Monday, 10 January 2022

‘The Bigger Picture’

 Life through a marble series

Acrylic & Watercolour paint, with permanent marker.


Although my theme is ‘Life Through A Marble’ I went off a little on a tangent with this one…

I found some old mountboard in my Dad’s attic, from the days that he used to be a picture framer… and one of those mountboards had a perfectly cut round (marble shape) in it.   I took it and decided that one way or another I would use it.

Then it got me thinking…. What if that was the only view you could see, yet there was so much more going on?

I decided that this would be my inspiration.


Using the hole as a template, I drew a cartoon style earth… and around that earth I drew destruction, despair, damage, and death.

Ice melts, trees dying, pollution, plastic in oceans, overuse of fossil fuel.

I showed the earth heating up and therefore melting.

Animals crying, flowers dying…. What have we done?



I painted the earth in bright metallic acrylic paint, with a shimmer so it looks vibrant and exciting.  Then I painted the background in water colours, quite washed out, so it looks drab and dull and lifeless.

I edged it all in a marker pen for a cartoon like quality.

I drew features on the earth so it either looked happy or sad, depending which way you viewed it.

 Once the drawing and painting was complete, I could lay the black mountboard on top with the hole cut out so you could only see the ‘happy face’ earth.  

Then I added the question…

“Can YOU see the bigger picture?”

Once the mountboard was flipped over then you saw a ‘sad face’ earth.


Then once you remove the black mountboard from the top, you see the whole picture….





Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Making paperweights

 Take a gather of glass from the furnace.

 


Gently marver, then sit at the bench and wait until the glass is slightly hard – turning all the time to keep the shape.

Take a second gather.

Next sit at the bench and use  gravity to help you centre the glass.

Next use the wet cherrywood block to help shape the paperweight.

 


Reheat in the glory hole.

Use the Jacks to form a cut.

Add water to the cut with tweezers.

Knock the paperweight off the iron over the vermiculite.     Place in the kiln.

My first attempt… could be rounder, but not too bad.


Adding Frit….

 

Roll the hot glass in frit (broken glass or various sizes) before the second gather.

 

These were rolled in a fine powder frit of three different colours.



These were rolled in a fine powder frit in colbalt blue, then twisted before the second gather was added.

These were rolled in a fine powder frit in white, then a chunky frit in turquoise… I quite like the ribbon effect it has created, but I think I prefer the finer frit effects.


This one was rolled in Cremation ash  (a friends three dogs) before the second gather.   The ash has not melted and stayed a lovely silvery colour, magnified by the second coating of glass.



Monday, 29 November 2021

Marble Run

Life through a marble series

Acrylic metallic paint & vintage glass marbles


 For this piece I decided to let marbles do the work.

 My Dad used to be a picture framer, so I raided his attic for some pieces of mount board.  I found some pieces with circular holes cut out which I though would work very well.

I laid one board with a circle cut out on top of a full sheet.



I found some old vintage school type marbles in my shed, and took out my metallic acrylic paints.

I chose colours that would compliment each other and not blend into each other to create a muddy colour.

Green

Purple

Red

Gold

Silver

I covered a marble in paint then I rolled it along the mount board  - or rather I attempted to.  The paint clogged up the rolling effect so the marble needed a good flick to help it on it’s way.  If it stopped before I wanted it to I gave it another flick.



It was a bit of a messy project  😊


I actually liked the end result way more than I thought I would, I might even put this on my wall!


This image is both the boards as planned laid on top of each other.



This one is the underneath board turn around to show an image inversion – like viewing through a marble might look.



This one is just the top board on it’s own.



And this is the bottom board on its own.



Sunday, 21 November 2021

Refractory Mould – Nuts & Bolts

The first thing I had to do for this project was to create textures in a block of clay.

 


I found some screws and bolts and a wingnut and pressed them into a squared off block of clay.  I thought they would make some interesting textures – bold and easy to see what they were.

Next I built a box around my clay using Cottle boards and clamps.   Around the bottom of the boards I added a little clay so none of the plaster mix would leak out.

 


Plaster Recipe for refractory mould:  (to be measured up as required)

·       1lb plaster powder

·       1lb molochite powder

1 pint water

Once the plaster mould was dry, I could gently remove all of the clay.

I washed off all the tiny remaining bits with a toothbrush and water.

The next job was to fill the mould with water and measure it.

 

It’s important to do this BEFORE the mould is put in to the drying cupboard as doing it afterwards would allow the mould to absorb more water, causing issues in the kiln.

I scratched on the side the amount of water needed to fill it – 260ml.



The mould then went into the drying cupboard for about a week to make sure it was thouroughly dried. 

Now it was time to work out how much glass I needed.

A = the amount of water that fills the mould

A x 2.5 = the weight of glass needed to fill the cavity.

So this one was 260 x 2.5 = 650 grams

I weighed this amount out and positioned it into the mould.

Finally the mould and glass went into the kiln so the glass could melt into all of the crevices.


Once out of the kiln I could gently break away and discard the mould material, leaving the slab of glass.

  

I have put a little too much glass in this mould, hence the overflow, but it will be interesting to cold work it to bring it back to shape.


I used the flat bed grinder in the coldshop to grind all of the excess glass off this piece. I used 120 grit at first, moving on to 320 grit once I had the shape I liked.

I actually had to stop at that point as I could see some stress in the corner of the piece which I suspect would have chipped the corner off if I had continued.

Still,  I am rather pleased with the result, and cannot wait to have another go.



Friday, 19 November 2021

Cowpat Moulds


Make the plaster recipe as shown, stir with hand until it starts to thicken…like a thick double cream. 

Pour onto the bench (rubbed with a little Vaseline beforehand) and form into a ‘cowpat’. 

Carve, roll  a texture into it.


Plaster Recipe for Cowpat:

·       1lb plaster powder

·       1lb molochite powder

1 pint water


This was my first piece, I scrumpled up a piece of Blue-Roll and laid some Bubble wrap over the top, I then poured the plaster mix on top of that to create the texture underneath.

Once dry, I turned it over and laid some sheet glass on top and put it in the kiln


I think the glass would have benefitted from being fired first to prevent any sharp edges, as the finished piece has taken on the textures, but the edges are still quite sharp.



For this piece I found a lovely piece of glass which had been screen printed already, which looked a little oriental to me.   So I used some bamboo skewers, laid them out on the bench and poured the plaster mix over the top.

Apart from the edges being a little sharp as before, the texture of the bamboo skewers worked well.

 


The screen printing faded a little in the kiln, but left enough to give an effect.



I am looking forward to experimenting more with this technique.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Paper & Wire Sculpture

This project was to learn how to form a wire shape then cover it in paper to create a Wire & Paper sculpture.

I used a variety of different thicknesses of wire to create a flower with a leaf, and a vase to stand  it in.

I had to try and work out how to weigh down the base of the flower so that it stood up on its own when out of the vase.  I did this by using a thick coil of stainless steel memory wire and by balancing the flower head and leaf out.

Once I was satisfied with the general shape, I went on to cover it with tissue paper.

I used Decoupage paper for a bit of colour interest – each piece of paper was cut slightly larger than the section I wanted to cover, then I dabbed UHU glue around the wire section and stuck the paper to it, trimming it back to the wire when it was dry

 

I used different colours of paper for the different areas.

One fully covered I mixed PVA glue with water (approx 50/50) and painted it all over the paper, causing a slight shrinkage when drying – this made it firm and strong.

I gave it two or three more coats after that to make it even stronger.


I am quite happy with the finished result, although my shapes could definitely do with more practise.

I like the effect that the PVA glue gave to the paper, making it almost ‘drum skin’ like.


Monday, 10 May 2021

Working on a brand new Blanket Course.

 If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I have been busy with this cheeky little blanket. (as yet, still unfinished).




I wanted to create a Granny Square blanket.. but with a twist. So each square has something different going on.

This is going to be a course - probably about 14 weeks long I reckon, covering 10 different squares along with joining, edgings and borders. I would say 'Advanced' level, but for those wanting to try a little bit different.

Now, I know I will get asked for the pattern - and I always feel bad saying no.... the reason is this. I am not confident that my patterns will stand alone. I am a teacher not a pattern writer. My patterns are always written to be a REMINDER of what you learn in class.

I fear if I sell the pattern I will always be answering emails asking 'what does this mean?' and 'how do you do this bit?' .... and this is exactly why I offer my designs up as a course. I know I can spend the time explaining each part separately via video then, and be on hand to answer any questions after that via WhatsApp.

I try to price my courses at around £3.50 per session (which is a weekly update), which I think is pretty good value considering the time it takes me to put it together.

  • First I make the blanket. As I create each part I scribble down (in really bad shorthand) the pattern. Then I remake each piece to write down the pattern correctly.
  • Next I make it again but this time with the video camera on, explaining the steps as I go.
  • Then I edit all the swear words out.
  • Next I re-watch the video while making the piece again, to check the video works correctly.
  • The next step is to again watch the video while typing the pattern up in full so they both correlate with each other.
  • After that I add parts into the written pattern like colourways and little tricks.
  • Then I save it as a PDF so I can send it easier.
  • Next I upload the video to YouTube so I have a link to share with the course members.
  • A video is made separately for every part of the pattern, and for joining, edging , borders and anything else that might be needed. Patterns are written to match them all.
  • After that, I make the whole thing again, from scratch (usually in another colour) to check that it really does work.
  • THEN... I release it as a course. :)

Just thought you might be interested in the process and why it sometimes seems that I have disappeared - I have not, I am usually just working hard in the background.
And also why I feel my courses are good value for money. :)


Anyway, this particular course should be ready to go in the next couple of weeks. Shout back at me if you fancy it :)

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Pampas Glass - an improvisation.

 

 When I heard about this assignment I smiled to myself - improvisation, it's what I do all of the time.  I have an idea, I don't have the bits needed to carry it out, so I improvise and change this for that, and that for this, until I have managed to come up with something.


So, I wanted to force myself to work a little differently.  

Based on this quote, especially the last bit.....

"Something that is improvised, in particular a piece of music, drama, etc. created spontaneously or without preparation."

I decided I would 'just do it', go for it, roll with the flow.  

I wanted to create a piece of Pampas Grass just out of stuff I had laying about.

First I started with a piece of found driftwood. I thought it was a nice shape to represent the Pampas stalk, once I had chopped the end off to make it straight.


Next I drilled holes in it.  First I started drilling holes the size of the glass rods I was planning to use, but very quickly realised that if I had holes that large (8-10mm) I wouldn't be able to fit many rods in and I wanted it to be quite full.  So I swapped to a 3mm drill pieces and drilled about 80 holes with that.... at a downward slant.


Have you ever drilled found driftwood?  It really is quite nasty.  The smell of dead fish, salt and rotting seaweed is not the nicest aroma in the world!

Once the holes were drilled I needed to sort out some glass.

I found a pile of glass rods in a nice creamy ivory colour which I thought would work well.


And the next step was to go and melt them on the torch.  I had two things to do, one was to round of the end so it looked a bit more natural  (and also wouldn't be sharp to work with) and the other was to melt the other end and pull it into a point so it would fit into my smaller drill holes.


So, off to the torch I went, melted my ends and then melted the centre so I could pull the two ends apart to make a thin section.  I then snipped this section to create two pieces which would stick into my wood.




Then all I had left to do was to assemble it.

I found a couple of old plant pots, stuck my driftwood in them and packed them out with little pebbles from my garden so the wood wouldn't move.


Then I started to stick in my glass rods.


But it some became apparent that I had totally underestimated how much glass I would need, I had way more holes than glass - and none of that particular glass left, so I had to improvise and use a different colour to make some more.

I wasn't too happy about this at first, until I had put a couple of the new colour in place, which was like a transparent straw colour, and realised it worked rather well.


And that is my improvised, finished piece of Pampas Grass..... although it looks more like a cactus.

If I had of had more glass I might have worked further down the stem with it, sadly I have nothing left in that kind of shade.  I think it works quite well in a way though.

I am calling it my Pampas Glass!