25 February 2007

Alvar Aalto

He of the famous glass vase (blown originally into a wooden mould, we noted). Went to the exhibition at the Barbican today and saw the vases and chairs and rather more architecture than I can take. Best idea for me was the exhibition space (designed by Shigeru Ban) which was boundaried by cardboard tubes. V agreeable effect.

24 February 2007

Marbling effect

I'm quite pleased with these. Done by manipulating some more pate de verre squares and pulling them over a bubble and then blowing them out. I have been trying marbling effects off and on for a while. I think this works because of the white glass -- acting like a white page, though I am not totally sure I like the opaque and transparent intermixed.

22 February 2007

Cast building blocks

My own cast blocks (done before visiting MRJ) were partially successful, though 3 out of 4 have cracked at the corners. Maybe this 'baby-sitting' idea has some merit. I like the effect of the pate de verre inclusions -- though after a useful session talking to Max Jacquard about them, I feel I could be more subtle in my approach. Limit the colour palette so it's more monochrome -- as in my working drawing; and more painterly as well. All based on my own spinal injury. I think I have a few more ideas, though, about widening out the possibilities.

20 February 2007

Glass quilt

Here we are at MJR Furnaces at the weekend helping Charlie and Tina cast some blocks for their glass quilt -- inspired by a fabric quilt -- inspired by The Gerkin. I don't look as if I was helping, but I was 'baby-sitting' the cast pieces as they cooled (tamping the moulds up and down on the marver) and opening the lehr door to put them away. Vita is filming. Quilter in the background. Interesting little tips learned, including one about sand-casting resist that I am not allowed to divulge. Interesting the recipe secracy that still goes on amongst crafstpersons.

17 February 2007

Triathlon engraved goblet

The brief for this engraving (not my own blown) was that it had to show the recipient in a triathlon event, his dog, and an interest -- I chose Poker. Quite difficult, but it all came together quite easily and the accuracy of engraving is my best so far.

16 February 2007

Mixing media

Ideas can come out of accidents. I'd made some pate de verre squares to use as inclusions in the sandcasting we were doing on Thursday afternoon. So in the morning I thought I would pick up one of them (pre-heated up to temperature) on the end of a bubble, wrap it round, case it in clear glass and open it out into a bowl. Jake took pictures - and the sheer stage fright spurred me on to get it more or less right. But the real point is -- and the pictures don't show it -- that it is a new effect and I could do something really quite interesting with it. I plan to have another go next week.

15 February 2007

At it again

Another batch of goblets (a little bit of cheating here, but at least I made them single handedly). And three bowls. Very tricky to get a nice even shape.

13 February 2007

Mark Bickers - visiting lecturer

An inspirational talk by this young man - 2 or 3 years after he did his MA at the RCA. I found it quite inspirational and had a very good tutorial with him in the hot shop in the afternoon. He is doing interesting things with cutting glass and then picking it up again and re-shaping in the glory-hole. It gave me ideas -- funnily enough I had been playing around with the mitre diamond cutter the day before. Picture shows one of his 'splash' bowls. Rather pleasingly -- he sang the praises of DACS.

12 February 2007

Woodworking workshop induction

Lovely new workshop and no woodworking students as such. This department is for use by various other 'pathways', including glass. So we have learned to use: the belt sander; disk sander; bobbin sander; bandsaw; little bandsaw; fret saw; pillar drill; cordless drill; glue gun; hot air gun; jigsaw; foam cutter; strip heater; vacu-form machine. I feel quite breathless just listing them all. Even if I don't remember exactly how to use each one, ideas for possibilities are opening up. At the very least, I will be able to make stands for exhibitions, perspex plate holders and various other things. All quite inspiring. And I am sure Stephen would be envious of someof these machines.

09 February 2007

Co[]ect - our old friend the cube

None of us was assigned optical glass for the jolly old cube project at Westminster, but here's one by Pavel Hloska with aluminium inclusions. I would think glued in sections, but very fascinating and very carefully made. Price tag of £9,450 of course. I wonder what the mark-up is.

Co[]ect - favourite 2 pieces

Show-stealers for me were this small wall of bricks made in a paperweight technique and then cut into blocks and painstakingly polished to a high glint, by
Oiva Toikka (and colleagues). And some disks of perfect optical glass with fused crescents of coloured, slightly striped lead glass - UV glued together. Brilliant optical effects. Pity I so dislike polishing as this kind of perfection shows the magic of glass at its best.

Co[]ect - technical chat

Had a good chat with Steve Klein who made this kiln-formed and blown piece - meant to be landscape but this silly program has its own ideas. He was very helpful on techniques. It takes him about an hour a hole to finish the necks of the round pieces which he knocks off from the blowing iron, having picked up a kiln-fused panel. He then grooves the amber stripes on a diamond wheel and the white ones on another - using different grits, which he told me. And then he smooths the finish with a clear oil, which again he told me the name of, but it was an American brand and I thought I could try baby oil first. Or google him in Portland's Bullseye studio and ask. Very friendly. Another chap told me exactly how he partially closed up a large blown vessel at the top and then made a hole right through and opened the top out again. But I forgot to take his name or a picture.

Co[]ect - goblets

Some goblet curiosities were a set of 'sculptures' set on blown and found wine glass feet -- not sure what the artist is saying here. And a Venetian-style goblet within a bottle by Richard Meitner -- a statement about the ultimate in non-functionality.

08 February 2007


Thank goodness I am at home today as I should not fancy driving to Farnham in this snow. This is Stephen outside our house skiing to work. What's snow got to do with glass? Well, not for the first time, it's struck me that glass and water share the same quality of being able to be liquid and solid and to manifest in various states.

07 February 2007

On centre

I watched Magdalena Odundo raising a coiled pot today and it struck me how different making glass and making pots is though both rely on being on centre. This was so physical, so close to the material; glass is always at arms length. And yet the importance of the thumbs in both activity are paramount.

03 February 2007

Making Your Mark exhibition

To Dan Klein's house to see the exhibition of four engravers/sandblasters -- very much my interest. I liked this one by Charmian Mocatta almost the best, partly because I liked the combination of her work with a kiln piece by Colin Reid. What was nice was being able to look very closely at how the pieces were done.

01 February 2007

My tools have arrived

How exciting is this! My tools have arrived from the States - can't wait to try them out next week. From the left: a sofietta, pucellas, diamond shears and a graphite pad. Note to self: be careful with that graphite as it breaks easily; and I do drop things all the time - easily done when you are rushing to use every second the glass is hot enough to work.