I enjoy all aspects of glass fusing, pendants, plates, bowls and tiles, but what I really like is to make pictures of glass. When I make an art glass picture, there are hundreds of pieces of glass that go into some of the projects. The sunflower design shown here has almost 400 pieces. I know. I counted them all, and a few of them took off the ends of my fingers. Each little piece of glass had to be cut and then, shaped with my grinder. Once everything is cut and ground into what I hope will look like a natural petal or leaf, then, it is time to start gluing it all down. I use a watered down Elmer’s glue to hold the pieces into place, and I glue one layer at a time. I start with the stems and leaves and make a circle of petals to determine where the flowers will go. It gets complicated when things overlap, and I have to figure out how to make half of a flower. I wiggle and maneuver everything to fit into place. I put in five to six layers of petals to give the sunflowers some depth. After all the petals are glued down, then, I go back and fill the centers with black frit, ground up pieces of glass. For these flowers, I used a coarse frit to add texture, but sometimes, I use a finer frit to blend into the background or change colors. The final step is to take stringer, thin long glass stripes shaped like spaghetti, and heat it over a candle flame to make bends and curves to highlight the leaves and add some interesting details to the background. Then, the glue must dry completely. Moisture is a disaster in a kiln as the steam causes the glass to move around and settle in places you didn’t intend for it to be. This picture took about four hours of cutting time and two hours gluing and shaping the stringer. Add in about fourteen hours in the kiln. This type of glass fusing is not quick! When I look at the picture though, I don’t see 400 teeny tiny pieces of glass that pricked my fingers and took so much time. I see a beautiful field of sunflowers. That is how a year is as well. We get one minute, one hour, one day at a time. Some days are painful and slow. We wish that they would not come. Some days are sunny and bright. If you look carefully at my picture, you will see some places where I made mistakes. The stems don’t connect and some frit spilled where it shouldn’t be. Yet, the mistakes blend in and add to the beauty. Looking back on 2008, there were some things I regret and wish had not happend. But, I see lots of things to be thankful for as well. I don’t know what 2009 will hold, but I know that God will take the good and the bad and turn them into something beautiful. It is my job to take each piece He gives me and cherish what He creates.