29 June 2005

And so back home via Oxford

With the car packed to the gills with glass, I journeyed back via Oxford for a last KK meeting at the President's Lodge (pictured) where we were treated to a dinner with 1979 claret and an equally exceptional Sauternes. But the real treat was entering the controlled book bubble to see a fragment of the St Matthew Gospel about Mary Magdalen, written in 60 AD. Also the Venerable Bede - in his own hand, and a selection of other treasures. So from one sort of a bubble to another, ending where I began my journey of discovery: with the book.

25 June 2005

Installation at the Red House Cone

Our three-girl show at the Red House Cone, Scene Through Glass, opened on 22nd with a very enjoyable party. Part of the Stourbridge Festival of Performing Arts.

The picture shows the storyteller, John Edgar, who was excellent (Oh yes, and that's Emily on the left). He related various tales and myths to my concept of the ambiguities inherent in the way we perceive the world as expressed by my kiln-fused piece, Comma Separated Values. We wanted listeners to think, ‘I never looked at it from that point of view before’. e.g.

- Is Cinderella forgiving or vengeful?
- What gave rise to the saying 'For the Want of a Nail'?
- How does The Hare and the Tortoise relate to Why the Elephant has a Flat Bottom?

As to a specific ‘comma’, the storyteller liked, 'What is this thing called, love?' as opposed to 'What is this thing called love'. Lots of scope in Shakespeare. There's Duncan listening to a wounded soldier and issuing the command, ‘Go get him, surgeons!’ instead of, ‘Go, get him surgeons.’

A shame more people didn't come to hear him. As he said, it was a 'spectacle'. I'd love to do it again in London.

24 June 2005

The end of the year

It's the last day of term and I am sorry to be going. I suppose it is always the case that you feel you are just beginning to understand something as it comes to an end. Another 4 weeks (which they had last year) would, I think, have given me that extra bit of confidence in dealing with hot glass that I lack. All the same, I come away with a nicely controlled last bowl To be pictured, I promise, but I won't be home until next Wednesday and can only upload the last lot of pictures then. There have been complaints about my failure to put up pictures when I said I would. Oh yes, even I have alert readers who follow my progress. Thanks fans.

23 June 2005

Marbled stained glass sampler

I've not been a stained glass fan because I've been struggling with what it's for in a modern world. But today I worked very hard to make this panel using the marbling sample effects I had experimented with at West Dean. Quite like the results. This time I have weather-proofed it with the proper cement. Hope to do the blacking on the last day of term, assuming someone can find some wire wool. They are rather clearing everything away.

22 June 2005

The Royal Brierley Factory

Isn't this sad! The 10-acre site that was once a thriving glasshouse employing many people in the area is being demolished. This is a portrait of Britain today. Industry and craftsmanship making way for housing. It's an irony that the very first Sotheby's sale I ever went to was for the Royal Brierley collection of glass.

20 June 2005

A quartet of wobbly ... er, goblets?

Today is our 35th wedding anniversary -- coral, apparently -- but I am not at home celebrating. Not on my second to last Martin evening. And what a thrill. I actually managed to make some mini goblets (sherry size) myself -- of which one is laughably wonky.

Martin brought me the bits (small gathers of hot glass) and I shaped them without help. I am well chuffed. It was on the 'my interest in hot glass' essay we had to write in the first few weeks that my cup would run over if I achieved this, however squewed. And I did. Though in the course of the year I came to realise what a foolhardy aspiration that was. My chair partner, Dave, says I'm brave and take risks (and if that's true, it's a nice reason for losing as many pieces as I do right at the end: I'm just trying to make things I don't have the skill to do). But, heigh -- I did the wine glasses. Come and drink out of them, friends. Footnote: by the time I'd added the picture, I had made enough for a dinner party for 8. But they will have to be very close friends indeed and promise not to laugh.

18 June 2005

Have I had a good week, or what!

This is the progress of the goblets Helen blew for me (my quid-pro-quo for writing an article about the college for The Craftsman). I had already made the canes (see February entry) and drawn up a measured design.

My canes, cut and warming to 500 degrees C in the top-loader. First gather.

Shaping the bubble. Dropping on a cane which was picked up with a blob of hot glass.

Straightening the stem. Missing picture of a blob being dropped on the end of the stem. Shaping the blob into a foot.

Using a footboard. Taking a punty onto the foot.

Opening the bowl. Boarding and shaping the bowl.
Missing pictures - using calipers at every stage to measure the parts; cracking off and final result. We drank to Helen & Steve with them last night, but I will wait for Stephen to justice with a proper (non-digital) photo to be posted later.

I'm thrilled to bits with these.

17 June 2005

Graal -- marbled effect

Such excitement. I blasted and scratched my design on the 'egg' blank at West Dean using the marbling ideas I had been experimenting with the day before. And James blew it for me to my design yesterday. I am thrilled with the result. More tortoisehell than marble, but very nice.

16 June 2005

Someone wants to buy this!

This is in First Gather - an exhibition of present and past students at Himley Hall (former home of the Earls of Dudley). Seven of my pieces were selected. It's not for sale, but someone asked if I'd make another or something like it. Only trouble is, no one seems to have taken down the details. The student on patrol at the time told me that I should contact the organisers and when I did they said they knew nothing about it. Really a bit frustrating as I'd quite like a commission. On the other hand, if one person is interested then surely there'll be others.

14 June 2005


Remember the entry 'Life's not all Me, Me, Me' ? Well, Ai is going back to Japan and says the postage is too much so as I admired her blue swirly bowl, would I like to keep it. Of course, I would. Nice memory.

13 June 2005

Success with latticino at last

This is my fourth attempt and the best one. Bit chunky. Slightly unround at the top. But I like it; it's something I was hoping to achieve. And I'm chuffed.

See 20 March (which can't somehow link to as this program has a mind of its own).

12 June 2005

Who is that scurrying green person?

Well, it's me not having time to look at the stunningly perfect gardens at West Dean College, on possibly their most perfect time of the year -- espalier peach and fig trees to die for -- but no time to dwell, because on a weekend course called 'Blast and Scratch It' -- i.e. sandblasting and engraving. Here they have a sandblaster that actually works. You don't have to twist yourself into back-ache to do it. I experimented with marbling effects (like book endpapers) on 9 small bits of flash glass. Then did my Graal egg. Whole thing inspirational; fab teaching; wonderful surroundings; learned a lot.

01 June 2005

Pauca pausis

Short pause caused by time-consuming intermission of my aunt Kate's 97th birthday celebrations in Scotland, followed immediately by Stephen's uncle's death (aged 85) which happened as we were driving back home from the north. So no pix for a while, because they are stuck in the cameras. This one is a bowl in the 2nd Gather exhibition at Himley Hall. I currently have 7 items in 1st Gather. Open Tuesdays - Sundays 2-5 p.m.