Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Lost Wax Casting - Linking Elephants

This project was to learn how to create a sculpture from wax and convert it into a glass object.

I decided to make two little elephants that had linking trunks.

It took a while to form the wax, I melted it then had to wait for the right temperature to be able to mould it by hand.  I had to keep it quite warm to make it malleable.

Next step was to insert cocktail sticks to create air holes so the glass can flow more freely when it melts into the mould.

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

·       1lb plaster powder

·       1lb molochite powder

·       1 pint water

Now it was time to cover the elephants in the plaster mix.  Adding layers at a time to ensure all the parts were covered.

Once the moulds were done and dry, it was time to melt out the wax. 

This was done over a steamer, allowing the wax to drip into a tray which meant it could be reused.

Once the wax was out I have to fill the moulds with water to measure how much glass I would need  (2.5 x the amount of water)

The moulds were then put into the drying cupboard.

Once dry, I filled a terractotta plant pot with the correct amount of glass and they went into the kiln.

The mould was positioned with a table above made from kiln props, on this sat a plant pot with my measured amount of glass in it.  Once the glass melted it dripped through the hole in the plant pot down into the mould.

There was a little bit of glass overspill, nothing too dramatic.

Now it was time to very carefully chip away the mould, making sure not to damage the glass inside.

And Voila!  Two little elephants emerge.

Now it was time to do some coldworking. I used a flat bed grinder to remove the bottom slabs of the elephants, taking the glass right back to where the feet would end.


I also used a diamond Dremel bit to grind off any dribbles caused by the toothpicks – like under the trunk and excess around the ears.

Quite pleased with how these turned out, and I learnt so much along the way.

Saturday, 22 January 2022

Tropical Storm through a marble - machine embroidery

 Life through a marble series

Freehand Machine Embroidery & Quilting Technique.

This photograph (below) was taking in Vilamoura in Portugal in 2016.


We were sitting in a deserted beach bar, just two of us as the weather was starting to turn from a lovely bright sunny day, into a chilly, windy evening. 

There was a storm brewing, so we decided to wrap up as warm as we could with our limited holiday clothing, and watch the clouds do their thing.

It was a perfect opportunity to take a photo of the changing light through a marble, resting on the edge of the beach bars fence.

Whilst sitting there I decided to mess about with filters on my iphone, seeing what I could do with the colours and after trying a few I ended up with this colourwash of hues. 

A complete contrast to the dark grey and black that was starting to roll in.

This adapted photo was to be my inspiration for my freehand embroidery piece called “Tropical Storm through a marble”.

I started off with some wadding  (leftover insulation packaging from a food delivery box – made from recycled plastic bottles) and some cream cotton to cover it in.

All of the materials used for this piece have been saved and reclaimed from other projects.

To decide what colours to use, I squinted at the photo, trying just to see the blocks of colours, then pulled the matching fabric out of my stash box and laid it on top of the wadding.

I used a tin bucket to draw around for the ‘marble’ and reversed the fabric selection within that space to show inversion.

I chose a ‘wine’ themed fabric for the actual bar, as I felt it gave a nod to the fact that I was in a bar, having a drink, even though that cannot be seen from the images.

Next job was to use the sewing machine and ‘scribble’ all over the fabrics.

I did this by changing the foot on my machine to an embroidery foot and dropped the ‘feed-dogs’ which meant I could move the needle about freely and not have to work in straight lines.

I looked more closely at the initial image and picked out more subtle colours to do my ‘painting with thread’ with.  I simple drew patterns with my sewing machine until I has added colour to the areas that I thought needed it.

Once it was done  (many, many hours of scribbling) I trimmed off the edges to make it nice and neat.

I then measured a piece of PVC table covering to create a disc the same size as the marble section, and I sewed it in place. 

I though this might give it an extra layer of texture and shine to replicate that the original photo was a marble.

Finally I added a black border to finish it off neatly, hide any stray threads and create a framework around it.


Looking at the finished piece I feel it is quite ‘blocky’.

On reflection, maybe I should have tried to blend the fabric colours together better, creating softer lines between them.  Smaller pieces of fabric would have been trickier to sew in this manner, but might have created a better colour flow.

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.






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.