As much as I love the pate de verre processes I’m investigating, they can get kinda intense, tedious and looooong. And they don’t exactly happen overnight.

It’s amazing how nice it feels just to quickly FUSE something for a change.

I’m part of the Oregon Glass Guild, and every year we get together with the Oregon Potters Association (huge, well-oiled org that dwarfs little OGG) for the Empty Bowls benefit. Members get together to make bowls from donated materials, and anything goes–whatever you can dream up with what’s at hand, you can make.

The bowls are sold over the fourth of July at the Waterfront Blues Festival, with all proceeds going to the Oregon Food Bank. Can you think of a nicer way to play with glass? I can’t. In the last ten years we’ve raised more than $120,000 for OFB, and had a lot of fun doing it.

PLUG: DEFINITELY make the blues festival. Reggie Houston, Mary Flower, Linda Hornbuckle and Janice Scroggins will be there and aside from being darn nice people they also make amazing music. I wrote about Hornbuckle and Scroggins’ performance earlier this year–the four of them in the same venue will be amazing. And it’s got a great cause that’s really hurting this year.

OGG members gathered at the Uroboros glass factory in Portland last month to make our contributions (and we also made some additional stuff on our own). Uro generously donates the glass and the first firing of the blanks–and this year my buddy Kat Hartley and co-owner Lorna Lovell also made bowls, which was fun–and then members do any coldwork and final slumping.

I’ve got eight of those fired blanks slumping in the kiln right now, and spent a few hours yesterday coldworking them, doing a little carving, having fun just playing. They’re not great art, but they’re surprisingly nice bowls and plates.

I enjoyed myself hugely when we were making the blanks–anything goes, the glass is all there, buddies encouraging you to just PLAY with the glass… Sometimes I think I get so hung up on controlled testing and planning and precision that I forget how much fun it is to, well, have fun with glass.

And there was something quiet and soothing about standing at the flat lap yesterday and playing with edge treatments on a bunch of simple blanks. No anxiety about surfaces, no worry about messing up the natural surface of a casting…just puuuush into the whirring diamonds, watch the water skim off the surface, and relax.

Hmmmm. Maybe I oughta do this on a regular basis. Right now I’m gonna go down, check the kiln, see if it’s ready to be opened. I’ll let you know.