31 December 2007

Happy New Year

Erm ... I'm sure glass must be used in some manufacturing process involved here - but, hey, if not life isn't all about glass. This is my New Year's Card, wishing everything good to anyone who reads this.

28 December 2007

66 plus 39

That's the number of glasses we used on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (our two family events) - that's 4 to 5 glasses per person table setting for each of two feasts; including my 18th century twists, Victorian coloured beakers and of course a different Janey-made goblet for every person at the table including young persons. I know: I washed them all up. The ghost bowl platters came into their own, growning with a cornucopia of fruit (pictured). Also pictured are the four I gave to son-in-unlaw no. 1.

19 December 2007

Savoy Sale

We went to the viewing of the Savoy auction - such fun. Lots of glass chandeliers, mirrors and lights. Sparkling glass in the bathrooms. Must have viewed several 100 suites. Fabulous views of the Thames. But I've been monitoring the lot numbers we were interested in and they are all fetching much higher prices than the catalogue estimates. The white piano that Frank Sinatra played on went for £9,500 (est betw £2-3000).

14 December 2007

Simon Bruntnell's calendar has arrived and here's the front with the month of December next to it with my BoneScape piece. How thrilling is that! My tutor says I must be well-connected. No, it's being at the right place at the right time and then seizing on opportunities. It also shows the importance of investing in professional photography because I was in his studio at the time he was thinking about his calendar. Very nice, though, that he chose my piece as one of his months.
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10 December 2007

A bowl of earrings

These are my 'port and starboard' earrings (well they would be if they were all red and green) - non-matching pairs. Didn't sell any of these at my open house (because I'd only just made them and this Saturday was very quiet), but 22 marbles went and 18 'bin ends' of very (very) seconds, and lots of pate de verre tree decorations. All in all a very satisfactory financial result, which will help me make this MA self-funding (since my fees are sponsored).

02 December 2007

Open House

A somewhat depleted table of wares on Day 2 of my Open House Christmas sale. I forgot to take a picture of the complete display, but about 8 items are missing from this table, including a large ghost bowl. Quite a few marbles have gone and even one or two from my 'lucky dip bargain box' of £3 items. I'm doing quite well, and it all helps to pay for the next lot of materials and something towards my fares to Farnham. The aim is that my MA should be self-funding. But it's also been pleasingly social, with people dropping in for a glass of wine and a slice of apple tart, and a chat. Not a bad way of spending a weekend.

21 November 2007

Solo Show at Shed-and-a-Half Gallery

photo by Andy McKillop

It rained and rained all day I was setting up and the brave 40 or so who came to the private view had their hair plastered to their foreheads. But there was a blazing fire down below and an atmospheric rooftop with my pieces glowing in the Sheds. One guest said, 'It was magic up there on the roof in the dark with the glass moving and reflecting the light. Great. Despite the weather it was a splendid place for it.' And another said there was a, 'sense that this was somewhere where ideas could flow around the room like butterflies - multi-coloured, wonderful and a little difficult to catch up with - and laughter and an entrance hidden from the world - and a rooftop surrounded with three-dimensional art'. So I think a success. And one piece (the smallest) sold and another one possibly reserved.

More at Shed-and-a-Half Gallery

17 November 2007

Paris through glass

The glass chandelier under the Chagal dome at the Opera and us reflected in the glass ceiling in the lowest storey.

A posh glass shop selling very upmarket cut flash glass. And a little batch of Biedermeyer chairs seen at a special exhibition at the Louvre (the reason I've included these is that they seemed worth stacking with my 'Why is a wine glass not a shoe?' train of thought in that the inventiveness of the backs made me think of shoe design rather than of wineglass design).

This 1st century AD Roman bowl made with little murrini surrounded by clear is the closest to my 'ghost bowl' technique that I've seen.

And through the glazed panels of the Gare du Nord, this amusing poster greeted us on our arrival off the first train to Paris out of St Pancras on 14 November.

11 November 2007

Colour samples

Spent much of the weekend making little colour samples so I have a record of all the colours I have acquired so far -- out of the packet and also mixed in different proportions with clear. I'm not really methodical enough, but it's been quite therapeutic - and it might be fun to see if I could encase them to make some marbles later. Or buttons.
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02 November 2007

The Artist's Statement

The MA 'taught' unit this semester is Theoretical Discourse, which I have been dreading since Day 1. I do not agree that 'without critical discourse your work is merely a hobby' (lecture no. 2). There are other forms of academic rigour beside taking the stance of a philosopher, politician or historian. So I am a bit kicking and screaming on this one.

A little exchange between myself and artist bookbinder Sarah Brown who made the piece pictured, entitled 84 Hours.

Me: Can I use your artist's statement for my MA essay because it adds a political dimension that the image, all on its own, does not convey.

SB: Certainly. Although I put a great deal of emphasis onto the craft skills, the most important part of my work is the idea. It is the statement, in my opinion, which moves it from being a craft piece to being a piece of art.

Me: But sometimes I feel it can become an alibi for the absences a viewer finds in a piece of work - hobbling the viewer's own uncluttered responses.

SB: Maybe it is more about the narrative of the piece. I find it interesting to read about the conception of a piece and its development, as opposed to what I am supposed to find in it.

I invite comments.

01 November 2007

Making moulds

This week I spent all my Farnham workshop time either drawing or making moulds for more pâte de verre bowls to pick up in the hotshop or life drawing - including an exceptionally difficult 2 hours trying to draw a skeleton -- nightmare of counting ribs and bones. Very good for me.

24 October 2007

100 years of Glass at Central St Martins

This three-person presentation on the development of stained glass romped through a century at the art school showing the teachers, their pupils and their work, beginning with Christopher Whall (whose book I had kept trying to read while at IGC). Quite interesting, but I thought they could have taken more of a bird's-eye view of the changes in styles and usage over the century and asked, 'Whither stained glass now?' - which did sort of come up in the questions afterwards. It emerged that architects in the UK are very unadventurous when it comes to commissioning glass as part of the building. Health & safety issues, and the high cost, being factors.
picture shows plan for Lethaby's building in Southampton Row which will give way to a new build in St Pancras in 2011

23 October 2007


What have we here: prosthetic devices for a hip replacement, knee replacement (the one like a nutcracker), shoulder replacement and I don't know what the one with the green tip is for. Heavy (titanium alloy) and rather sculptural. The hospital has loaned them to me my research so I have drawn them and am thinking. But I feel this leads me into cast glass which is just not my thing and it is important to find one's own voice in a new medium and explore that more fully. If the atrium demands a sculptural overhead piece, then perhaps I am just not the person to do it.

22 October 2007

Public Art seminar

I have just joined Craft Central which is a very useful organisation (that I didn't hear about through MA channels) and have come home from a very good seminar on public art. Apparently I should be charging a design fee -- but I kind of knew that and every situation is different and needs to be played out in its own way. However, useful to have a model brief and a model contract, which they gave us and which will be good to use as a template.

I can't really justify this picture of our own hand-gathered chanterelles mushrooms on glass grounds (though everything can count as inspiration) but it's what we'll be having for supper tonight. And jolly nice too.

19 October 2007

International Ceramics Symposium

Really terrible picture of a very engaging South African potter at work during the demonstrations at the Borrowing Heritage symposium which I dropped in on this week as it was being held at the Farnham college. Not many speakers actually did talk about cross-fertilisation - though one bemoaned the loss of his own heritage (in Uganda) due to Westernisation. But I found all the shapes and techniques personally inspiring. These incised traditional patterns, for example, would work in glass too - though a great deal harder to achieve, because in pottery you can rub out your mistakes and grave the lines again.
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13 October 2007

Guild of Glass Engravers AGM

There are always engraving glasses on sale at these occasions including these really quite nice reproductions of 18th century twists by the Roman Glassmakers. But they were just a bit too light in weight and yellow in colour - and after all I do have the real thing. However, I did fall for 2 Whitefriars lead crystal goblets blown for Laurence Whistler which won't be avaliable again as these were the last ones.
Interesting talks on verre églomisé -- the word is eponomystic deriving from Mr Glom (?sp) of whose technique (though not original) it was said things were Glom - ized -- sandblasting and stipple engraving. Chats with engraver pals. A good day out.

11 October 2007

Origin Craft Fair

Seen at Origin (2nd week) - collected for its resonances with the 'Why is a wine glass not a shoe' project (now abandoned). These witty wire shoes are by Cathy Miles.

I also quite liked this chandelier by GlassStorm. Quite liked. But at least everything at Origin was well made. It rather fell within what out first Theoretical Discourse lecture was about - has our society got its priorities right in its admiration of 'Art' above 'Craft'? Because 'Art' invests 'Meaning' in an object, the Frieze clientele ascribe a monetary value to match the alleged intellectual content (as in queuing up 2 hours to have a £20-note defaced in schoolboy fashion because it will then be saleable on the open market for about £200); whereas 'Craft' - Art's poor relation - betrays the labourer's hands and is therefore working class in the design hierarchy.

Frieze Art Fair Private View

The Frieze PV last night was entertaining - including such highlights as one of the Chapman brothers (busy defacing a £20-note) insulting me for the outfit I was wearing (was it my garish felt ring he didn't like?), and Jeffrey Archer and I exchanging, 'Call me old fashioned, but...'-type remarks. But there it is; I don't think this show should be called Frieze, but 'The What is Art Show'. Because the skills ineptitude on show generally is astonishing.
I've picked out 3 glass exhibits. Top: a pretty bead wall piece (no attribution nearby, but it was at least well made) but what is it and so what? (ergo, the title does add to the piece); bottom: broken bottles (no label again), yeah, yeah - postmodernist statement about the society we live in; right Rebecca Warren piece called 'Husband No. 7' with neon bulb, which I picked out as it rather matched my comments about the fair last year about all the wires and workings showing. I don't know if this is wit or just plain messy. If Grandchild No. 13 finds Husband No. 7 while clearing out the attic, I think they might bundle the lump of wood and trail of flex in a skip.

08 October 2007

Champagne cages

The pictures don't show it, but these are quite sculptural - glasses blown into champagne cages. They blow out where the cage divisions are to look like buxom bums. I remember trying this a year or so ago and didn't have enough control to do it. Still don't, but I'm getting nearer.

03 October 2007

Visioning Meeting no. 3

I presented a first idea to the team responsible for the RNOH interior today. I'm really not sure what they all thought. On the one hand, it seemed a solution to a problem with the half-way lobby wall that they had identified; on the other hand, that meant my piece would not fill the double-height atrium. Which disappointed those who want wow-factor (or so I thought). The architects are apparently expecting a quote for a 'treatment' for the outside and pavement areas in a few days so we decided to wait for that and see. Also, there is to be a glass 'something' in the residential courtyard. So glass is featuring in this new building quite a bit. I hope it is just a question of marrying up various schemes.

25 September 2007

Life drawing

Second week of life drawing was a little better than the first, but it is such hard work looking and thinking. And I don't know why I am posting this drawing as now it's on my screen I can see everything wrong with it. However, this blog is about logging my MA journey and it's got wobbly wine glasses and wobbly drawings as part of the warts and all process.

23 September 2007


The Brick Lane hub of the Design Festival - which was 100% East last year. Just a bit post-grad-showish. It's expensive exhibiting at these things and I felt unsure how many people were going to get their money back. Picked out a luminous optical fibre material called Glofab (top pic); a chandelier made of torn plastic bags - a companion to yesterday's rice noodle one; and the reincarnation chandelier (bottom) which is made of Indonesian animal bones and recycled wood. There were a couple of whacky wineglasses which I photographed for my collection, but I seem to be waning in interest on that front. Temporarily maybe.

22 September 2007

100% Design

I must have been at the show for 4 to 5 hours. A huge number of ideas-triggers - very inspiring. Pictured are a chandelier coated with Japanese rice noodles (very glassy) by IDEA ; shoal of ceramic sardines chandelier by Scabetti; Orofors crystal LED chandelier by Zero - [note to myself: I've got all the information somewhere]. But lots more including Sharon Marston optical chandeliers and Bocci chandeliers. To follow up personally:

  • Vitrafoil - peel on glass printing
  • Magscapes - magnetic wallpaper (not terribly attractive but clever)
  • various stainless steel mesh suppliers
  • Vitrulan - fabric made of glass (amazing)
  • Material Works - unusual stuff
  • modulor - more unusual stuff
  • materials - stuff for designers

Then on to the Bombay Sapphire installation at the Trafalgar Hotel (disappointing) but I did at least then see the Alison Lapper plinth in the Square.

21 September 2007

London Design Festival - 1

Did the Southbank circuit yesterday, starting at the Zaha Hadid exhibition at the Design Museum, where I was inspired by a chandelier looking like a swarm of insects, made of black jet beads strung on nylon cable. Couldn't get a decent picture of it. Then to the Oxo Gallery, the Bankside Gallery and various things in and outside the Festival Hall, including these hugely OTT Swarowski chandeliers. One of them appears to be wearing a wig. Impressive bits of glass, but not exactly original nor beautiful.

19 September 2007

Start of Year 2

After enrolment I spent the day joining the pre-dips' life class. I don't want to publicise my faltering charcoalings. It would be good for me to join this class. Helpful teacher who says I can slip in and out as I want. There are 4 glass MAs starting this year, so we are now a cohort - which is good. Poor things, though, they have been set a 3-week project to foster team-building across all the MA disciplines. I can see why this is theoretically a good idea, but I'm glad we didn't have to do it. Then some quiet solo blowing in the evening.

16 September 2007

Open House Weekend - Day 2

Another glass-encrusted day. Went to the top of the 'Gherkin' (30 St Mary Axe) to ogle the stunning views all round (with good cloud appreciation opportunities to boot). Also seen (but not allowed to photograph so here's one like it off the web) a set of totally beautiful chandeliers in Mansion House, which are cleaned once a year (remember that for the forthcoming hospital brief). Talk about wow factor! I don't think any modern installation can match those.

Took in a bunch of City churches, and an old Turkish Bath. Also no. 1 Poultry (built by Stirling) where we saw further views of the City (without stumping up £4.50 for a beer). Then on to Bart's Hospital West Wing to see the newly commissioned art, which included rather boring neon lighting round the stairwell window-frames. And this wood-incised wall in the cafeteria, which made me thing someone else thinks circles are pleasantly healing symbols for a hospital.