Like with most 'themed' exhibitions or competitions, the challenge was to make an attractive piece whilst respecting the brief and remaining true to my own style of work.
In order to be faithful to my passion for colour, I decided to focus on Sale Water Park, since it would allow me to combine two of my favourite colours: blue (for the lake) and green (for the surrounding parkland). I decided to inject blue and brown strips to represent respectively Bridgewater canal and the tramway line. I was ready to go...
I decided on the proportion of blues and greens and chose different shades for added interest. Then I placed down the squared pieces, paying careful attention to the balance of shades.
I then cut a sea blue strip (for the canal) and a brown strip (for the tramway line) which I placed on the side of the piece.
This proved to be a slow process, involving much cutting and careful positioning of each piece, but I really enjoyed the assembling which took me back to my mosaic-making days!
Although I was pleased with the assembled piece, I felt it needed a splash of bright colour to give the eye a focus. I therefore added a red and yellow sailing boat which would be at the bottom of the finished vessel.
Once fused, I cut off the corners of the piece so that it would fit comfortably on the dropout ring with no risk of any corner hanging down and wrapping around the mould when heated up.
I was pleased with the depth of the drop and the size of the bottom (no smirking, please!).
The most time-consuming and labour-intensive phase of coldworking was now to start...
First, I cut the rim off the bowl with a diamond cutter, a delicate operation which can result in chipping the glass if executed too fast. I later decided to re-cut the bowl to give it a quirky slanted rim.
The last phase consisted of grinding the rim on a coarse diamond pad in order to level it.
Using a finer diamond pad allowed me to smooth the rim further before it was polished on two other pads to achieve the desired shiny appearance.
The finished vessel: I'm totally chuffed with seeing it on display at the Waterside Arts Centre :-)
More examples of vessels here
Following the regular interest I've been getting regarding the designing and making of my pieces, I decided to put my 20-year teaching experience to good use and launch my 'Introduction to glass fusing workshops' in April. The five-hour course aims to teach about glass fusing by encouraging students to produce two or three pieces of their choice.
After a brief talk about safety and how glass changes in the kiln, we get straight into practising cutting the glass before we design and make our first piece: a coaster or a small hanging.
We will be using the same premier quality Bullseye glass from America as I use for my own work so that my students can benefit from its incredible range of colours and shades without worrying about glass compatibility.
As well as getting off to a good start with cutting glass sheets and piecing together designs, making coasters and hangings gives newcomers a chance to get acquainted with the full range of glass media such as sheets, powder, frit (crushed glass) and rods.
Whenever learning a new skill, I feel it is important to give everyone the opportunity to create something they will cherish and be useful as well as attractive.
So, after lunch, students choose a ceramic mould in which their afternoon piece will be slumped after being fully fused. They can choose between a candle screen mould, a large spoon rest mould or various square dish moulds. They can then design their piece in accordance with the mould dimensions and shape as well as the functionality of the piece. Students usually enjoy this opportunity as they can carefully plan the design to match a specific room or location.
It is fascinating to witness the individual thought processes and the focus with which students work as they go through each phase of the design and making. The small classes of four allow for individual attention and guidance and ensure satisfactory progress.
Above are the slumped pieces -dishes and a spoon rest- ready to be sent off to their proud makers :-)
Students' kit: pencil, rubber, ruler and pencil sharpener (for the design phase); right-angle ruler, cutter and safety goggles (for the cutting phase) and safety mask used when handling glass powder.
Students are also given a handout with the information covered on the course and the various firing schedules used.
This project started with a bare magnolia wall for which I wanted to create a piece of glass art. With plum sofas and olive green accessories, such as cushions and mirror, the choice of colours for the wall art piece was obvious.
The design would allow light through and therefore I would be working with transparent glass mainly. A mobile piece would also allow for variable light effects.
I decided the piece would be made of 5 hanging strings, each made of colourful rectangles and squares. I liked the idea of greens in the middle of the piece, surrounded with plum, pink and amber.
The picture above on the left shows the fully fused strips which I then cut into square and rectangular chunks with my diamond cutter.
I then drilled 2 holes in each chunk and threaded invisible fishing line through to link all the chunks together. I made a wooden pelmet which I painted magnolia and screwed small hooks on the inside of the front wooden strip around which I tied the fishing line with the five hanging sections.
I am really pleased with the result and the changing shadows on the wall.
The path leading up to the studio is now finished... hooray! It took 2 ton-jumbo bags of shingle pea gravel and a lot of back-breaking shovelling, but it looks neat and welcoming. I have purchased some plants to go in my colourful containers to add some colour in this very green garden. I am very pleased with the result and have already enjoyed a couple of late afternoons sipping a G&T at the garden table whilst the kiln was ticking away :-)
My glass studio is now finished and furnished and I can finally make the most of the fantastic space! I have just started digging up part of the lawn to make a path which I will cover with gravel as well as the area just outside the studio which will also have a table and chairs for those warm and lazy summer days spent with a G&T whilst the kiln is ticking away...
There is plenty of natural light inside the studio and the prospect of working with a view of the garden -even though it lacks colour at the moment- is very exciting.
I was keen to make the work space as practical as possible and organise my glass sheets in a convenient way. I have used Ikea Ivar shelving system as it is modular and good value for money. I have had MDF sheets cut which I have glued between the shelves in order to make a rack dividing colour sheets. I have put up Twin Slot poles for modular shelving against one side wall with Ikea drawer cabinets underneath. The other side wall has a 6-foot workbench with some grinding and cutting power tools with a small window and a 5-foot fluorescent tube above the working area for plenty of light.
My work table consists of a worktop sat on Ikea wooden trestles and is placed in the middle of the room in order to get plenty of natural light and enjoy the garden view. I am planning to purchase a wider worktop which will allow for 5 students to work comfortably together when I run glass fusing courses in the near future.
I now need to focus on the outside: lay down a weed barrier sheet on the soil and cover it with gravel. A few flower pots would add a touch of colour in this very green garden! Hopefully it will be done and posted in the next couple of weeks... Now it's time to be creative....
Candles are a must-have home accessory and most homes have a stock of unused candles which are waiting to be displayed with pride. Candles are a classy and affordable way of making your home more inviting and relaxing.
I design and make a range of candle displays to accommodate different home decors, settings and moods.
Check out my gallery to view more candle display items.
The Candle Bridge: elegant and makes an ideal centrepiece on a dining table. It comes in two sizes: to display one or three tealights.
Click here to view more candle bridges in my gallery.
The Candle Screen : designed with bright colours to stand out when the candle light shines through. It is a versatile item which can spice up a table or sit proudly on a window sill with natural light showing through.
For a more quirky design, there is the popular wavy candle screen.
Click here to view more candle screens in my gallery.
The Tealight Holder: similar to the candle screen but smaller, which is ideal for small corners and spaces. I design and make them as pairs since they look fantastic on a mantelpiece or window sill if you seek symmetry.
To see more examples of tealight screens, click here.
My sad and bland garden is now hosting a building!! The base is in place and the walls are up, which gives me a sense of the space to enjoy when it's finished.
The builders will spend the next couple of weeks putting the roof on, cladding the outside walls, insulating the ceiling and walls, plasterboarding, plastering, doing the electrics and the plumbing for the sink, guttering, putting the floor down and the skirting boards on. A busy couple of weeks which will seem like ages...
Final product in my next post...
I love the reflective quality of glass which combined with the range of colours Bullseye offers makes the whole creative and making process really exciting. I love how colour intensity varies according to the power of light shining through the glass. For that reason, I started exploring the idea of making glass sculptures which would stand on a base and could be placed in front of a source of light. Birds and fish seemed appropriate as they can display bright colours and always look cute in a home.
To make the mummy and baby birds above, I first designed the patterned blank -see left picture-which I then fused and cut into the shape of the bird bodies. I added red tails, wings and beaks. I then sandwiched 2 pieces of copper wire for the legs between the body and another layer of clear glass. Mummy and baby returned to the kiln where they were re-fused.
I then inserted the legs into a block of solid oak base which I had previously drilled... et voilà !
It took a little white before I was satisfied with the size and solidity of the copper wire which had to carry the weight of the birds made of 3 layers of glass.
Sourcing solid oak bases for the sculptures has not been an easy task either, but I am pleased with the rustic waxed look which contrasts with the glossy appearance of the glass.
Click here to view more fish and bird sculptures in my gallery.
Spoons are indispensable in the kitchen and dining room, but it is difficult to get hold of colourful, funky and unique spoons. So I decided to design and make my own fused glass spoons to add colour and fun to a jam jar, a sugar, condiment or ice cream bowl. These spoons are both functional and decorative and make elegant and unique gifts ready to spice up a kitchen or dining room. Each spoon measures 17.5 cm long by 3.5cm (head) and retails at £12 or the matching pair at £22. They are presented in a dainty gift box.
As usual, I start sketching the design. Unfortunately I do not have a wide enough range of hues in my colouring crayon set; so I decide on the glass colours and shades after sketching.
Fully fused spoons ready to be returned into the kiln and slumped into stainless steel spoon moulds at 670 degrees C.
Click here to view more spoons in my gallery.
I love these dainty colourful dishes! They look great as serving dishes for dip, sauce, salt and pepper, etc. and come with a cute little wooden spoon. As individual items, they can also be used as jewellery dish where you can deposit your earrings or rings before you go to bed.
I design and make them in matching pairs, which allows me to explore pattern and colour ideas and make these dishes ideal gifts as twin serving dishes.
As usual, I start by sketching the design and choose the colours and shades among my glass sheet stock.
I then cut the glass sheets and assemble the pieces according to the design.
The twin dishes are ready to be fully fused at 795 degrees C for about 10 hours.... whilst I'm fast asleep!
Straight out of the kiln, these little dishes are ready to have their edges ground to a sleek straight look before they are returned to the kiln to be fire polished.
The twin dishes are then slumped twice: first in a shallow mould and then into a deeper mould -see picture on the left- to achieve the desired shape.
The finished products....
Click here to view more small dishes in my gallery.
This Blog aims to share my passion for kiln formed glass as I explore the limitless possibilities of design and technique the medium offers.