glass Studio in Mississippi.
Bennett has been making glass for five years. She works at Art Glass House, the international glass distributor where Taylor gets all of her materials. The two met on Taylor's first trip there.
"We were two peas in a pod," Bennett said. "We were destined to play together."
"We've been Pinky and the Brain ever since," Taylor said in agreement.
The process of glassmaking is time consuming. To make the glass tiles shown in the demonstration, a sheet of glass is placed into a stainless steel mold lined with a fiber material, which prevents the glass from sticking to the steel. Then other pieces of glass are placed on top of that sheet. This glass can be in many forms, including leftover scraps; frit, which is ground-up glass; noodles, which are very thin poles of glass; or canes, which are thicker poles of glass. The mold is then placed into a kiln to be heated.
The glass is heated to a temperature of about 1,700 degrees. At this temperature, the glass is in a liquid state that allows the artist to rake the glass into different patterns with a stainless steel rod. Bennett compares this process to one used while icing a cake.
"When you have a cake with stripes of chocolate and white icing and you pull a toothpick through and it comes back and forth, that's called feathering," Bennett said.
Taylor and Bennett also prepared a project perfect for the children at the demonstration. With the help of their parents at home, all a child needs is a few broken, unwrapped crayons, a small aluminum container such as a metal-style cupcake liner or disposable mini pie tin, some cooking spray and a 100-watt light bulb. First, spray the tin with the cooking spray, which makes it easier to remove the crayons later, and then place the crayons inside. Set the tin under the light and wait for the crayons to melt. Once they are melted, the children can take a toothpick and mix the colors together in designs, which is exactly what Bennett and Taylor were doing to the glass in the kiln.
UCF alum and Winter Park resident Stuart Bogue heard about the museum's open house and was excited to watch the glass demonstration. The crayon project especially caught his eye as an elementary school art teacher.
"I have boxes and boxes of broken crayons; I've been looking for something to do with them," Bogue said.
The Morse Museum offers free admission from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday nights through April.