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



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.


Makeup Lesson and afternoon tea

I think when we get to a certain age we feel that we know how to make up our own faces.  I wonder how many times we’ve looked into a mirror and tweaked, patted, brushed, smoothed and highlighted our faces.  All aiming for symmetry on both sides, to hide blemishes and enhance our ‘natural’ features.  Perhaps to achieve a natural look.  Create smokey eyes.  Or to gloss luscious lips with a favourite nude or a naughty red.

How many days/nights do we ‘dress’ our faces?  How many days/nights do we think that we’ve created a masterpiece?  Probably, I suspect, slightly less often than we’ve wondered how we could improve upon what we’re doing.

However, I’ve now reached 46 years of age without any lessons.  Without truly knowing if the colours I use are right for my skintone.  Without knowing the art of smokey eyes or the perfect brow.  Could I improve what I’m doing?

Issy had on her List for Life that she would like to have a lesson with Ariane Poole.  Kelly spotted it after our trip to Verona and said she had intended to take her Mum to Ariane  but hadn’t managed to book a date.  Surely a no-brainer then that we should all go together for a group lesson?  So the date was checked with all to make sure we were free and able to do it.  Sadly however Issy wasn’t well enough this morning to join us.

Ariane Poole Anna 261013


My before, during and after photos!

Ariane Poole Aftershots 2013And all of us after our lesson.


What a wonderful experience.  Ariane shared tips and tricks.  I finally now understand why I should be wearing primer!  She showed me how to create shape with my eyebrows.  We played with different tones and colours and found that I’m more suited to pinks than reds!  I learnt how to adapt a daytime look to an evening look.  I know.. so girly!

Seriously I can’t recommend it enough.  I certainly have become set in my ways and now know (and could see the proof) of how I can simply improve my technique, get a better, brighter finish and enhance my, errr, better features.  I’d also happily recommend you to Ariane for a lesson.  She made time with each of us to ensure that we had personal attention.  She also took the time to look through our existing makeup regimen and products and then to advise what to keep and what could be improved.  The products that she used were from her own range but also from Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, Benefit, Laura Mercier, Charlotte Tilbury, Mac etc.  How often have we been at the cosmetics counter and the sales assistant is only interested in selling you their products rather than the best for your skintype?


Following our makeup lesson we headed to Charlotte Street Hotel for a spot of afternoon tea.  Well you wouldn’t have expected us just to go home when we’re looking so damn foxy, would you?

Wimbledon Fever

I’d been talking about trying to get down to Wimbledon this season to see some tennis.  Silly really that I don’t go down every day as it’s so near to me – but it’s been 8 years since I last went along, queuing late afternoon and getting into see some fabulous games late into the summer evening.  However I was spurred into action by my friend Ismena Clout who posted on her blog a ‘list for living‘ and number 34 on the list was attending Wimbledon.

I have recently started playing tennis again at a local club (although not for a while since my fall in Australia and my somewhat ‘oddly shaped’ knee and as part of joining up for the coaching I was encouraged to become a member of the LTA British Tennis.  What a bonus because they sent me an email to say that although I wasn’t eligible (as such a newbie) to enter the first Wimbledon ballot, I would be eligible for the second ballot.  At 10am on 7th June I was therefore ready to go…  How surprised was I to see that there were actually tickets available AND for the final day of Wimbledon!

Little did we know but Andy Murray would also be appearing on the last day having got through to the men’s final.

What a fabulous day. We started off with a little light refreshment (errr bubbles) and strawberries & cream.  Most of our day was spent in Court No 1 (where we had tickets) and watched the final of the boys juniors (both boys will be adults next year so looking forward to seeing them get through to the Men’s Final next year); Invitation Senior Gents Doubles (with Pat Cash who I last saw at Wimbledon in 1985!); Invitation Ladies Doubles and then Invitation Gents Doubles.

BUT we did leave Court No 1 and headed out to see if we could get a spot on Murrays Mound during the epic Men’s Final… boy was that placed absolutely packed.  So we headed off to Court 2 where they were showing it on big screens.  The atmosphere was A-mazing… even more so when we saw Andy Murray WIN!  The first British man to win for 77 years.  Thank heavens – the nation were behind him… as long as he won!

A few pics for you:

Wimbledon with Ismena Clout July 2013

I did it!!

Wow.  Wow.  OMG Wow!  I did it!

This morning I was a touch apprehensive.  Why the blinkety blink was I getting up early, heading out into the cold with the intention of launching myself over the edge of a wall 100ft from the ground?

I think perhaps I was more worried than I thought… I managed to get off the train at Clapham Junction, a stop too early!  I could see Battersea Power Station from the platform as I waited for the next train… today instead of looking majestic, the towers looked exceptionally tall and imposing.

Although there’s a little bit of a November chill in the air, the light is beautiful and the sky an azure blue.  If we were dressed in T-shirts and shorts you might actually believe it was summer!

My lovely Godmother was there and was able to keep my mind off what I was about to do whilst I registered, swapped trainers for ‘sensible boots’, reflective jacket, hard hat and got strapped into a harness.

A group of 8 anxious abseilers followed a Stroke Association volunteer into the Power Station.  From the outside of the building, although we know it’s crumbling, I sort of believed there was still a belly to the building but what we saw was a void, fallen pieces of masonry, trenches of mud and debris.   And a lot of light… there’s not much by way of a roof or top to it.  One of my fellow abseilers bought her camera with her and I’m hoping to be emailed pictures of the inside of the building, so will update this when/if I receive them. I’ve said before how I love this building and I truly truly hope that the new owners will be able to restore some of the building whilst finding and developing a new use and love for the site.

After quite a climb up the stairwell we reached the top.  We were ushered along and asked to walk close to interior wall (which apparently was safe to walk on!).  After a few minutes four of us stepped up to the scaffolding stations.  Final checks of our safety equipment were made.  I was asked my name (can’t remember what I said).  Introduced to the lovely man from the Mile End Climbing Wall who kindly said to keep looking into his eyes!  Every time I sneaked a look down (big mistake) he would remind me “Look into my eyes, look into my eyes”…

My carabiners were clipped on to some very thin looking ropes… one that was mine to pass through my hands in order to lower myself ‘gracefully’ to the ground.  The second was secured to my lovely Mile End man.  After reassuring me that I’d be OK, he told me to  step back!

I think it was at that point that my fear really kicked in.  Both feet were precariously balanced on the edge.  A wide stance but I was firmly staying on the top of the Power Station…  I remember saying “I can’t do this”…  I remember repeating it again.

Then in a split second decision I remembered why I was doing it.  I wasn’t doing it for me.  Well OK may be a little bit – after all I  hate heights.  I was thinking of all the amazingly generous people who have sponsored me.  Supported me.  Encouraged me.  Laughed at me.  I was thinking about all of you who have facebooked, messaged, texted, tweeted and called me to support me today and since I signed up for this stupidity!  I was also thinking about the incredible sum of over £600 that has been donated by you all.  I was thinking about how that money will be spent and the people who will benefit.

And I went over the edge….

Then it was fun.  It didn’t occur to me then that I was only attached by a thin rope nor that the ground was quite a distance below.  I loved it.

I did a few Tigger bounces (much to the admiration of “Look into my eyes” at the top, who shouted down to congratulate me on my technique!

Cleverly I had thought that apart from having a rather larger backside than many of the abseilers, it might be difficult to spot who was who on the descent and tied a fluorescent orange scarf around my hair!  No excuse for not spotting me now…

And the ‘official’ picture… forget me in the foreground… check out how far down the ambulance is!!!

Hey all I did was get up early (struggle), head out into the cold (struggle), look into a man’s eyes (weird), step off the top of a wall (crazy), bounce on the end of  a rope (no comment) and then remember to breathe when my feet were back on terra firma.

What you all did was support me, encourage me, donate your hard earned cash, the kids raided piggy banks and more importantly you believed that I could do it and that the cause I was doing it for was worth digging deep.

Thank you from The Stroke Association

Thank you from all the people affected by a stroke that your money will help.


THANK YOU from me.  xxx

Random photos of London

During a walk through Londontown today with a friend, and managing ‘mostly’ to avoid the rain showers, I spotted these pics… thought you might enjoy them.


An interesting and colourful tree… looked to be made of material

Oooh Oooh I’m excited.. we’ve got lanes marked out for the Olympics!




Loved these glass panels and the way they caught the light…. so reminded me of work by David Mitchell at http://www.cafe-jello.com.  One day I will own a piece of his glass artwork… I will you know!

Henley Royal Regatta and The Season

What a super spiffing time I’ve been having this past few days.  I’ve been blessed to have been invited to attend Henley Royal Regatta not once, but twice this year.  In Stewards with friends and a Phyllis Court with family.  What a total treat.

Of course!

      The river… and the racing

      Phyllis Court… Stewards 

The Gloriana – A boat fit for a Queen!

I love Henley.  In fact I love ‘the Season‘.  When I returned from living in Australia some years ago I vowed that I should do more of things that made me happy.  I also vowed to introduce others to the things that made me happy in the hope that they may also come to love these things too.

Panic not.  Things that in fact are mostly both affordable and accessible but in reality life is often too hectic to find time to organise these, book tickets, rally people and plot some more…. but all possible with the inciest little bit of effort and soooo worth it.

The first years I was back from Australia I was able to chivvy along several friends and friends of friends to make up parties at each of the events through the Season.  Oh and although always glammed up and looking the part we did it on a shoestring too!  We managed to do quite a few ‘events’ over the season for several years… hmmm must reinstate them next year.  Anyone for Pimms?

So below, I’ve put some of my tips and tricks (if you can’t blag a personal invitation!) as to how to do it in an affordable way:

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – For those arty types amongst us.  The exhibition is packed full of contemporary art work which is chosen from thousands submitted by known and unknown artists in the hope of being included.  You can purchase most of the work on display (or prints thereof) and often find that you’re the first to see an up and coming artist, so perhaps an investment.  There are over 10,000 entries each year.  I love the way that the pieces are still chosen by way of a human chain of art-handlers displaying the pieces on the same beaten up stool whilst the academicians vote – 3 votes and they’re through to the next selection round.

Royal Ascot – A spot of horse racing… or celebrity spotting!  Silver Ring tickets are the way forward and if you can get 10+ friends together, they’re even cheaper.  Worth a punt on a horse to see if you can get the next round in (the drinks aren’t cheap).  Either nominate a driver(s) amongst you or go by train.  However we found that if someone drove with a boot full of food and booze (a quick trip to the supermarket enroute, beautifully packed into a wicker hamper with some of the packaging removed!), together with a picnic rug or two, then we could have a pre-races party too.

Henley Royal Regatta – If you’re on a budget, you can pitch up by train or car, hamper and picnic rug in hand and walk down the towpath to find a spot from which to enjoy the spectacle of racing and people watch.  If you don’t mind a walk, then park for free at Mill End (off the Marlow – Henley road) and walk along the towpath.  The Regatta Enclosure is next to the prestigious Stewards but is much less formal and tickets are on general sale.

Polo at Guards Club – One of my personal favourites on a sunny weekend.  On a weekend when there’s not a major tournament being played you can park up with your picnic and watch some fast polo from the side lines.  In the good old days we’d assess the sunshine level on a Sunday morning, pick up some friends, dash to Tesco where we’d decant a picnic into a wicker basket, purchase newspapers and drive out to Guards for a day in the sunshine.  A brilliant want to see a fabulous sport.  A cheaper way to go to the Cartier Polo is to pre-book a car parking space, find 4 other friends to share the cost, nip to supermarket for picnic and booze, get there really early, put down the rug and read your papers/snooze until the match begins!

Wimbledon Tennis – Head out to Wimbledon in the first few weeks of play with Ground Admission tickets.  These are fairly reasonably priced and allows you to wander round the outside courts ie Courts 3-19.  In the early weeks of the tournament you may be lucky enough to see the higher seeded players on these outer courts.  A little cheaper are the evening tickets ie after 5pm or even cheaper still are the ones that you buy on the day but need to queue for… the queue’s quite fun too!

Proms – You really do have to love the Proms season at the Royal Albert Hall.  It’s varied.  It covers a fabulous array of musical genres.  And it’s also affordable!


Proms in the Park – If you can’t get to the ‘last night of the Proms’ in the Albert Hall then why not get together with a party of people, picnic, drinks and flags and see it in Hyde Park.  As well as the live feed from the Albert Hall there are other acts performing, Kylie, Alfie Boe, Il Divo and more.  The tickets are £35 each, this year however you’ve got your entertainment from 5pm until late!   Ooh and when I say take a flag, do… you’ll need it for the rousing end to the concert!  A few years ago we managed to have 30 different national flags amongst our group waving like crazy things!  The questions we had from other spectators about how we were all friends but…  🙂

Oh and a whole heap more fun and frovility to be had at other events during ‘the Season’.  Enjoy and remember to let me know what you did, where you were etc…. or to send me an invite!

I Want 2 Sing

What would you say if I told you that one thing I’ve always wanted to do was sing?  I don’t just mean at home with a hairbrush.  And I mean sing in tune and in a way that someone else might want to listen.

In addition, I made a promise to someone that I’d sing something bluesy for his 40th birthday.  OK so he’s a few years past 40 now but perhaps I can surprise him for his 50th?

It’s on my bucket list.  My ‘living bucket list’.  I’d better make it happen.

OMG I just put that in ink, didn’t I?

Anyway I contacted a singing coach and tonight’s entertainment was a showcase opportunity for some of her students to perform.  I watched in awe of the people who got on stage.  I also felt sick that I’ve set myself this challenge.

There’s a video from tonight’s show which demonstrates the different ages, different singing styles and different levels of confidence – do take a minute to see the show (particularly the young girl at 0:56 and the 13 year old at 2:00 who were both awesome).

As for me, watch this space.  Eeeek