Posts Tagged ‘glass’

Playing with glass

Today I got to play with glass and make things  – not stained glass (did it once, made a panel, didn’t like all the splinters) or blown glass ( got offered an apprenticeship once by a flirty glass blower on the Isle of Wight) or melting glass panels. Instead I got to play with a rather unusual and wonderful glass paste that you can roll out like royal icing and cut into. It was at UWE’s Centre For Fine Print Research Make:Shift:Do 2017 – open doors day and it was fascinating to wander round and see how 3D print and AI/Machine Learning are now part of their research, alongside more tradional activities like cyanotype printing and artist book-making.

So, today I was lured down to Bower Ashton by the description of the glass paste workshop – “Shape and print into glass with normal household items at room temperature.” Sounded intriguing and it was. Even more delightful was that the drop-in workshop was run by Susanne Klein, who I first met working at HPlabs Bristol, and who has given talks about her research to Bristol Girl Geek Dinners.

Turns out, it was Susanne who basically invented the glass paste we were going to use – it’s a mix of ground glass, water and a powdered material that burns away in the kiln, and only has to heat to 800 degrees. Susanne showed me how to mix the three ingredients then knead and roll out the paste – just like making icing!

I picked a few simple shapes and pressed into them with some basic tools, had a go at freehand shapes then chose one of Susanne’s pre-made linocuts to play with, impressing it into the paste with a rolling pin then cutting round it. I tidied up the edges and sprinkled coloured frit (powdered glass) onto the white paste – I could have made coloured paste, just like icing, it depends what colour glass powder you mix. Now all I have to do is wait and see how they come out the kiln. My head is full of other ideas I could try out – theoretically I could do the making at home and then firing elsewhere, as long as was careful about breathing in glass dust or spreading it around the house.

Here’s a couple of the freehand pieces, a moon and a feather.

Moon – unbaked, with frit and glass chips

I couldn’t get the paste to hold a fingerprint impression so I focused on playing with dents and putting frit and glass chips in them to see what they’ll look like after the kiln.


Feather – unbaked, with frit and blue glass beads

Had to make a feather. I don’t have photos of all the pieces I made; can’t wait to see how they come out though.

I did also enjoy wandering around where I studied Fine Art, trying to see what was still there, what has shifted location and what has disappeared (bronze-casting and welding have gone). It got me thinking about the response from tutors to a few of us who were exploring photography and computers and incorporating them in our work and how it was definitely not encouraged (1989-92). Things have changed.


Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in art, craft, making Comments Off on Playing with glass

featherhouse revisited

I signed up for Window Wanderland. Not Winter, not Wonder ~ Window Wanderland. It’s a popular event for dark winter evenings in different parts of Bristol, when people decorate their windows so that other people can wander along the local streets and admire the display, like an arts trail but without anyone coming inside, and with participants of all ages exhibiting. There have been a few now, and this weekend it is the turn of Ashton, Bedminster, Southville. So I signed up.

Inside featherhouse

We have a lot of windows on our corner house – two double bays and one window in between gives us a total of 25 windows at the front of the house, then another half a dozen at the side. That’s a lot of glass-cleaning, but it did give me time to think about what was going to replace the grime, in the end and after talking with Harriet I stuck to a simple theme and just turned the front of the house into a giant featherhouse. The original featherhouse first appeared at a Ship of Fools exhibition in around 1998/99 and I am still very attached to it.

original featherhouse

featherhouse sits in an upstairs window in my room, slightly dusty these days and probably makes no sense to anyone but me. This weekend I turned it round to present the house shape end to passers-by who stop to look. Now above it for Winter Wonderland there are ghostly feathers of tracing paper. All the bay windows are covered in tracing paper to mimic the etched effect on featherhouse, but instead of cut-outs like the swan feathers on the original, I used thin white paper and hand cut lots of feathers. I was struck by how non-featherlike the outlines of real feathers can be, as I copied those from featherhouse and translated them into paper.

outside featherhouse

I think it works, but will add some more upstairs tomorrow.


Inside, during daylight hours, it feels as if we are snowed in, or inside a house made of ice. The light it creates is strangely wintry.


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in art Comments Off on featherhouse revisited

Wings of glass rod feathers

Wings made of glass rod feathers

from an exhibition of contemporary Chinese ceramics and glasswork at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery

Posted in Uncategorized Comments Off on Wings of glass rod feathers