Friday, October 28, 2016

After Glow - Anatomy of a Commission

After Glow, Design: Lisa Vogt, Fabrication: Joe Vogt

“It’s a process.” That’s one of the first things I say to a client inquiring about commissioning a custom piece of art. I further explain that we’ll be creative partners. There’ll be a good deal of give and take before we agree on the direction and form the artwork will take.

If you find my approach surprising, you’re not alone. People think I just look at a space and a wonderful original idea pops into my head. I have designed from the hip. But when it comes to my commission work, I prefer to take a more personal approach. This way, the finished art represents the individual client’s style, as much my own. Truth is, I value their input. They already envision how the new artwork will enhance their living space, even if they can’t fully articulate exactly what that artwork will look like. The fun part for me, the challenge, is to take that fragmented information and design a work of art that brings their abstract ideas to life.

After Glow Computer Rendering

Plus, it’s difficult to meet someone’s expectations without first knowing what they hope to accomplish with the installation. Working closely with the client better enables me to satisfy that goal. The reality is, it’s the client who will live with the art, not me. Accordingly, I strive to over-deliver and exceed their expectations by creating exceptional art they’ll absolutely love.   

In addition to the esthetic aspect of the artwork, there are the physical parameters of the installation site that need to be considered. The space available, the design style, the color scheme, lighting, budget, indoor or outdoor site, private or public locations are just a few of the constraints that will drive the artwork’s design direction.

Equipped with all this information, the designing began with a few quick sketches. These thumbnails helped me get a feel for the client’s likes and dislikes. Once we’d narrowed down the overall flow and glass shapes, I drew a detailed color rendering of the approved design. Then, the client and I met to go over the fabrication specifications. At the same time, I showed them examples of the materials that we’d use to build their one-of-a-kind beauty.  

Fabrication began with a full scale drawing. This was my opportunity to tweak the design and make minor changes that would improve continuity. Slight adjustments were made to curves, the overall size and the placement of the design elements. The glass inserts were made next.

My client had a beautiful, brightly colored abstract painting hanging on the wall in the same room that this piece would call home. I wanted to incorporate ribbon shapes and colors found in the painting in the glass art. I felt that pot melts, with their characteristic flowy color blends would make flashy focal points. I made several pot melts using the vivid color combinations in the painting. The pot melts were later cut down and fit into the design. I also slumped several narrow strips over a wavy mold for an unexpected, vertical element.   

When the glass was done, the inserts were laid out on the pattern. The metal framework was then custom bent to compliment the glass pieces. Once the main frame was complete, brackets were fitted to each of the glass inserts. Removable clips on top of the brackets would hold the glass securely in place. The completed metal sculpture was then sandblasted, primed, painted and clear coated. In the final step, the three fused glass discs were glued into the metal rings.         

After Glow took six months to complete. I had some setbacks while fusing the glass, but we pushed through. The metal work had to wait until the glass was done, so that added time. Once started, the metal fabrication progressed in stages. Several times we’d overcome one obstacle and then need a few days to brainstorm the best way to proceed from there. There was no standard fallback procedure to follow. Our techniques have had to change and evolve with every new project. That’s the joy and challenge of making one-of-a-kind glass and metal sculptures. In the end though, it’s not about the time. It’s about the quality of the work and the way it enhances the site that matters. But the real thrill comes from seeing the collective dream my clients and I envisioned, in all its graceful glory, become a reality.  

After Glow
Design: Lisa Vogt
Fabrication: Joe Vogt
Fused Glass and Steel
72-inch x 60-inch x 5-inch
Private Residence, Wesley Chapel, Florida

See it made in the fabrication video here:


Next Webinar
Make a Fused Glass Sink
November 10, 2016

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Advanced Glass Fusing
February 21-24, 2017
My private studio, Wesley Chapel, Florida
You’ll love the in-depth concentration, personal instruction and casual atmosphere.
Learn how to make your art stand out!

Upcoming Webinar
Upscale Fusing with Lisa Vogt
January 5, 2017

Upcoming Webinar
Fusing with Frit with Lisa Vogt
January 24, 2017