Fused Glass Ornament Party

Ann hosted her grandkids, her friends, and several of her friends’ grandkids in her studio for a Christmas project party.

The kids ranged in age from two to twelve, and while I must say I was a little nervous as the mom of the two-year-old, helping her to make artwork using glass fragments and superglue, this activity was so fun for everyone involved.

Ann Cavanaugh Glass3

Tack-fused Christmas tree ornaments by Ann’s grandkids Liam (age 4, top row) and Iris (age 2, bottom row).

Ann helps Iris and Liam arrange the frit on their ornaments.

Ann helps Iris and Liam arrange the frit on their ornaments.

Ann had prepped her studio for the activity by creating simple triangular shapes that she pre-fused with hooks, so they would easily become Christmas ornaments.  The kids had access to any color of frit (small pieces of glass, ranging from powders to pebbly chunks), stringers (long thin glass rods–imagine beautiful transparent spaghetti noodles in every color of the rainbow), murano glass with stars and flower shapes formed in to the pieces, and even fused glass pebbles.

The kids had small cups and spoons to portion out their frit, and they could sprinkle it carefully on their pieces using a spoon or their fingers, with hairspray to keep the finer frit in place and superglue tacking down the larger chunks.


Liam at work on the tree ornament he gave to his preschool teacher as a gift


Iris carefully positioning each chunk. She chose purple frit, of course!

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Ann also pre-fused some fun star shapes–my kids loved decorating these.  They are laying on our dining room table as part of the Christmas decor.  I do think their color choices may have been unduly influenced by the fact that we made these on the morning of the Civil War game–the face-off between University of Oregon and Oregon State’s football teams.  Liam’s admiration of the Ducks green-and-yellow was definitely a subject of conversation while creating these.

Liam's U of O-inspired star

Liam’s U of O-inspired star

Iris's Liam-inspired star

Iris’s Liam-inspired star

I was really proud of how seriously the kids took this activity.  They were using tools and materials that could have been dangerous (although they were very closely supervised), but they were being so careful and were so proud of themselves and what they were creating.


Liam’s pieces, all ready to be fused

Ann tack-fused the stars and ornaments to make sure they held together but to retain the shapes and textures of the materials the kids chose.

What may have been the coolest part of our morning for me was making some fused glass tiles.  Ann built clear glass trays, and the kids (and even I got in on the action) could load layers of glass, pebbles, stringers, and frit into the trays to create glass tiles with depth and some really interesting possibilities.  Ann did a full fuse on these pieces, melting all the glass together into a smooth surface with the depth coming from the layers and the light coming through.

I went pretty literal–I’ve always loved the birch trees that Ann makes, and one of the kids  in the studio that day had brought a piece of artwork with him that he had made that inspired me.  It was white-barked trees against a deep blue background with snow falling.


Beth’s snowy woods

Liam’s piece was more abstract, but very methodical.  He laid out each piece of glass in the center, then distributed his colored frit so carefully in the corners.


Liam’s fused mosaic

And Iris went at it with the abandon that only a two-year-old possesses.  She scooped cups of every color and size of frit, nestled pebbles and stringers in, and swirled everything around with a paintbrush.  She loved it!


Iris’s mix

Hers is the only one that I got a before-and-after photo of:

November 20123

Iris adds the finishing touches to her masterpiece

Iris adds the finishing touches to her masterpiece

I wish I had seen the results of some of the other kids’ projects!  There were really some amazing things happening in the studio that morning.  I posted a little more from the family perspective on my other blog–you can check it out by clicking here!

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