19 September 2005

First day of my second year

Today I started my self-devised second year - the morning at an engraving class at Morley College and the afternoon at Westminster Adult Education (WAES) doing a Certificate course in kiln-formed glass. I think they are both going to be quite challenging and I hope more rigorous that the IGC. But I will still have to stumble through those assessment criteria hoops, specially at WAES. At least I know what I am up against now and how to play the game. First assignment is to cast a cube to be precision finished at 5 cm cubed. Then to derive 4 other forms from the same model using a variety of kiln techniques.

17 September 2005

More goblets

We tried to make an infinity table with black paper and I photographed these (from their best angle, natch).

16 September 2005

Our end of course display

Our pieces are floating on water ın the central meeting place: the agora, we call it. I have chosen to show my six best goblets. There are another 8 ın varying stages of wobblyness and there are 3 still in the lehr - one of which is pretty fancy.

15 September 2005

The Black Sea

We went by boat from the bit of river that runs past the back of the school to the mouth of the Black Sea. There we had dinner on a restaurant boat - good fun. Raki flowed and we sang all the way in the boat back (a 50 minute journey).

14 September 2005

Spinning incalmo

You can't see, but this is the most amazing bit of incalmo spinning. In case you don't know, that means joining two blown sections while they are hot -- so this was twisted canes joıned to clear glass. There ıs a Turkish style of doing this that is different from the Venetian way; they rake it before twisting so you get swirly twists.

13 September 2005

Golden Horn

I am writing this on the old bridge over the Bospheros where we are participating in IstDesign week. We have made an installation using about 500 wine and beer bottles wired together in huge rings. I wrote some pretensious rubbish about them being circles of cultural intermixing through the medium of glass. I have got into the Press tent to get internet access while waiting for the event to open. Deafening music.

I blew 4 goblets today and 2 yesterday. Pictures to follow. Am well pleased. They still are not straight, but better shapes.

12 September 2005

Factory day

Today we went into production making tumblers with little round Swedish-style handles. There were 6 stages and we worked as a team doing one stage for 20 minutes and then moving on to the next when the whistle blew. It was terrific fun, if a bit nerve-racking as you held up everyone else if something went wrong and you had to start again. But it went pretty well -- the idea being to work fast, as if on a production line and not worry too much about perfection. I'm not sure how many of them will have come out well, but I we made about 30 during the morning.

In the afternoon I started my wine glasses.

10 September 2005

A day in The City

So at last I have been to Constantinople -- so exciting in concept. But it is just another big city with too much traffic, too many people, too much hassle and too much tourism around the main sites. I did enjoy it, but I'm not sure how keen I am to go again.

Picture shows upvieeew of the Blue Mosque.

09 September 2005

Two steps back and one step forward

Couldn't get into any sort of rhythm today; just seemed to be blundering about. Two almost bottles - ruined at the last moment. The only thing I started to get the hang of was little curly bits going up the sides of my ruined bottles - don't know what they are called. Picture follows after our day in the City. Going tonight and staying all day Saturday. We will have our own guide and have decided by majority vote what to go and see. Not the Topkapi - but the other major places.

The picture shows Onur at the silver bazaar.

08 September 2005

The Stourbridge of Turkey

This area - Beykoz region - sounds like the parallel of Stourbridge. In the hot shop where we work are 6-7 factory workers churning out saleable objects - water jugs that look like hookahs, par exemple. When they finish the shift, they rinse out their T-shirts in the pipe-cooler and hang them to dry behind the big furnace. As in Brierley, there is a gaffer and his assistants. He can make a large jug without any reheats. In odd moments, the assistants pull cane.

I boxed 2 bottles and 2 baubles today - lots on the floor, but a good day because I understood something. Out to a resto en groupe in half an hour.

07 September 2005


Three types and methods of bowl-making demonstrated today. I put away three, of which one was much too thick. But I am discarding a lot when I know the set-up just isn't going to work, whereas in the past I'd have ploughed on because it was my turn. We're doing an hour each, twice a day as there are only 2 glory-holes (IGC had 6). I wonder how previous groups managed when they had 10 students ın the hot shop.

06 September 2005

My companions

On second thoughts, maybe I'm not necessarily the duffer. There are three who are pretty good. Miya, Amber & John. And two who are roughly about like me. Gamze & Yasmine. We have an hour blowıng ın the mornıng and the same in the afternoon. We are three to a chair, so there is some slack time, but actually bursts of an hour at a time are as much as one can take. Boyd ıs very good. He talks you through a piece, but he doesn't 'fix' ıt. So anything I take home with me really will be my own work.

[Picture added retrospectively - our group wearing the T-shirts that we designed by committee, with the poster I designed]

Cylinder day

Today we are blowing cylinders - wide, long and squat. The starting point for this is more familiar ground (blocking rather than holding the pipe up in the air) so I got on a bit better this morning and knocked off 2 squat ones and then 2 ın the afternoon. We're workıng much thinner than I am used to, which is hard, but what I want to learn. Stopped for a swim at 5 (as I did yesterday). It's warmer today so the pool was warmer. We're lucky - it is sunny with a light breeze. Pictures when member of our group refinds hıs password.

05 September 2005

Strange Turkish drinks

Under the influence of something called Raki (I think) - anyway a sort of Pernod - I report my day. Shared a bench with Gamze and Yasmin who are quite roughly the same level as me, and from Istanbul. I got 2 miserable specimens ınto the lehr: the others at the other bench who were producıng tumblers to perfection were chucking them all away. Why?

04 September 2005

Blowıng tumblers

Today we learnt a new technique for blowing straight-sided objects. Boyd's demonstration pieces were beautifully thin. We then had an hour each repeating and repeating the stages -- and several of the others were doing really well. Not me. I'm the dunce of the class. Stıll, could have been worse. Picture shows Boyd and Louise who is his teachıng assistant (from Sweden).

03 September 2005

Rainbow over Istanbul

As I arrived in Turkey for a fortnight of glassblowıng, a huge raınbow arc was spread across the bay against an unexpected grey sky. It is cooler than expected, but I will be hot tomorrow as we get down to work. 6 of us ın the glass-blowıng class and 5 doing fusing. Quite a small group, but that is good from my point of view. Am sharing a room wıth Debra from Trinidad.

[Image copyright 2005 john wilkes]