Images on Glass Course – Final Week

Firstly an update on the pieces that were fired during the week.

Screenprint after firingAs you can see the screenprinted images using black ink have worked well.  Sadly the blue ink is fairly pale on most and the orange ink has in most places burnt away.  Personally I love the unpredictability of some areas in glass and it’s why there’s a need to test everything as you go along and continually learn.

My small Teddy Wolfe images have been stuck together and will be fire again into a stack (see below).  Which, with a little bit of hard work and a grinder to neaten up the edges will, hopefully, mean that I have a sort of 3D image of the picture.

Our tutor also had back sheets of decals using images that we’d emailed to her.  I wanted to use some black and white images of my parents.

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As this was our final class in the course, today our tutor encouraged us to re-explore the different methods we’d learned in the short course.

I concentrated mainly on using the decals we’d had printed and screenprinting.  I was keen to revisit the idea of screenprinting one image and then laying them over each other to create a multi-dimensional image.

So that the images would be as close as I could get, to being in same spot on each piece of glass, I first set up my screenprinting area.  Under the screen I taped a piece of cardboard from which I’d cut the size of the glass pieces.  Masking tape was stuck around the image I was using on the screen.  The screen was then stuck to the table at one end and then each corner marked out once again with masking tape.  The rest was up to me and my dodgy eyesight!

IMG_8969First the area is ‘flooded’ with ink by carefully dragging the ink over the area.  Then the glass is placed under the screen (in the cardboard slot) and ink is pulled over.  As my images have incredibly thin lines I dragged the ink over it several times, hoping that it would be a clean thicker line without being smudged.

This time, instead of firing the pieces and then stacking them, I chose to leave the images to air-dry and stack them for a single firing.

Stacking GrannyEeek it was mightily difficult to get it lined up perfectly!

Some of my peers in this final class concentrated on using powders on glass.  Others drew with enamel and then used powders and frit.  Some used their decals and screenprinted.  Here’s a selection of what’s being fired this week (including a batt of my stacks).

IMG_8973 IMG_8972Fabulously diverse and once again will be interesting to see what comes out from the firing.

Finally we lay out a selection of our pieces that we’d finished so far on this short course.  (Obviously there are some in for firing during this week and attendees will need to pop back to the college to collect them).

IMG_8971I think you’ll agree there are some wonderful pieces demonstrating different methods.  Certainly something I’m keen to understand further and do more of but most of all I can honestly say we’ve had a huge amount of enjoyment on the course.  Thank you Richmond Adult Community College our tutor, Monette and not forgetting the technician, Sally, who ensures our pieces are fired for us.

Images on Glass course – screenprinting

Today’s excitement was to learn how to screen print a photo onto glass.  Below are two images drawn by Edward Wolfe that I chose to use.  Our tutor resized our emailed photos and printed onto transparent plastic sheets ready for our class today.

Images on Glass sp1First we prepared our canvas with photo emulsion.  This was applied in a thin layer by pulling the photo emulsion upward using a trough to evenly spread the emulsion over the screen.  This is then immediately placed on a dark shelf (with no light) to dry.  This will absorb the image once exposed to light.

Images on Glass sp2Once dry, we readied the light box by warming up the bright light and positioning our sheets of images.  Quickly we transferred the now dry screen and placed this over the images, covering quickly with blackout material.  Finally we put old heavy telephone directories on top to keep it in place whilst the image is exposed.  3mins and 20seconds later we switched off the light box.

The final step was to remove the screen from the light box (with fingers crossed) and to take it to the sink.  As we watched the screen be showered with water, the images started to emerge.  Witchcraft!

[I was doing the ‘washing’ so didn’t get any pictures of our screen at the final stages]

Images on Glass SP4Finally with the images now on the screen, it was time to create some enamel paste and to screen print them onto glass.

Images on GlassSP6Different results with different colours used.  Below are a selection of the glass with images from the group awaiting firing in the kiln.  (You will see that I reused the red striker glass that hadn’t shown the orange powder before – let’s see how it works).  (Also one of my classmates reused a powdered image with screen printed text on top.)

We’ll all have to wait until next week to see the results.

Images on Glass SP7Finally, our tutor also showed us a slightly different method to utilise multiple colours via screen printing.  You apply the enamel colours in splotches over the image.  Then a line of the acrylic medium and pull the squeegee dragging the medium first and picking up the enamel but forcing both through the mesh.  Again an interesting image created and I’m intrigued to see how that will look once fired.

Images on Glass SP11

Images on Glass course – Glass Powder

My second week on this course our tutor showed us to apply images to glass using powder.  Using different mesh levels we saw how to use objects to create an image.  Sticking paper to the mesh, drawing with wax crayons and freehand sprinkling of powder.  Al these methods give different results.  Thickness of the glass powder.  Layering colour and depth.  Refined sharp edges and gently smooth, smokey sprinkling.

Below are images of our tutor demonstrating a couple of techniques and the middle picture is the fired glass with the images burned into the glass.

Images on Glass11Below are a few of the classes attempts prior to firing.  You can see we’ve used different methods and differing levels of artist expertise too!

Images on Glass12Post firing below.  I was pleased with the orange powder over black bullseye glass – I hadn’t been sure if it’d disappear into the black.  However the same orange powder did disappear into the red striker glass to leave just a solid fired red tile!

Images on Glass13My attempt at creating an image by drawing with wax crayon onto the mesh (red bottom left picture).  Then the powder was gently applied (orange and yellow – top left picture).  The other two images show the fired finished glass.

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Images on Glass course – Decals

I started a new glass making course at Richmond Adult Community College – “Images on Glass”.  No surprise but I’m already loving the course and it’s only week 1.  Three more Saturdays of exploring and experimentation with different methods of applying images to glass.

First and foremost a quick introduction for ‘newbies’ to types of glass to use (Bullseye or Float), compatibility and how to cut glass.

This week we rummaged through an old box of decals and found our images to practice with.  I selected poppies as I loved the vivid red but was unsure whether it would remain so vivid once fired.  (I did say there was experimentation, right?).

We painted on other glass with enamels (mixing with acrylic media (water based and gloss)).

Another method was by using leaves and grass.  We made prints from them by rolling ink over the leaf/grass and then rolling this over the glass to leave the image on the glass.

One further experiment was to see if we were able to create our own ‘transfers’ using enamels, contact paper and leaves.  We printed a leaf onto paper.  Then covered this with sticky paper.  With the back of a spoon we rubbed the image right into the sticky paper.  Next we ran it under water and rubbed the paper away, leaving the image on the (now not) sticky paper.  Once dry, the stickiness returns.  This was then stuck onto glass, like a homemade transfer/decal.

A selection of images prior to being fired in the kiln.

Images on Glass decal 1Below are photos of our glass images after firing.  As a group we used different decals, painting techniques, colours and depth.  Sadly (and oddly) the experimental own transfer/decals didn’t work – the images had disappeared.  I’m going to try it again before the end of the course as this SHOULD work so we’re not sure what happened.  Watch this space.

Images on Glass decal 2I was also intrigued to see what would happen to some of my images if I stacked them and refired them.  I stacked (with 2 layers) some handpainted glass tiles.  I stacked (with 3 layers) butterfly decals.  And totally as an experiment I didn’t think would work was 7 layers of poppies!

Below top left is the firing tray loaded with stacks and the remaining pictures are post firing.  The one that worked best was the poppies.  Next job is to grind and polish the edges and then I’ll show you the 3D element to the stack.

Images on Glass decal 3

Glass update…

Before Easter I nervously left a big plaster mold with pieces of glass and drips of enamel on a shelf waiting to be fired in the kiln.

Today I retrieved the fired plaster block and carefully put it, upside down, into a bucket of cold water to soak.   Gradually and very gingerly I picked at the plaster removing it bit by bit.

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Yes I did manage to cut my hand the process!

But this was what was revealed.

IMG_8667Next steps will be sawing off the ‘reservoir’ base and then a great deal of handwork to remove the little sharp edges around the sides and polishing up the finished product.

I’m super pleased with it so far but also extremely nervous to handle it so as not to knock any of the ‘coral’ shards from the piece.  It’s fair to say though that it’ll be something to be admired rather than touched… particularly by people with small hands!

I love it and think it represents what I wanted it to do, ie coral moving in the ocean.

Wish me luck with the delicate clean up!

Golfing… again

After dusting down the golf sticks, cleaning up the golf shoes and finding my glove, I’m back.

Well when I say ‘back’, I mean I’m attempting again to learn golf.  A friend’s girlfriend has decided to learn at the course across the road from me and I’ve joined her for beginner lessons.

So we’ve finished the series of 4 beginner lessons and are now on our way to an ‘improver’ course which starts in a few weeks.  I was actually surprised how much I remembered and am still able to hit the ball – and for it to be roughly where I was aiming for it to go!  I’m loving it.

Another local friend has also joined the golfing revolution and is taking the beginners course now with the hope of finishing that course and joining us on the improver course.  Hehehe soon there will the three novice golfers out on the course!  Watch out world.

Learning Taxidermy

I’ll start with a warning… this post isn’t for the squeamish!

Some of you know what I did a few weekends ago.  Many of you don’t.  But all of you know that ‘The Wallace’ is always up for new adventures and trying new things!

So what did The Wallace do today? I learnt how to taxidermy a mole! Mr Mole is currently ‘setting’ and shall be introduced to you later!

Our taxidermy course, run by A Curious Invitiation, was held in a special location in Soho. Sebastian Horsley’s old flat. Despite Sebastian dying in 2010, the flat is still much the same as when he was there and still filled with his possessions, including his shampoo and half used nail polish in the bathroom cupboard!

I love this description of his flat “His flat was one of those perfect places – a tight, wooden space that oozed a sparse, bohemian danger. There was the rack of skulls on the wall, which added to that air of living on the edge.”

I understand he was a man who had three muses, all called Rachel and all were Page 3 models! Also a fan of prostitutes (and one himself for a while) he was quoted as saying “The air used to be clean and the sex used to be dirty. Now it is the other way around. Soho has lost its heart.”

So here’s the sign that used to be on the front door of his Soho flat and also the selection of human skulls!

IMG_8304 IMG_8332So that’s the bit even the squeamish can read and see.  Look away NOW if you’ve got this far but not really sure why!

A friend of mine loves taxidermy pieces.  I’ve never been quite sure about them but his house is full of different animals from around the world in different sizes and poses!  Odd but perhaps not as odd when you hear he’s a medic!

A while ago he asked me if I’d like to join him on a taxidermy course.  I of course said “No”  “Ewww” and such noises that were a definitely ‘you’re having a laugh’ kind of way of saying definitely not! Then he called me again to say he’d found a course and just before he books it, did I want to join him.  Ha, he knows I’m a “Yes girl” really!  I’m in, booked and going before I can think more about it.

Today was the day and I have to say I was more than a little nervous.  Not about the course particularly but more that I wasn’t sure how I’d cope and if I’d throw up!  We met early and when into Soho to do some shopping and have lunch.  I now know he was more nervous about it than I!  Both concerned that we’d best line our stomachs for an up-chunder but concerned that we didn’t want to be too full, just in case.

We nervously rang the buzzer and went up to the flat.  Greeted by a table set up for 4 novice taxidermists and a teacher with 4 shiny moles and a rat looking back at us.

During the day we chatted about life, the universe and, of course, preserving animals.  I was surprised that the teacher was a vegetarian and stressed that the reason she did taxidermy was that she wanted to preserve the animals for ever and to make them once again look beautiful.  Oddly hearing this put me at ease with what I was currently doing!

The process was actually fairly simple, not smelly and surprisingly not gross.  If you do it correctly you can cut down the mole’s tummy (carefully not removing fur) and then by gently peeling it back can remove the entire body sack of organs without anything spilling or oozing out!  I had one tiny rip but managed to contain the ‘flow’.  Biggest surprise for me was the size of Moley’s tongue (second row, third picture)!

Once the body sack had been removed, we then removed the back of the brain and the upper parts of the limbs.  Leaving the hands and feet loosely hanging on a very soft skin.

Moley then went for a bath, wash and blowdry and left to air for a short while.  Following this we carefully applied preserving liquid and borax powder.

Taxidermy 1The next step was stuffing the little chap and wiring his now saggy body.  We places wires into the arms and legs and through the hands and feet.  We then wrapped another wire with cotton wool and wrapped that in yarn – this should be the size of the body cavity.  Tying carefully the ‘limb’ wire to the body wool and then packing the remaining cavity carefully with more cotton wool.

Then a touch of sewing to stitch Moley’s tummy up.  A little squeezing to ensure the cotton wool is packed in all the right places so he looks beautiful again.

Taxidermy 2Home with moley.  He still had protruding metal from each hand and foot and was a little dusty with the borax powder.  You position the taxidermy mole in the way you want him to ‘set’ and leave to dry for approximately 5 days.

Once set, you clip off the wire and give him a brush carefully with a toothbrush (preferably not one you’ll be using again!).

And meet Mr Moley… yes I did make him some specs as he wanted to see who was visiting him!

Taxidermy 3Despite my initial reservations about doing any sort of taxidermy, I really enjoyed the day.  Mr Moley looks fabulous, his shiny coat and plump little body give the impression he could still be alive!

It’s not something that I feel I need to do again….  but then never say never again!

Decoupage reindeer heads with Kaffe Fassett material

As you know I fell in love with the material of Kaffe Fassett at the Handmade Fair.

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What I probably haven’t confessed to is that I’ve been purchasing small pieces of his material with a little project in mind.  Although I did confess to the project in my Affordable Art Fair post.

Finally all the pieces have come together.  I first practiced with a heart.

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Then I sourced the papier mache heads, glue and together with the pieces of material and YouTube, I’ve been busy decoupaging.  How fabulous is this method of crafting.  For the most part everyone said to use paper and looked at me very oddly when I suggested material.  So I wasn’t quite sure what would happen if I used material.  In fact I suspect it’s easier as it stretches beautifully around corners and edges.

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This fine fellow looks amazing on my living room wall.

But I felt he needed a girlfriend….

IMG_8288 IMG_8290Great fun making them and easy to do.  Perfect crafting with small people or to make something colourful and fun for yourself.

Update on my glass making

I’d best first tell you about my disasters of last Saturday.  Having spent an age crafting, cutting, shaping, etching the wax model.

The next step is to create a plaster mold.  No mean feat for a small object but something of this size it’s a huge task.  I found the right plastic edging and clipped it together, using clay, I set the plastic edging to the board and hoped it’d take the weight of the massive amount of liquid plaster and flint.  And it probably would have done absolutely fine had I not heard someone suggest I move the clip out of the way.  Quick as a flash I did and quicker than I could imagine the plastic edging slipped closely followed by a fair bit of the 8 litres of liquid plaster!

IMG_8204Thank heavens for sensible people in the room who quickly were able to stem the flow and save the day.  What an idiot I am.  All week I’ve had nightmares about it and honestly I have no idea if the plaster mold has really worked at this point.

But the glass must go on.  The next step was steaming out the wax from the plaster mold.  It’s a little Heath Robinson but it works (top right).  As there are some very thin pieces of wax, I steamed it for quite some time to get right up into the plaster mold.

IMG_8257Today’s step was to finish steaming out the wax.  Then select the glass (Gaffer) and, in my case, liquid enamel.  Clean each piece of glass and then position the pieces with the enamel into the mold for firing.  Fingers crossed, one more time, that the firing goes well.

Another small piece that I started last week and finished this week was a small ‘wonky’ bowl with some small hearts and a ribbon stand.  Below is a picture of the wax mold and then after the firing whilst it was still in the plaster mold.

IMG_8255A fair bit of cold working on the saw to remove the base, lathe, flatbed, hand lapping and engraving inside and out.

IMG_8256I’m quite pleased with how it’s worked out.  It’ll be a beautiful birthday present for someone special very soon.

I also was able to fuse some pieces of glass that I cut a couple of years ago, following my course with David Mitchell.  It was fired first flat (fusing) and then fired again this week in a slump.  I’ve learned more in that I need to be more careful when using ‘batt wash’.  Batt wash is used over ceramic molds before firing and needs to be approximately 7 layers, straight across, diagonally, and again.  What I learned was that I should made each layer thinner and with more care… there’s a few small blobs on this piece because of it!

IMG_8252IMG_0205Here’s the finished article.

More glass (without the bubbles please)…

Following my two day 1:1 studio course I did in 2013 with the wonderful artist David Mitchell in Cambridge I have been super keen to continue working with glass.  As Cambridge isn’t exactly next door, I needed to find a college, studio or individual that would help me learn more, guide me (a little bit) and help me fire and coldwork pieces in their kiln and studio.  Of course I was happy to pay but I couldn’t find anyone or anywhere!  Many many hours of searching, stalking artists, posting on art forums and generally making a nuisance of myself and two year’s later, I found somewhere that I can go to make more glass ‘stuff’.  I didn’t exactly sit and wait for it though.  I invested in some glass, glass cutting boards, goggles and cutters and practiced cutting pieces of glass in my shed.

It has been a frustrating two years and I thought I’d end up with a shed full of cut pieces of glass and yet nothing finished…

.. until now!

Richmond Adult Community College have added a new art wing to their College in Richmond.  They were apparently previously in a Nissan hut in Twickenham but clearly at that time without much awareness about publicising their classes as I didn’t find them in my many many page searches of Google!

So I’ve signed up to three courses and already started two of them.

Cast a Glass Vessel (short course) – Learn how to make a model in wax to be cast in glass
•    To create a refractory mould for glass casting
•    Using wax to creating textures and patterns
•    You will gain basic techniques in finishing your cast glass

This is a piece that I’ve made so far.

Wax mould

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IMG_8094IMG_8093I quite love the way it is “just a vessel”.  It doesn’t have a purpose nor does it stand up or be level (deliberately!).  I adore the mottling of purples with a slight hint of blue within.  It’s far from perfect but I did it!  I think it’s done but I may just put a hole in the bottom and fit it with a small light…  I’m thinking about it.

Next up is a larger vessel that I’ve already created in wax and have a couple of weeks to finish the carving, then cast it in plaster and then into glass.  I’ve several ideas floating around in my head for a design and I’m excited to see what I finally decide to do.

Studio Glass (16 week course) – A practical introduction to kiln formed studio glass, covering the ancient techniques of fusing, slumping, open-mould and lost wax casting. You will be set short projects and encouraged to adopt an experimental approach. You will be taught through demonstration, group and individual instruction and you will learn from hands on experience. You will discover the potential of the medium through looking at both contemporary and historical works

The story so far:

IMG_8154Top left – practice cuts in glass to get circles, straight lines and shapes.
Top right – after first firing to fuse the glass together
Bottom – We created ‘cut-out’ shapes and prepared them for a ‘drop’ in the next firing.  This picture was taken as we ‘collectively’ chose it was time to stop the firing process and cool down the kiln pieces.  Hopefully we stopped it in time so that none of the pieces continued for the glass to melt and drop further.  Also it’s quite an art (thank heavens for Sally, our technician) to bring the glass down in temperature in such a way that it doesn’t crack.  Next week we’ll see the pieces out of the kiln and having returned to their final colour.  Fingers crossed.  I think I’d like to finish my piece by finishing off the edges and then mounting it onto a melted glass piece stand.  We’ll see!

Glass Casting (short course) – A practical and intense introduction to casting glass using the lost wax and open casting process. You will be taught how to model wax, make refractory moulds and prepare your glass for casting in the kiln. You will be set a short project and encouraged to adopt an experimental approach. You will be taught through demonstration, group and individual instruction and you will learn from hands on experience. You will discover the potential of the medium through looking at both contemporary and historical works.

Not started yet!

I’m so enjoying working with glass.  Once again I realise that I can be totally absorbed by this medium.  It’s unpredictability as to how it will fuse, slump or drop gives me a sense of excitement and thrill as to what it will become when the pieces I’ve chosen and placed take on a new form.  Honestly I can’t believe how quickly each class session flies by.