15 December 2006

End of term

I am looking forward to spending 3 weeks at home without the travelling, but I have to write my Research & Communications essay now. How to demonstrate discovering how to blow or thinking about molds (as in the pic) is something I haven't solved yet.

12 December 2006

Riedel wine glasses

Last night we went to the most amazing wine-tasting dinner party I have ever been to. There were three flights of wines -- 7 or 8 different bottles in each flight and we drank most of them out of these Riedel Chianti glasses. One of 126 differently-shaped bowls from the company, all scientifically tested for the ideal delivery of the bouquet to the nose and the liquid to the tongue. I think this counts as one of the most pleasurable aspects of my research. Yes, I think you can say it was information-gathering. Certainly the other guests (8 of us altogether) were hugely knowledgeable and we talked a bit about wine-glass shapes. The finale was a bottle of Chateau d'Yquem 1937 - totally delicious. I can't believe from never having tasted it before, I've now had two samplings in one year. Other astonishing wines too - Chablis, Nuits St Georges, Gaillac, Viognier; can't remember what they all were but I am hoping our marvellous hosts will send me the labels.

08 December 2006

Father Bear, Mother Bear & Baby Bear

A kind of a matching set (the blue ones) which I could develop as this sort of heavy-base style is something I can do without an assistant.

But I went to Patrick Stern's closing down sale yesterday and he blows the green ones on his own. I asked him how he did it. Research? I think so.

07 December 2006

Tuition at last

Really enjoyable 'tutorial' with my supervisor -- I had asked to have it in the workshop instead of an MA-progress one. He gave me a lot of time and it was really useful. I could feel myself soaking up everything he said and it making a huge difference when I tried again. We even did a blown foot together. Such fun! A few more of these and progress would be noticeable. I'm not saying these 2 (out of the 4 that evening that got into the lehr) are any less wobbly than others, but the bowls are better, thinner and more centred - done faster and mostly in one gather. So despair not!

05 December 2006

Inspiring the young

Had lunch today with two of the second years -- both gorgeous young girls -- who said I was an inspiration to them. That they thought I was decidedly getting better and that it showed them that it's never too late to learn something new. I suppose they had thought originally what was this senior personage doing in the hot-shop. But, they said, they'd watched me systematically practising cup shapes and been impressed. Well now! Then we talked about the madness of the glass-blower and agreed that you had to be a bit eccentric to be doing it at all. Such a capricious material, they agreed, and for them too, the challenge of trying to get it to do what you want is seductive.

01 December 2006


Yesterday I tried my first attempt at assembling a goblet from parts I'd made before and put in the 'garage' (as it's known). Needless to say, it didn't work. Allegedly, my punty was rubbish. Anyhow, I shall try again now I know what to do. I practised and practised punties after that and got a glimmer of light about what I have been doing wrong. It is like doing scales - the knowledge has to go into the fingers; it can't be intellectual. So here are some of the wineglass bowls I have made so far. Let's try attaching the other bits now.

27 November 2006

Guild of Glass Engravers AGM

AGMs are always tedious and this was no exception, but the two speakers, Caroline Swash and Claudia Phipps (picture of her window at Eton College) were an inspiration. I did think I ought to stop fiddling about with the blowing and shift to the kiln rooms. I'll never be any good at blowing whereas there's a chance I might have a voice of my own in architectural or installation glass. Another month concentrating on the narrow area I have grasped hold of and then it has to be decision time. Possibly the essay writing will help clarify my mind.

18 November 2006

Like sugar; like glass

I wonder if you could make something like this out of glass. I think the lattice part of it should be possible. This is done in a croquembouche mould (?sp) and we know the theory of how that's done in sugar as of last weekend. So can I put the weekend down as research then? Everything is research, really.

It's time to get serious now and knuckle down to the academic part of the MA and dig myself in to 'Why is a wine glass not a shoe?' Am quite enjoying playing with my proposition. But I'll have to limit it. Maybe even boil it down to 'Why glass?' Posted by Picasa

15 November 2006

Glass, historic cookery and windows

What have all these in common? A rivetting weekend is what. Two days spent learning a great deal about Georgian and Regency cookery in Cumbria -- not all that much about glass, it has to be said, except that our wonderful and hugely knowledgeable mentor and host had not come across a book on what glass shapes go with what drinks, though he did (interestingly) think the fashion element crept in with the industrial revolution.

Then on to York where we admired the glass in the Minster as well as the set pieces in the Glory of Glass exhibition in Fairfax House (historic food done by our new friend, Ivan Day).

10 November 2006

Week 9 at Farnham

Have dropped my camera, so no pictures this week. But nothing to show anyway. I've spent all available time in the hot shop practising and practising. Why don't I just give up now and turn to something I could be good at? I don't know. But I am making some sort of progress; my set up of the bubble is decidedly improved. And if I am not getting anything into the lehr, it's partly because I have become more discerning and more prepared to throw away a piece when I can see it's going to be no good. At Brierley, there was some pressure to bang on to the end and box it because otherwise you would lose your turn. So what I am doing now is a bit like practising scales.

04 November 2006

Debate at the V&A

Very peculiar title (grammatically) which none of the four speakers really addressed. No one mentioned truth to the materials or authenticity of the object; it was all about sincerity of the artist. But it was also about fragmentation of the self. And the last speaker used it as a springboard to advertise Creative Commons licensing now that -- his view -- the internet was robbing authorship of its authority and therefore of authenticity. Made my blood boil.

03 November 2006

Day returns to Farnham

What an exciting picture, eh! 20 hours just travelling this week -- that's four day returns to Farnham. Today I am regrouping and getting my strength back. But it was a good week with an exciting day on colour yesterday. Below -- a roll-up and one of my sandcast pieces that I sliced up on the diamond saw and then fused in the kiln. Really good kiln equipment at Farnham. Yes, it is worth the journeying.

31 October 2006

Visiting a Brother

Glass events this weekend included Salisbury Cathedral's wonderful stained glass windows -- understated and refined -- and a visit to Bro. Sally Pollitzer's workshop. This is a room divider she has in her kitchen. Nice effect. Fun looking at her acid etching experiments.

Unfortunately, our car broke down on the way home and is now in hospital, probably never to recover. So it's day returns to Farnham for me -- 2 and a half hours each way. Won't be able to keep that up.

26 October 2006

Week 7

We're half way through this term and I have finally had an MA tutorial. We seem to have agreed that my project (wineglass/shoe) had sufficient academic rigour so I am going ahead with it. What I don't want to do, though, is get into the whole business of mind maps. Been there; done that and it doesn't work for me. The point being, I suppose, that I have to knuckle under and overcome an ingrained disaffection for academia. Also had a chat with the glass supervisor whose favourite question is 'why?' Why do I want to blow drinking glasses? I don't know. Because I don't know if I can. I just can't seem to leave it alone. I suppose I want to see how far I can get with an impossibly difficult medium. And I did have a bit of a break-through this week.

21 October 2006

Bloomsbury Festival

Glitzy afternoon and evening -- has this got anything to do with my glass MA? In the sense that being open to inspiration is what it's about, then anything is. Went to Open House at the Horse Hospital, Artworkers' Guild, Foundling Hospital, Dickens's House, a light festival in Coram Fields, culminating in acrobatics on the walls - yes, the walls - of the Brunswick Centre. Then down under the building for a champagne reception. This would make a superb exhibition space and is allegedly relatively inexpensive. Plenty of food for glass thought.

19 October 2006


It's hard work, but someone has to do it. I'm researching the cocktail glass for a project that I am currently titling 'Why is a cocktail glass not a shoe?'. So I took Vita off for an evening of learning how to mix cocktails in the Bombay Sapphire Glass House - also to see the exhibition of last year's shortlisted glass art. I'm thinking of trying to design a glass for the next one. Posted by Picasa

18 October 2006

Work in progress

Quite a good day today; divided into groups of about 10 and then everyone gave a 10-minute presentation of their work and aspirations. General discussion ensued. I found it very interesting, though it was always the same suspects doing the talking. I think this will bed down as we get to know one another. The MAs all seem a talented and thoughtful bunch of people and there isn't the usual annoying wild card anywhere in site. Most unusual. Posted by Picasa

16 October 2006

Making art fun

This is me on one of the bicycles provided at Battersea Power Station for the China Art show. The art itself (almost all faintly tedious video apart from a wall caging in 30,000 apples) wasn't as exciting as experiencing the building itself.

After that we went to Origins at Somerset House (formerly Chelsea Crafts Show -- and why didn't they keep at least part of the old title. 'Origins' indeed! Sounds like Accenture, or Consignia-type naming - don't get me started! Anyway, a good crop of finely crafted items. A real relief after Frieze.

14 October 2006


The red bit marks my spine at T6 where the vertebra has been completely crushed intoa cake slice. I learned this week that I am officially 'deformed'. A bit of a facer. I have been wondering how I can make a glass piece to express how I feel about it.

The MRI scans are rather attractive.

13 October 2006

Seen at the Frieze Art Fair

Went to Frieze with 2 MA colleagues.

I really liked these two. A concave stainless steel, well, mirror, really by Anish Kapoor and a dichroic light sculpture by Olafu Eliasson. For the rest ... call me old-fashioned but I just couldn't see the point. A lot of porn, lots of repeating ideas clumped together in identical frames, gaudy daubs by people who didn't seem to know what paint is, and above all badly made stuff rather poorly presented. Two examples below: Some badly glued together twigs that the gallery chap spent ages trying to get to stand upright; responding to a question, he said it was a sculpture representing 'fragility and hesitation' ... hmmm. And the other picture is of visible workings of a not-very-interesting moving sculpture. I suppose they think people don't actually look at art in its setting.

11 October 2006

Working solo

Monday afternoon, Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning I spent working on my own in the hot shop. The Artist-in-Residence tried to teach me how to bring myself a punty, and I did manage to punty-off a few times, but never on centre and not at all successfully. I don't think I am going to manage very well without a partner. But I don't really mind practising getting a good gather and a good bubble for another week or two. Everything is still too thick at the neck.

06 October 2006

Third week at Farnham

Last week's two sandcast pieces, partially cold-worked. Three more attempts at sculptural forms are in the lehr. I've also boxed two blown items -- not many, but I'm not concerned about keeping them just now; it's time to get more fussy about what's worth putting away. The secret of getting going at this college is to collar someone to give you an induction to each workshop; otherwise you can't do anything. So I've now notched up the hot-shop and the first cold-working room. So that's 2 more cold-shops, the kiln-room and the plaster room to go. It'll all happen.

02 October 2006

Rainbow omen

This is the third autumn running -- at the start of a new academic year -- that I have seen a rainbow. I saw this one as I drove back from college and it obligingly waited for me to turn off to Catherington so I could get out and photograph it. Surely a good omen. cf 29 September 2004 (rainbow over Malvern Hills) and 3 September 2005 ('Rainbow over Istanbul', scroll down).

29 September 2006

Second week at Farnham

One of the tutors mentioned Catherine Hough, so I went and had a look at her work - beautifully made organic forms in clear glass. Does it give me ideas? Don't know.

I managed to squeeze into the workshops 3 afternoons last week - a bit more sandcasting, and two little solo blowing sessions, which were quite good for me because you can't make anything without a partner, but it was useful just to practise a few manoeuvres without being observed. Seems hotter than in Brierley Hill. Posted by Picasa

23 September 2006

London Design Week

I thought the Bombay Sapphire Prize exhibition was the best of the four shows I went to. There was real quality here - interesting ideas and well-made pieces. I liked this mirror piece by Kazuo Taguchi; similar sort of thing to my lens river - using light and reflections. What I didn't like about it was that each mirrored curve was glued to the wall - so had to be built in situ.

100%East also had innovative design, though some of it tried too hard. Interesting(ish) light book by Mirko Kisser -- allegedly 'the contemporary citation of the ancient scriptures' ; each page being 'pure enlightenment'.Posted by Picasa

22 September 2006

CLA's river warming

They did me proud; really nice drinks and canapes to celebrate the installation of 'Ampersand River' jointly with an office warming. I was very well supported by glass colleagues and friends. Genuine positive feedback that I even believed. Some professional photos taken - this one of me isn't too bad.

21 September 2006

Tate Modern and Chelsea Art School

We went as an MA group to get inspiration from artists in the Tate collection and to see what the MA students at Chelsea had made of their course at the private view of the final show. A group bonding afternoon. I'm trying to be open to anything.

Wrote it up later at http://www.editor.net/200words-in-the-right-order/tate.html with a link to the two items that it was suggested we selected that somehow 'spoke' to us.

20 September 2006

First two days at Farnham

First day - chaotic, but I suppose one expected that, though not the unwelcome vista of academic pressure opening before me. Almost ready to leave there and then.

Second day - the pictures say it all (pouring and mould beforehand). I 'rescheduled' the IT & library inductions and went to the BA sandcasting class because that was the only way I could get to a hotshop induction. And without that, you can't start doing anything. Seemed more important.

05 September 2006

My latest pate de verre

Here something I did this week. I think it's called 'Feathered Shell'. I also think I wouldn't have made this a year ago, let alone posted it up. And I think I'm getting corrupted and am starting to like useless 'art' objects that make puzzling statements where before I was all purist and functionalist. Something's happening -- is it good or bad? Posted by Picasa

30 August 2006

At the International Glass Festival

Favourites at the Biennale and workshop demonstrations - yes, I know one of them is me, but people did come in and watch and obligingly clapped at the end when I boxed a goblet. Elio Quaris, with 60 years experience at Murano, was obviously much more exciting to watch; we were hooked by him, and his ballet of helpers, for hours.
Pix of exhibition items we liked: Phil Vickery, Sally Dunnet, Anthony Scala, Katharine Coleman