Whew. Long, fun day at the Glass Art Society’s Portland 2008 conference, an impressive opening day.

Some great talks and demos, still meeting old friends and discovering new ones. Inspiration abounded, but I have to admit that the technical exhibits held the day for me.

I love having this many manufacturers in one room, ready to solve my problems. The great folks from Digitry patiently worked through my notions of a kiln controller that holds and releases steps in a firing cycle based on pyrometer, humidity and time readings. They also gave me some great tips on building the system to text-message me when something important happens in the kiln…and then lets me change cycles from the phone (or the nearest web browser). See, I’ve got this idea for a casting kiln that THINKS about what’s happening to the glass and mold inside, and responds appropriately…

Talked with Ditore & company about their new hollow kilnshelves from the UK (and got more ideas)–they’re potentially flatter and less insulating than regular shelves, and might be stronger, too, although you do give up a little cubic because they’re thicker. Saw a BUNCH of refractory manufacturers that might help out with some ideas I have for reusable pate de verre molds, and came across a company with a video library that I didn’t know about.

Then had one of those “pays for the conference” moments with Gaffer; been having trouble getting light yellow to mix with clear and go even lighter; inexplicably (to me, at least), it was growing darker instead. Spent a happy 15 minutes going over a cadmium issue with them, and should have the color thing licked–what they proposed probably wasn’t something I would have glommed onto without some serious research.

But, interestingly, the incident with Gaffer really drove home the fact that I’ve been spoiled rotten by Bullseye Glass. Bullseye shares so much technical information that I just sort of naturally assume that other glassmakers do it, too–which is NOT the case. Bullseye’s sorta the Open Source of the glass world, and I’m not sure that newer kilnforming artists really understand that this isn’t an industry standard.

I’m not saying that other manufacturers aren’t more than generous when you ask for help–they are, and Uroboros is certainly a great example of extreme generosity in that regard–but when it comes to proactive technical infodelivery, Bullseye’s in a class by itself.

‘Nuf soapbox. Headed down to the GAS opening reception at the Portland Art Museum, a truly impressive retrospective of Klaus Moje’s work (including some of his early work with a satiny grey German glass that just begged to be stroked). I gotta admit, though, that the highlight of the reception was taking the uninitiated over to the canoe in PAM’s Native American exhibit and telling them to look up. There’s a three-story wall of William Morris artifacts overhead, and the jaw-dropping “holy sh….” reactions were delightful.

One real highlight: A French-Canadian artist, Dr. Roger Ghys, strolled up to the volunteer table and graciously offered to help out with volunteer tasks. After touring visitors through the student art competition, we chatted for awhile and I learned more about his work. A radiation oncologist, he came late to glass, but he’s got some impressive hot castings and pate de verre, definitely worth viewing.

Oh, and a warm word of thanks for Zoe Bacon, a local glass/metal artist with a terrific sense of humor, who jumped in to man the volunteer desk when we suffered a temporary shortage of volunteers this morning, and then stuck it out through to the afternoon so I could go see the tech exhibits. We’ve started playing around with some ideas for light-trapping steel frames for my Emergents series of pate de verre panels, and she’s getting me all energized about it. Great to find a new buddy.

Great day.