24 December 2008

Strictly Come Glassing

My Christmas card this year is a little booklet adapted from The Little Book of Why Glass - with additions and subtractions. This is the (topical) cover. As usual, I've made some, but most are being emailed in the form of a Make-it-Yourself kit. Here's a pdf of the finished booklet, but it's not very readable.

09 December 2008

Open House

This is the season of home sales and open studios, so I had one too. And jolly successful it was too. All the jewellery went, most of the Christmas decorations and some of the more expensive pieces found good homes too. People are still phoning up to ask about something they were thinking about. Recession? What recession? It's all been very encouraging from my point of view.

21 November 2008

Christmas show

I am going to be in this exhibition opening next week and am busy making Christmas decorations for it - little quasi mobiles of 5 snowflakes of different glass textures. Am having some fun though I cannot see this being a money-spinner as it is fairly laborious and one cannot charge very much.

19 November 2008

Contemporary Art Glass Museum of Alcorcon

An exhibition opens today in Madrid for which two of my pieces were selected on the basis of photographs submitted. The other one is pictured lower down the page - the theme was recycling. But the organisers never told me. So I didn't send them. And of course I am now not in the exhibition or the catalogue. I am extremely disappointed, as can well be imagined. And what makes it worse is that it is probably my fault. I should have checked the website, but I didn't realise that. I'd thought there would be an email.

13 November 2008

Rondel blowing

Some of these aren't actually 'round' rondels and some are views inside bowls, but I've started on the rondels for the hospital project. These were done at London Glassblowing and there's one really successful one and the others are variously nice to a little bit faulty. All in all, I'm pretty pleased but I can see that I am going to need to make quite a lot to get 20 that are right for the project.

30 October 2008

Private view

The piece in the window looked particularly effective at night - everybody said so. I made one sale and met the buyer from yesterday. A good crowd and everyone entertained with sushi and wine.

29 October 2008

Koukan Gallery

Everything is now ready for the private view of my duo show at the Koukan Gallery tonight. Looking rather better than I had anticipated. I think our work complements each other quite well and fills the space quite nicely. Shame we can't adjust the lighting a little better. BoneScape in the window looks really good at night when it is dark outside. I'm pleased to have it on view again. I have already sold one piece, the smallest and cheapest, but it all helps to cover costs.

22 October 2008

Bowes Museum

It's very difficult to take pictures of glass in museums, and there was surprisingly little glass at the Bowes Museum - lots of porcelain and silver. This is Bohemian engraved layed glass of the early 19th century. Quite an unusual colour. However, we had a good go at the junk shops in Barnard Castle (of which there were lots) and saw various tempting rummers. I resisted, though. I honestly don't need any more wineglasses. Is this a sign of growing up?

10 October 2008

Koukan gallery

They've chosen the same picture for the invitation as for the MA show. Perhaps I shouldn't have offered it - but it is effective and pertinent to our title. Mostly a different clientele too. I am doing this in hopes of attracting one of the gallery owner's architect contacts. It's a very attractive white space in which my work should look good (I hope). Quite different from The Crypt; perhaps better for glass.

02 October 2008


I haven't been idle. Three jewellery things are in progress. I am making a couple of chokers for an exhibition featuring recycled glass; a necklace was auctioned at the National Liberty Museum (attendance at the auction $200); and some jewellery is to go on show at the Christmas exhibition at the Koukan Gallery - where I am also going to have a duo show of larger work with a ceramicist from 27 October to 8 November. So I am working for that.

24 September 2008

Beginning a new era

This is me, clambering over the installation sculpture Slice of Reality by Richard Wilson during Open House Weekend. In the distance are the glass towers of Canary Wharf. Is this an omen for a future of financial success as a glass artist? We'll see. I have done spectacularly well in my MA. Not that that means anything. But I have spent a week or so relaxing a bit and thinking about what I want to do over the next year. No quick conclusions.

11 September 2008

And that's it

So here's the gate banging shut on my MA for the last time. But it's not the end. I'll be coming back as an alumnus (or should it be alumna?) to use the facilities and check in for advice. A very nice exchange with the chaps suggested a welcoming open door and a willingness to help in the future. And lots of positive comments on what I have achieved and done in the last two years. I needed that. So on my final day as a student, I departed with an upbeat feeling. Not a bang exactly; but not a whimper either.

05 September 2008

Final Show: 'not with a bang, but a whimper'

I don't want to end on a negative note. And maybe there's some upbeat news to come. But it's no good pretending the Final Show was a culmination of two years of work and a fine way to 'go out'. As an occasion it felt to me to be a bit of a damp squib and as an exhibition I found it unimpressive. I've no good photos of my work and was bothered that my goblet wasn't on the higher plinth I had painted for it. It was too low on the ground. Also, all moved to the back of the gallery. Should I try a bit harder to look for positives? Well, let's let a few days pass.

28 August 2008

All work presented

This is a watercolour of my visualisation of my MA Final Project - the now commissioned piece for the reception desk of the new Bolsover Street hospital outpatients department. The storyboard detailing the whole project, the model, a sample panel, background notes, and the obligatory 'critical appraisal' (which I have done in unconventional manner) are all awaiting inspection in the MA room. Downstairs in the gallery, I have laid out my giant goblet and my Four Seasons quartet - the hanging committee will make the final decisions today about where everything is to go, but I am again in prime position - the first thing you see on entering the gallery. How do I feel, now it is all over? A bit flat. But I am taking my new motto from what the Isle of Wight blower said at the weekend: 'My best work will be done tomorrow.'

25 August 2008

International Festival of Glass

It was nice to be in Stourbridge again - a happy place for me. Lovely to see Brierley Hill colleagues - I reached a tally of 19 of them, about 9 Farnhamites, 4 Westminsters and at least 30 other assorted meet-and-greet friends from glass circles. Of course everyone interested in glass would be there, but it did seem amazing when I didn't know anyone four years ago at the very first biennale. Pictures show a glass frock, 2 biennale pieces, amazing Egyptian glassblowers, and Isle-of-Wight demo. I fell for the microwave kiln-lette demo and bought one, which I look forward to using. The biennale winner was a fellow MA from Farnham, as was the student runner-up prize, which is very chuffing for Farnham and so good news for everyone at the college (or would be if the press release had acknowledged it). A weekend of parties with barbecues, chocolate fountains, lots to drink and lots to look at and talk about. Really enjoyed it.

19 August 2008

I must be mad - continued

Three readers of this blog, plus personal married-to advisor said go for the shorter (better proportioned) goblet. Reader, I didn't. Somehow it seemed a bit squat when I had all the parts assembled. I had every intention of taking the advice - not least because I wasn't sure the whole thing would stand up with the extra part of the stem, and a very tenuous joint to the foot. It was standing when I left college yesterday. I felt literally sick with anxiety as I pieced it together. Not totally unlike the chalk working drawing.

I don't think I have explained its purpose. It is for the MA Final Show as an installation goblet: 'We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart' [Hamlet] and it will contain a cocktail of research notes, exhibition catalogues and sketches – all absorbed in the course of the two years. This both represents the MA exploration and refers to a mild obsession with wineglasses that this blog testifies has been a themesong.

10 August 2008

Liverpool glass

Here recording a trip to the City of Culture through a handful of pictures of glass S happened to take. From top left: a glass shelf in the Bluecoats gallery (good crafts outlet); Victorian architecture reflected in glass opposite; stained glass panel of St George and the dragon in the monumental St George's Hall; Piper/Rentiens lantern of the Metropolitan Cathedral; Gathering Light exhibition of International Women's Glass Workshops; 1929 sandblasted doors of the Phiharmonic Hall. Nothing glassy in the Klimt exhibition. Interesting few days; lots of tramping about.

06 August 2008

I must be mad

After two days of grinding, spirit-levelling, fitting, pondering, being frustrated, wondering what I am doing, etc, etc., I have arrived at a dilemma about my giant goblet - here shown roughly photoshopped in two versions. I wanted it as large as possible to make a statement, but are the proportions better if I leave out the long stem and stop at the baluster section? It looks a bit odd and floaty in the picture, but I left myself in as an indication of scale. I rather wish I had taken the bits home now to ponder over, because I can't go in next week as they are having a deep clean on my regular days. I didn't because I was so exhausted by the end of the 2nd day and felt I'd risk dropping it if I tried to take it to the car. That did happen to me once.

03 August 2008

Four Seasons - blown out

In the same order as the pâte de verre blanks. And with the 'germ' pieces inside - this is how they are being exhibited at the Final Show. At the time of making, I thought, ho hum. Does this add anything to the originals? I'm a bit disappointed and it's my own fault. They are rather chunky and heavy. I should have stuck to my first plan which was to open them out more. On the other hand that would have taken longer and really I might then have outstayed my welcome and my gaffer would have said he had to get on with his own work. And summer could have had some twist - I said not to because I wanted the sun to stay as it was. There is one bonus - the extra glass is creating nice optical effects and you can see the ghost original reflected three times.

01 August 2008

Three Seasons

Me doing the easy bit again - couldn't get a picture of me blowing, which is a shame because I like the fact that my breath has at least inflated my work. I've called in a long-outstanding favour at London Glassblowing, and again learned a lot about different techniques. I now see more clearly how I can prepare my pieces more effectively. Spring broke off on the punty because the green pulled out, but autumn and winter I think are going to be very nice and summer went a whole lot better than expected. So it's three seasons now. Or where has my springtime gone? Actually I don't think I showed it, but I was half crippled with back pain by the third bowl and can't move today.

29 July 2008

Collaborative processes

This is my 'drink deep' goblet chalked out on the workshop floor - to be constructed in seven parts. And here we are blowing the outsize bowl (I'm doing the easy bit) - just in case anyone doesn't realise what a collaborative business this is. I'm really lucky to have so much support. I don't know what they think of my concept, but they're up for it. The idea is an installation goblet on the quote 'We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart' [Hamlet] which will contain a cocktail of research notes, exhibition catalogues and sketches – all absorbed in the course of my two years. This both represents the MA exploration and goes full circle to my obsession with wineglasses.

26 July 2008

Four Seasons - blanks

Here they clockwise: autumn, winter, spring, summer. Ready to be blown out - though I fear I am pushing my luck. But nothing venture, nothing gain. I have thought quite carefully about how the colours will behave this time, and have (I hope) anchored some of the more volatile ones so they don't run away. But it's not easy to predict. Winter is the one I am most looking forward to. I think it will be cool, and a little bleak, but with optimistic flashes of glowing gold. I'll be reporting back.

25 July 2008

Not glass; but bones

I'm not the only person interested in bones. This is called 'Untitled Monument' and is by Jodie Carey and I saw it at the Anticipation exhibition in the basement of Selfridges - a new venture, I think in collaboration with Saatchi. It's made of plaster, wire and sugar paste icing and took 9 months to make. She must have to construct it anew each time she shows it. My 'bones' piece for RNOH has moved miles away from its original inspiration in bones - so much so, that perhaps it has become untraceable (though I know). Whereas a giant 'wedding cake' of obvious bones gives you pause for thought.

24 July 2008

Four Seasons - inspired by

This one is autumn. In the kiln now are winter, spring and summer - pix to follow. I was inspired by Cy Twombly and I think, like him, my year should begin with autumn. I've always seen it as the beginning of the year (the academic year, certainly). And also I am in the autumn of my life and I must view that as a beginning of a new cycle too. I hope to get all four blown out for the MA Final Show, but if that doesn't turn out to be possible then the pâte de verre originals aren't so bad and I could think of an interesting way of displaying them.

16 July 2008

Four Seasons

The Cy Twombly exhibition on at the Tate at the moment has given me an idea. With a fair wind, I would like to come up with a little 'Four Seasons' quartet of my ghost bowls for the Final Show of the MA - each one in the colours and mood for spring, summer, autumn and winter. The way the wind is blowing at the moment gives me a bit of hope that I will get some help, though everything is still up in the air. Can't say I liked (or understood) these large paintings, though if you take the trouble to read the pencil scribbles, there's a lot of poetry tucked away in them.
picture borrowed from the Tate website

11 July 2008

Exploding greenhouse

Just been to look at the Frank Gehry pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery - it isn't yet completely open and you can't see it properly, but someone has called it an 'exploding conservatory' which seemed about right to me (pic: Rex Features). Reminded me very much of a stage design I did for King Lear when I was at university - and I think that's not a complement to either of us.

10 July 2008

New Designers

I forgot to log my visit to New Designers - nice to say goodbye to the outgoing BAs and have a good look-round, but in truth I felt the whole show was all rather the same as last year. On stairs on the way out, though, I came across this 3D optical illusion, that seemed to move in front of your eyes until you got right close up to it and saw that the parts in this picture that look as if they are in the background, were actually sticking furthest out. Very clever object.