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 the red and black glass piece

My previous post showed you the story of my ‘drop’ glass piece and keeping our fingers crossed as the kiln cooled down.

My task today was to carefully finish the edge neatly so that it was even and with no sharp edges.   I used lots of different machines to finish the piece.  Great experience and I’m sure in time I’ll get more confident.  At the moment I’m very cautious and I’m sure in some instances this hesitancy isn’t good for the glass work.

So here it is, the finished piece.

RedandBlackGlassLike it?

Yet more glass…

Two weeks ago I decided to experiment with some float glass.  Cutting and shaping different pieces and then layering them up.

Float Glass piecesI positioned them carefully and left them to be fired flat.  Last week, I spent some time shaping and finishing the edges of the flat piece.  Then once again, fingers crossed, I positioned the piece on to a ‘wave’ slump mold and left it to our wonderful technicians.

Today I collected my piece.  I love my wave!

Float wave

Rachmaninoff: Inside Out at The Royal Festival Hall

Beautiful concert this evening.  The London Philharmonic Orchestra were, as ever, enthralling, engaging and amazing.  There is something so incredible that transports you to another world whilst the Orchestra plays.  We were treated to Mozart Symphony No. 36 (Linz) which is always criticized as being written in haste but I certainly didn’t get that impression when I listened to it tonight.

Followed by the young player, Dmitry Mayboroda, performing Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto.  My Oh My can that boy move up and down the ivories at speed!  Incredible performance.  We were treated to a couple of additional pieces as he was called back more than once, for encores!

The concert finished with an old favourite, Dvořák Symphony No. 8.  I remember listening to this many times as Mum had a recording of it.  Envoked some wonderful memories.

The Royal Festival Hall is also becoming one of my favourite classical venues.  From the outside a fairly non-descript concrete lump.  Inside it’s a jewel of Scandinavian design, wood and simplicity.  The seats comfortable and from every seat a view of the stage.  Certainly somewhere I would happily (and do) buy the cheap seats and still feel like I’m ‘in’ the best seats.

All in all, another truly great concert.

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.

Affordable Art Fair Battersea

I remain someone who loves to attend the AAF in Battersea. Once again I managed to get ‘free-Friday’ tickets and this year took my Godmother with me. Our taste in art is quite different. Mine brighter and more tactile – a usual need for colour and touch! Hers more classical and some would say, refined. But that’s the beautiful thing about the Affordable Art Fairs around the World. There is something for everyone and as pieces get bought up and replaced with others, each row of small galleries changes with every walk by.

Here’s a few pics of some pieces that I loved from today:

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Acrylic resin, marble and glass.

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Several pieces of interest and ones that I’d love to copy.

Top left to right

  • Already some of you know about my wish to create a reindeer head and cover with my Kaffe Fassett fabric pieces that I’ve collected.
  • Geometric pieces in a box frame – again you know I’m almost there with collecting pieces for this and some of you may well have seen the piece I made for MC & Chris as a wedding present using the London A-Z and Melbourne Melway maps.
  • Interesting textures and it should still have been wet paint!  Gloss with drips on aluminium sheet.
  • I loved the far-right picture with old postcards and small ceramic shoes and personal items.

Bottom left to right

  • Bottom left carved stone, I’d love to make in glass.
  • The mini-picture frames within a picture frame was a gorgeous way of collecting old pictures together for display.
  • Adored how the people and trees were affixed at an angle to the background picture giving the illusion of movement as the light changed and the shadow became longer/shorter.
  • Enjoyed the colour and simple design.  Would look fab in my garden!

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Although the top two images are from a ceramic bowl, I enjoyed the engraved lines of dots on the bowl.  Certainly something that I could replicate on the inside of a glass bowl.

Bullseye stringer glass and on the right fused squares – certainly both I’ve already created and this has inspired me to spend a little longer on coldworking and finishing the pieces.

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I loved the washed pieces of glass collected on beaches.  The roughness of the pieces and then uniformly placed to form a 3D picture.

Bottom right were some amazing pieces made in ceramic but also I’d like to replicate in glass.

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Some great glass ideas.  The first piece is a very similar shape to the one I’ve already molded in wax and awaits me tomorrow to take to the next process.  Certainly food for thought although I think I know what I’m going to do.

The piece in the middle has given me an idea on finishing my ‘dropped’ glass that was this week fired for the second time.

The bowls on the top right were blown glass but then sandblasted techniques to create the pattern/engraving.  Something we’ll be covering in our glass course, I hope.

I also loved the tower blocks of glass.  So simple yet beautifully effective sculptures.

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Oddly I dreamt about a piece just like these two last night.  Certainly given me another method of creating my ‘dream’ piece.

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Button obsession again.  This artist used clock and watch parts as well as butterflies.  I’d love to use buttons.  Interesting way to suspend and layer the parts to create a picture behind.

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Oh and there did appear to be a LOT of bulldogs at the AAF Battersea.  Many in ceramic, some in stone, bronze and, of course, paintings too.  I took these pics for my lovely friend Trish – aren’t they top dogs?

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.

 

Ruby Wax – Sane New World – A manual to how to survive the 21st century

Wow Wow Wow.  Just got in from seeing Ruby Wax’s new show ‘Sane New World’.  It’s well documented that Ruby has been diagnosed with clinical depression and, like so many things in her life, tackled it head on, talked loudly about it, studied it and now has the tools to see the signs of it’s return and in turn manage it.

….keep reading….

However the most important aspect (as I see it) is that she talks about it.  She brings ‘depression’ into the public domain.  There’s no stigma to it.  It’s just life… and for 1 in 4 of us it’s often everyday life.  Like Stephen Fry, she is able to articulate something that many people shy away from and indeed deliver it in a way that you can even laugh!  (SHOCK HORROR).

The show though isn’t downhearted or depressing.  It’s not a ‘woe is me’ tale nor is the audience full to the brim with ‘tie-dye’ or the bar/restaurant devoid of sharp objects for fear of anything happening.  Actually it’s well rounded and for everyone.  I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t benefit from seeing the show, listening to it and being open to understanding it.  After all 1 in 4 people have depression in their lifetime and if we were all better able to spot the signs, address it, talk about it and take action, I’m quite sure the world would be a much better place… and a little saner!

It’s certainly spurred me on to revisit my NLP training, dig out my notes from my Certification and Masters.  I think that although I know I still practice some of the techniques myself, it would be an incredibly valuable tool to reinstate in my life, work, advocacy and general practice.

Go see the show…  On until 14 March at St James’ Theatre, London Tickets

Telegraph review of show
Ruby Wax – book

Hospital – Dermatology

Today is my appointment at the hospital with the dermatology consultant.  The appointment, by the time we got to this point, actually came through remarkably quickly.  I’m terrifically thankful for the NHS and relieved to be seeing the experts.

It wasn’t long until I was called in to my appointment.  What a lovely young chap (eek do I sound old?).   He took his time to ask me questions, dates and how I felt.  Then the manual examination.   He then asked for the senior consultant to come in and do an examination to double check she agreed with his diagnosis.

The good news is the drugs are working!

The not so good news is that the consultant said I had obviously managed to get a severe attack of this stupid disease.  In order to get on top of the internal and oral spread, I am however going to glow for a little longer as he wants me on the big girl dose for an extended time. I reduce one of the steroids by 5mg a week but in reality it’s a pretty strong dose with risks associated with their long term use and many many side affects.

Very impressed with the consultation today and feeling super grateful for our NHS.  Let’s see how I get on with all these drugs and then I am to return in April to see the consultant and check progress.

Update on my rant

How cathartic was my rant yesterday for me?  Huge.  Thanks for listening.

Clearly it also had an impact and things have moved on in just one day.  Was it because of…. My rant?  My tears?  My persistence?  Or actually good Drs but bad gatekeepers?

Very early this morning I received a call from the receptionist at my GP surgery.  Another Dr in the practice whom I’ve not seen for several years wondered if I’d got time to call in to see her.  The receptionist knew nothing more and said if it was difficult to come in to an appointment, then the GP wanted to speak to me on the phone later on today.  Of course I’d make time for a face-to-face appointment.  My appointment was booked for late morning.

During the next few hours my mind was busy wondering why I’d been summoned?  Was I to be told off for making a pain in the ar*e of myself chasing up appointments?  Did they have the blood test results and wanted to share them?  Were they able to refer me back to the dermatology specialists urgently.  Was it good news or not?

I turned up 20 minutes early for my appointment and was quickly shown down to the consulting room.

It was good news.  Very very early this morning my GP had received a call from the specialist I’d seen in January.  She was very apologetic that I’d been left out of the loop – although still insistent that I didn’t have a follow up appointment booked and nothing available until the end of March.  She was concerned that the disease had advanced and suggested I should be fast-tracked into the hospital system of urgent referrals for dermatology specialists.  However apparently she is also aware that this isn’t going to be immediate!  So my poor GP spent a while on the phone learning about the disease.  A page with handwritten notes (lots of them) and some very complicated instructions about what they’d do for me right now to control the spread of the disease and hopefully reverse the effects so far… but it’s not going to be an easy 10 days ahead.

I had further examinations, swabs taken but no biopsies at this point.

I was asked if I was prepared to be part of an unauthorised trial.  That sounds a lot worse than it is but essentially the specialist (and her colleagues) had struck upon a combination of drugs that seemed to work when administered in this way for the oral disease… however it’s unproven and might be questioned.  Absolutely I’m happy to participate – medicine can only move forward with trials.  After all penicillin and many other things we use today were discovered by mistake or chance.

My GP told me that we’re going to hit it hard by throwing everything we’ve got at it for a short period of time.  We’re going to nuke the disease!  She’s going to find out the blood test results and has also put in an urgent referral to the hospital dermatology specialists.

20 minutes later I left and headed off to the pharmacy to collect a bulging carrier bag of medicine (and I’ve still got to go back tomorrow morning as they’ve not got 3 of the prescriptions I need in stock!).

The pharmacist did query with me the ‘trial’ drugs.  They were concerned that they’d been mis-prescribed but when I explained it, they were happy to help.

So over the next 10 days I’m going to be ‘nuking’ my body with a vast array of medicines in tablet, cream, ointment and liquid format.  There are a number of potential side affects of the drugs I’m not looking forward to but hell it’ll be worth it if it works… and the potential side effects may not be a problem for me.

What did I learn today?

  • Too not give in and to pursue appointments
  • To mention ALL symptoms as they may actually be related to one illness
  • It’s worth having an annual NHS Prescription Prepayment Card (PPC) http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/1127.aspx  After only today’s pharmacy visit and the many prescriptions required, I’ve already saved!
  • To thank people in healthcare.  Often situations like yesterday aren’t their fault but perhaps due to misunderstanding
  • You can’t have an ‘urgent’ referral to a GP dermatology specialist – it has to be in a hospital setting.

So here goes… wish me luck!