The Official Narrative of
Rong Lipp Glasswerks
My focus from the beginning of my fusing life has always been to create a sense of depth in my designs; had that not been the case I would not be doing the work I am capable of now. This sets me apart from other warm glass artists that I have run across over the years.
Given that a dichroic glass coating on black glass shows only the reflected color, I learned early on not to use black glass for my bottom layer. But if black is the absence of color, dark cathedral glass, like my favorite colors purple, dark blue, violet, or green, allow plenty of light to enter a piece and allow a dichroic coating on clear glass to show in possibly three colors. This adds to depth. I also learned that by using, say, dark purple as my base layer, I could make my second layer clear glass with dichroic coating, and by laying the coated side down I got the coating reflected in the dark underlayer and added a clear coat on top of that. Now as I build upwards in layers, I can get more depth, can add black coated pieces, clear coat, and then coated clear glass with the coating on top. This way the glass under the coating slides into and incorporates into the layer below and only the coating is visible on the top. Keep in mind that I am still limited to sizes and shapes of glass that can be cut by hand. Occasionally I incorporate a circle into the design, but it makes the coating ragged on the edges, as I have to take the glass to a grinder to get the round shape. Dichroic coatings like "splatter" help in this because it would be the same thing if I sandblasted a pattern into the glass coating. The softer multi-colored glass I have surrounding some of the pieces is also something I have not seen done before. It's called Wasser glass, is not manufactured anymore, and I have a good bit of it in stock. Although it has the same coefficient of expansion as my dichroic glass, it melts softer and surrounds and gives depth like no other glass I have found.
And size does matter. I would prefer to work in a size similar to the larger pendants because that amount of real estate is very nice to develop. I have learned over the years that when it comes to jewelry, one must always strive to work in smaller dimensions. I try to make as many petite pieces as I can, and as you can imagine, if you are making a cabochon that will later be mounted on a squished penny, you are pretty limited on what you can visually accomplish and the amount of depth you can explore.
When you talk time frame on the glass pieces, please understand that although they occurred over the last two years, some of those you like are actually from an earlier time. Imagine it this way. I have a basic framework down for how I want these pieces to have depth, or tell a story, or play haiku if you will. Two years ago, if I fired 15 pieces on my 6x6 kiln shelf, I may have impressed myself with three or four that had the kind of depth I routinely accomplish now. Now the other pieces were still my children, and I hoped them good homes and a small repayment to the coffers so I could buy more material. The last few firings I did, probably six months ago, I was impressed with almost all the pieces. Good fusing is my ultimate goal, but I have to be in the zone mentally when I approach my design. Then I find that I fuse furiously for a week or two and then the wind goes out of my sails. It is quite an accomplishment to build 10-15 pieces in an evening and then fire them. Once I start to design a tray I do not stop until it is loaded and fired. I use no glue, so all this carefully stacked glass needs to be fired to place the designs where I placed them. And then you have some changes based on a quick firing. I go from room temp to 1500 degrees F in about thirty minutes, and then I can take the pieces out when they are about 500 degrees. This is when I get to see how I did.
And although I do have themes that I return to, no two pieces I make are ever the same. Currently I feature pendants, bracelets, key chains, zipper clippers, and loose stones for those who wire wrap or so that the customer can choose her own stone and special order the piece of jewelry most suitable for his or her lifestyle. I make all my own findings and backings out of recycled metal or old coins because I was once a gold smith and a jeweler. I would be most appreciative if someone buys a piece of jewelry from me and then feels like they just bought a nose ring from a pirate.
You can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org or @ronglipp on Instagram. You can also catch me at @UmassBuildingBridges on Instagram. My current approach is to think local and be a part of my local community and art scene. When not fusing glass I am intent on building bridges on campus among disparate groups of humanoids.