26 February 2005

A productive week

As I stood on a chair to get a better view of a Bulgarian glass artist pouring white-hot glass out of a ladle with a handle as long as the front door, I thought, 'I can't believe this is my working week.' He was demonstrating sandcasting, spooning glass into large moulds made out of black sand. All very sculptural -- I'll post pictures when they are polished.
What with the cane-pulling on Monday, good booty at glass-blowing evening classes, and helpful feedback on my design for a 'comma' of lenses (no that's not a collective noun), I've had a good week. Even went to a pleasingly grubby house-clearance auction in Kidderminster (no trophies, though).

22 February 2005

Pulling cane

Yesterday I pulled cane - helped Steve (the technician) is actually more accurate as he did all the hard work, and it is very demanding. Unfortunately, I didn't think of asking anyone to take a picture of me at the pulling stage, when you are both madly twisting a long string of clear glass with white glass rods in it and walking backwards keeping it up from the ground. The whole thing ended up about 12 metres. Then you chop it quickly into lengths and pile it into the lehr to anneal. Now this is seriously exciting! Anyone who knows me, is aware of my passion for opaque twist wineglasses. Thanks, Steve.

18 February 2005

Drill engraving

At home for half term, I am having a nice quiet time engraving some of my own glass. Here's what I am doing:

Not quite finished, and what isn't instantly visible is how wobbly the dishes are -- I think I thought engraving would disguise that; it doesn't. But...got to practise on something!

15 February 2005

Another bowl

Here's one I did last week -- unaided. It's not too bad; enough to make me feel I am moving forward. The items are getting gradually larger and a bit more on centre.

12 February 2005

Cold working

Here I am working on the flatbed wheel (to flatten the bottom of a bowl), the punty wheel (to make a smooth recess in a glass, and the diamond saw slicing off the top of a vase -- all blown by me and all a bit wobbly, but I need to practise getting a 'professional' finish on something. And I'm getting better at it.

09 February 2005

Prince Rupert Drops

Actual drama and excitement in glass technology today when we experienced the explosion of a Prince Rupert Drop. This is a tadpole-like object of solid glass with a bulbous end tapering down to a thin twirl. When you break the top of the thin bit, the whole thing explodes (done in water, of course, but no less a bang for all that). This effect is caused by cooling the glass too rapidly so that stresses are frozen inside the tadpole-head. The eponymous grandson of James 1 brought these to England in 1641 and the king liked to get people to hold the bulb-end in a tight fist and then he would crack off the tadpole-end giving the subject a nasty turn, I would say, like an electric shock. Our tutor didn't risk that - though apparently the glass shatters into powder. Indeed, we have seen a trail of furnace glass dropped in a bucket of water then crunched to powder in the hand.

Fascinating stuff, glass.

08 February 2005

Pancake day & dragons

Various of us had pancake fests -- I didn't go to the one my group went to as I had already invited 2 of our tutors (1 came; 1 wished she could). Good lemon squeezie and good convo.

Re glass, one of those weeks when things break. Well, it's glass. That's what it does. In my case one of those Browning moments (which so describe me): 'In striving to perfect/ Oft we marr what's well'. Which is what I did. Ground through the bottom of a vessel I had spent a whole day engraving just because the bottom wasn't flat and I thought I had meanwhile learnt how to flatten it. Dragon breathing round the rubric 'textere' as in text and weaving. One of best things I've done. It's going to migrate now to something else using a UV glue. Is glue naff? The tutors here don't seem to think so. Anyway, I don't feel ready to waste my dragon.

01 February 2005

Coefficient of expansion

COE for short. Important, because as glass cools it might cool at a different rate to the bit it is stuck to and so one bit will crack. But does it require the tedium of a 2 hour 40 mins lecture? Might do -- but, moi, I'm skipping it tomorrow in favour of experimenting. I can read about the technics in a book, but I can only try out a kiln on my booked day -- one a fortnight, and mine's tomorrow.

I'm trying out ways of embellishing this chandelier with glass to interplay with the light. I bought it in a junk shop and am converting it back to candles.