24 March 2005


Not a bad paraison (shape of the bubble of hot glass at the end of the iron) and a convincing-looking cut-in. It's the last week of the second term and I had a bit of a break-through in the last 2 days of term. There's a unit of the course that involves making a scent bottle to a set design. We've been told none of us is good enough yet. I'm not saying I am, but three of us had a go at it and I was beginning to get the idea to the surprise of the tutor. If I'd had a whole afternoon doing one after another, I would have managed it. And next evening, I made another latticino bowl -- the largest thing I have made. But I won't see the result until next term.

This blog will now go quiet till 18 April.

23 March 2005

Mould casting

This is also a copper wire figure, but a much simpler technique. Here you see me at the furnace with the end of the witch's spoon which I am twisting to scoop up molten glass and ladle it into a square mould. You drop in the inclusion and then spoon in another lot. Difficult to be fast enough - but the other two of the trio doing it didn't want to try and it was left to the tutors to help. The other pic is the finished item. No finishing needed.

22 March 2005

How the sandcast really turned out

Here's the picture of the finished item. The reason it has taken so long to post it up is that the cold working is really slow and laborious. To get the copper figure to show (hope you can see it at this size), you have to grind it on the flatbed wheel, then hand grind 3 times on 4 different carborundum powders - starting at 180 and ending with the finest at 500. Then, you smooth it further on the cork linisher (about 4 times) and finally on the pumice wheel (also 3-4 times). Finally, it goes shiny and see-through. If I'd known, I'd have designed it better. I'm still quite pleased with it.

20 March 2005

Scene Through Glass

Three of us have been selected to exhibit in the Stourbridge Festival of Peforming Arts. This is what I wrote for our blurb, and wonderful Peter Cox has designed me the logo.

‘Scene Through Glass’ shows glass installations by a group of students from the International Glass Centre. This is performance art that involves viewers in a narrative experience mediated by their personal points of view. The exhibits variously express ambiguities in language, childhood dream stories, defining spaces and urban regeneration. The works will be on display in the Red House Glass Cone, which forms a fitting backdrop for narrative glass art as its museum tells the story of the famous glassmaking heritage of Stourbridge. 24 to 26 June 2005.


One of my secret wishes was to do something spirally with twisted canes -- latticino (from latte - milk). They started by saying: 'In your dreams.' And I did dream and I kept trying to dream in the hot shop. And here it is. Yes, it's wonky. And it's because the blue canes want to pull in and the white ones want to push out. So, no, I wasn't ready to control that. But I did do it. And I'm thrilled.

19 March 2005

How the sandcast turned out

Rather exciting. A figure swimming in blue-green bubbles. Can't show a picture yet because I will have to polish the front so the figure can be seen. But the linisher is broken, so it won't be till next term. Now I see that the success of this technique depends on a lot of patience in cold-working. Meanwhile, the picture shows champagne-cage wire figures I was going to put in the cast until advised to do a flat one instead.

18 March 2005

Fused platter

Not sure if I like this or not, though I had fun trying to 'paint' in glass. It's just a bit too delicate for comfort, with lacy patterns round the edge that have just flowed a little too far, so slightly spikey rather than smooth. Lower in the kiln next time.

10 March 2005


Sue (2nd year) invited me to join her in sandcasting.
Here we are: Sue directing, Michelle on sheers and James, the ladle man, and me hovering in the wings for my star moment.

First, I made a copper-wire figure. Then I made a space for it in black sand, bentinite and graphite (you do this with your hands. James spooned a layer of hot glass into it. Then I dropped in my copper figure and sloshed some copper carbonate over her to give a blue and to produce bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles. James then poured another lot of glass over it. Now it's in the lehr -- I won't know if it worked till Monday. As skills go, this is one of the easier ones. But I think the real work comes in the grinding and polishing afterwards.

09 March 2005

Out of the architectural kiln

Reader, it broke.

There was a sting in the tail. That is to say, the thin downward curve needed more reinforcing -- there was a weak point there. Disappointing, but I have regrouped already and as long as I have enough compatible lenses, I shall have another go. Denise, the tutor, likes the idea so will find a way of my having the kiln again. And today I found some wonderful flexible stainless steel tubing that I think I can use to make my surrounding mould instead of the horrible plaster-molochite-fibre glass mixture I struggled with before. Or UV glue is always a possibility.

05 March 2005

Installation piece

My piece entitled 'Comma Separated Values' is in the architectural kiln this weekend. This is a piece about glass, perspective, ambiguity, and language (Download a more expansive version of this). Will it work? I can't possibly make it again if it goes wrong. I think I have linished and washed 300 lenses to make it; two attempts at making a mould to contain it. Here's me making a clay outline, and the piece assembled in a plaster mould in the kiln. In one's mind the assembly can be done by morning coffee, but I had to negotiate round people blowing in the hotshop. It took till 3 p.m. when we get thrown out on a Friday, and I rushed at the end and feel very tense about how it will turn out.

04 March 2005

Using colour in blown glass

A few pictures of reasonably succesful items blown at college. I'm quite pleased with the red vase (last one) which is actually on centre and done all on my own. And the two red-and-amber items, though a bit chunky and uneven, have an interesting colour texture that others admired. Still in the lehr is one with dichroic splinters on it - a very fetching, glittery effect, though I fear the object itself is another no-goer.

01 March 2005

Extra tuition

I'm not sure why, but I didn't post up two important 'extras' which have made a huge difference.

1. I had been going to watch Martin Andrews working at the Ruskin Centre and finally negotiated some one-to-one sessions with him. I'll probably have 10 spaced out over the next few weeks. So no more bead-making on a Monday evening.

2. I went to an engraving weekend at West Dean run by Tracey Sheppard just before half term. An eye-opener. I would not have known about toning and modelling without it.

I suppose I felt my tutors and colleagues at the college would look askance at such extra-curricular activity. But I just wanted to learn more than is possible here, especially as I lost quite a lot of the first term because of back pain and still being on my various Boards and so rushing backwards and forwards to London, sometimes twice a week.