Big Red Gecko

Gecko

 

I’ve been enjoying seeing my big red gecko up on the wall at the Hardwick Cafe.  I bought the sheet of ‘Saturday Glass’ at Warm Glass last year, getting very excited on peering into the giant wooden crate which was only just being opened.  “Saturday Glass’ because on Saturdays, after the production runs are complete, the amazing glass makers at Bullseye get to play with the molten glass and make sheets of glass that amuse and interest them.  All the glass I use is handmade art glass from the Bullseye company in Portland Oregon, USA.

The problem with buying a beautiful sheet of glass is that it can be intimidating cutting it up.  The worry is that you will end up making something less beautiful or interesting than the raw material.  I would like to have made something with the whole sheet (I still have a Cascade glass sheet I can’t cut up as the image I see is in the whole piece), but with the size of my kiln this gecko was made in several sections.

The multiple sections then left me with a display dilemma.  I wanted it to be demountable, so didn’t want to glue it onto a board.  With some help from the Technicians at University I finally learned to weld and made a mild steel frame, then learnt to drill holes in the glass and the metal so that the lizard could be bolted into place.   The gecko now has a life of its own- it is dramatic how different the work looks when it is up on the wall.

 

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New Bowls for Moy Mackay Gallery

Enjoying some time in the studio making a selection of bowls for Moy’s Gallery.  I have my ‘sounds of the sea’ CD on in the background, with crashing waves and seagulls crying.

Lots of lovely blues and thoughts of summer, while outside it is cold and grey.  We even had some snow here earlier this week, which is very unusual.

 

Playing with water

I realise there is a bit of sea theme in a lot of the work I make.  I like to work with a CD of coastal sounds in the background in my studio, and trying to catch the energy of waves in the glass in various ways is something I keep returning to.

 

In addition to my single wave pieces I’ve also extended this sea theme with a series of works set in portholes.  eBay has an astonishing variety of portholes on offer, and I now know a lot more about portholes than I did a month ago.  Having been looking at cruises for my sisters Big Birthday gift means I thought a lot about what I’d like to see out of my window.  I now have a giant porthole with an Antarctica scene, a smaller Caribbean scene, a tiny New York Statue of Liberty view and a test of my new bubble paint with copper fish for the least exciting porthole.  The biggest porthole clearly came off a ship, and is so heavy I had to dismantle it before I could move it.  They have a variety of glass holding mechanisms, two have screw fittings and could take very thick glass or even interchangeable glass images, whilst the one I like the least has a fitting that complains at even three mm of glass.

 

This large porthole is sitting on my garden table.  It is a fully functioning window and could be used as such, or would be great as a piece of garden art.

porthole Antartica.jpg

I’ve been working on a birthday commission, for which I made a double thickness piece to give lots of variety and depth of colour.  This was then free slumped to give a piece with lots of vigour.

double wave on shape.jpg

In between making these watery pieces I’ve started a series of Montpellier Cafe scenes ( the Montpellier in Cheltenham) as I made one as a raffle prize for the Montpellier writers Group who are celebrating an anniversary this month.

montpellier-cafe

 

Exhibitions!

Lois Parker after the storm circular bowl

I’ve been busy getting ready for my exhibition at the Gardens Gallery in Cheltenham later this month.  I’ve also just selected and printed labels for a small shared show at the Number 8 Community Art Centre in Pershore, where I have a few smaller items in a crafts case.  I used some business card paper to make the labels, which was so much easier than any other technique I’ve ever tried, and which has produced neat consistent labels.

I also submitted six pieces to the Summer Show Focus on Glass in Cardiff, so the process of auditioning individual pieces and then considering how they work together has preoccupied me for some time.  I’ve spent so much effort on this ‘auditioning’ process that I’ve actually had my previous City&Guilds tutor turn up in my dreams to discuss my work!

Other than that, a few bowls, including some I really like, is all I have made over the last couple of months.  More surgery on my wrist to remove a screw that had come loose from the previous surgery, followed by slipping in the shower while being super-cautious to protect my wound, left me with cracked ribs, which make breathing hard let alone frolicking with glass.  I’m looking forward to a new programme of exploration and experimentation starting in May.

a whole month of drawings…if only I could figure out the technology to collage them!

I supposed to put up a collage of drawings from the 30 in 30 days sgraffito challenge (about fifty images).  The problem with having a second hand computer and some shared systems is that all the software I loaded to try these – flipagram, flikr, picassa etc, seemed to immediately make vast numbers of photos pour into my computer. As this computer is eight years old already (an antique in computing terms) it crashes all the time just trying to cope with software upgrades on the minimum set of functions I need, so this sort of behaviour panics me.

So, for the moment, no collage, though I have rephotographed the drawings so that I have a complete set of fired images. I’ll close this sequence for the moment with  drawing of me and Einstein..and to say I have had a fantastic time working with an amazing bunch of people from around the world on this project. Lots to learn still, but I feel I know much more about what is possible and have some techniques which will allow me to continue the journey.

einstein fired self portrait fired

Einstein is easy…the self portrait challenge

SP 2 overview

We all struggled with Einstein, some ending up dreaming about Old Albert, and one person using the excuse that her husband knocked hers over just before she finished with a tennis ball.

Having worked for two days on that portrait we then had to take a photo of ourselves (howls of anguish) and do that in powdered glass.  It should be easier, we should know our own faces…but it turns out I have no idea where any of my features sit in my face.

I took a bunch of photos with sidelight from the kitchen window as I thought that would make it easier.  For the first attempt I put the glass and photo upside down and sifted on a good layer of glass powder in the areas with the darkest shading.  I then turned it around and tried to get everything in the right place.  I found it hard to remove powder in any sensible way if I had too much, unless I took all of it off.  I know some people became good at removing just a bit of the powder with a fingertip, but I felt it just made the piece look like I’d got my fingers all over it accidentally.  I worked quite hard, showed my husband, and he said he thought it was good, but was it a picture of a man or a woman.  So, it isn’t just me that doesn’t know what I look like.

self portrait 1

Today I tried again, after waiting for the studio to get up from its early chill of 10C.  The kiln had been on overnight but it is so efficient that it doesn;t leave the studio warm.

This time I started with the eyes.  I did this because the nearly invisible eye on the far side of the face had completely confused me on image one.  I worked on these, then added extra powder, did a bit more work, added more powder and so on.  I think I have ended up with quite a weak and innocuous image, so I am not very pleased with it. If I did another one hopefully I would get some of the good attributes of each and make a stronger image.

self 2aself 2bSP 2cSP 2dSP 2f

SP 2g

Einstein – two intense days of trying to do his portrait

Albert_Einstein_Head

Around the world went the cries of anguish when participants in th 30 in 30 days Sgraffito Challenge read the task for these last two days, followed by waves of despair and destruction.  We were to work with this photo of AE and, starting with the image upside down, sketch in the light and dark areas and gradually work on the piece whichever way we wanted and with any tools.

Einstein 1

sifiting powder upside-down

einstein 2

beginning to add details

einstein 3

some weird Colonel turned up!

einstein back in jar

back in the jar

I decided I needed to understand the eyes, so did a quick sketch of these.

einstein eyes

I sifted powder on.  Got completely muddled about which the chin line was.  Fiddled.  Tipped the powder back into the jar and started again.

einstein v2 with photo

einstein v2 1

starting again

einstein v2 2

einstein v2 3 trying to tidy his chin- realising everything is the wrong place

Tipped the powder back in the jar and started again.

einstein V3 5 rotated

Version 3 – where should the chin be !!!

einstein finished?

keeping this one.

Kept this final piece.  I realised that, like most of the others posting progress pieces, I was relentlessly centering AE’s eyes in the image instead of giving him a partial profile.  Even with starting upside down, which should help us to see what is actually there and not what we think is there, I was sticking his features where I thought they should be not where they were.

So, a difficult challenge and a not entirely successful outcome.  However, when we compare the work we did on this piece with the way we handled the powder back on January 1st we can see how much our technique has improved.

I wanted to increase the tonal range (made the darker areas darker and the light areas lighter) but I felt as if I’d lose any sense of AE being amused in my image if I fiddled any more.  I’ll fire this one when the kiln is free and see what it looks like.

If you want to see other participants work you check out the links at the base of this blog.