Authentic Original Aboriginal Glass Art by Alisa Nielsen – How It’s Made

My designs start out as traditional formwork designs. And then I “skeletonize” them so that wherever possible, a nearly negative image is created in order to have a solid or connected piece of copper. This enables me to control the movement of the copper and the bubbles created in the glass. The copper forms are fairly intricate and the copper is super thin (like aluminum foil) so I have to stick the sheet of copper to a sticky sheet so that it stays in place while I cut out my designs.

 

And then I pull it off the sticky back (this process is called weeding in the sign making industry) and smooth them back out. Remember when you were a kid and you would take a piece of gum and then smooth out the aluminum foil wrapper and fold it into some kind of boat, plane or bird? – well, you have to smooth out the copper in a similar fashion in order to get them ready for inclusion in my glass works.

Creating a Colourway

My colourways are created sifting several glass powders together and in layers. Working with glass colours is not the same as working with colours in any other medium. Yellow and blue does not necessarily make green.  Often I end up with ‘diaper rash brown’ as I affectionately call it when I’m trying to create a new colourway. That’s because glass colours are created by the inclusion of ions and metals rather than pigments. It’s kind of like being a mad scientist during this process as the powder colour does not match the fired colour, you’re wearing a breathing mask as the silica powder can be bad for your lungs and there’s little to no way you can exactly replicate a single piece as it all depends on mood at the time of “flying glass”. The colourway is further created between the first (Tack Fuse) and second (Full Fuse) firings as it is dependent upon the final added colours and the copper inlay.