Friday 26 February 2021

My sustainability project.

  I have finished my uni piece for my 'Sustainability' assignment.

Due to the fact the working with glass isn't one of the most sustainable art forms, I decided to create a piece that might draw attention to the plight of the planet instead.  

I also decided that I would not purchase anything to create this piece, but concentrated on working with things I already had.

In my head I wanted to make a clock, to draw attention to the fact that we have limited time left to help the planet.

I had a box of mini wine bottles that I scrubbed and dried, then popped in the kiln to melt down flat.

My kiln is quite an energy efficient one, as it's not soo big, but I did need to do a couple of firings to complete my piece.

Once they were flat I messed about for a bit trying to decide on a formation. Ideally I would have liked to use all twelve bottles, but this was going to make the clock too heavy to hang.  In the end I decided on a formation of eight bottles, leaving some to use in another project at a later date.

I cut the numbers out of old copper sheet that I had rescued from a fire pit.

Once that was all nicely fused I was just going to fit a clock part, when I came across a clock kit in my stash that had an interesting wooden ring. Immediately I thought this would be excellent as a 'warning' ring if painted red.  Warning road signs are usually red rings.  

Because there was also another piece of round wood in the kit, I could sandwich the glass in-between the pieces with glass glue and bolts - therefore making it a much sturdier piece to hang on the wall.

As I now had a red warning ring I felt like I needed a warning statement to go on it.  My daughter helped me out with that - I wanted both the words 'Time' and 'Waste' within it.  She she wrote... "Don't call time on the Earth, reuse, don't waste". That worked really well so I wrote it on.

I was VERY unhappy with this as my handwriting is appallingly bad.  So it was back to the drawing board for that.

After a quick repaint, I dug out my vinyl cutting machine and I had some scraps of black vinyl left that had come from my old shop many years ago.  I cut out the words by machine this time and it looked so much better.  Using the vinyl was something I wanted to avoid if possible, due to it being plastic.  If it wasn't lockdown and I could have found someone with nice handwriting I would have definitely done it that way instead.

Now it was time to put it all together and add the clock mechanism.

And my piece was finished.  And it holds it's own weight well on the wall... and you can tell the time so it's functional too, as well as being a conversation starter,

I have enjoyed this project. I particularly like working with materials that might have otherwise gone in the bin.  Giving something a repurpose is something I try to do in other aspects of my life, like adapting clothing and sprucing up furniture.  So this assignment was right up my street.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

A little stumble....

 Today I had a meltdown, like a six year old might, when my project didn't end up looking how I wanted it to look!

The day started well with me managing to scrounge some nuts and bolts off my Husbands friend - I am trying very hard not to purchase a single thing towards the making of this clock, so if I don't personally have what I need I will ask other people if they have it.  If they don't I will have to rethink my plan.

I then had to mark off where to drill on my ring, and the piece that would sit underneath, and find a drill bit large enough to accommodate the bolt.  My first attempt at drilling a hole wasn't massively successful as the wood all chipped badly on the back.

So I gripped it to the underneath piece and decided to drill them together.  This didn't work well either as the wood then just chipped under the second bit.

So I then drilled right through both and into a scrap piece of wood.  This worked!

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.... as they say.

I didn't want the bolts to be black, so I drilled a load of holes in a scrap of wood to stand them up in while I spray painted them.  I also painted the two pieces of wood as the same time to hide all the chipped holes.

Once the paint was dry it was time to work on the wording.

My daughter had come up with a nice slogan that I thought would work well.  I wanted the word 'Time' in it, and also the word 'Waste'.

"Don't call time on the earth, reused, don't waste"

I liked this so I then proceeded to write it on the ring, in-between the screw holes.

And this is where my meltdown began..... why I even attempted it in the first place is beyond me, I know my handwriting is complete scrawl.

I type, I have no need to write.  Maybe that's a skill I should work on for the future.

The worst bit was, I didn't actually have my meltdown at this point, where it would have been much easier to rectify... no, I waited until I had glued all the wood into place on the glass bottles and screwed all the bolts tightly into place too.  THEN I decided to have my tantrum.

I decided to pour myself a rather large glass of wine and put it all away to deal with another day.

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Thanking the Kiln Gods.

  The Kiln Gods were good to me overnight, when I opened the lid of 'big blue' my faithful kiln I was so relieved to see a piece that had worked how I wanted it to.  Always a risky business using recycled glass.

It had slumped down pretty evenly and the numbers had worked.  Big thumbs up all round.

So, off I went to my craft shed to find a clock mechanism that I know I have somewhere as I save all sorts of stuff for 'just-in-case'.

Instead of just finding a mechanism, I actually found a clock kit that someone had gifted me a few years back... now my idea had evolved somewhat, I could use this piece to add something else to the design.

The kit consisted of a wooden clock base, along with a wooden ring and the clock part.

I decided that the ring needed to be bright red... like a warning ring, to warm people about time ticking away to save our planet.

So I painted it all red.

I am going to give it another couple of coats, then work out how to assemble it all!

Monday 22 February 2021

Deciding on a layout for my clock.

  Sometimes I have a determined plan in my head about where a design should end up, and other times  (most others) I just see how the pieces fit together and how much I like the look.

Not just with glass, but also with quilting and crochet, I will lay out a design, take a photo, move it around, take a photo...numerous times.  Then I go and make a cup of tea and flick through the photos, finally choosing a design/layout that way.

You seem to get a different view through a camera, you can certainly spot flaws and mistakes more in a photograph I think.

So I laid my bottles out in the kiln...

Then I decided that I really did need numbers, at least on some of them.

Using some old copper sheet that I had rescued from a fire pit, hence the beautiful colours on it, and cut it up.

I decided on Roman Numerals as it would be much easier to cut straight lines of copper sheets, rather than cut around shaped numbers.

I don't know where my head was when I did this, as I cut enough pieces to make up numbers 1, 3, 6 and 9, it wasn't until I was placing them that I realised I need a 12 instead of a 1.  thank goodness I caught that in time!

So, back to the kiln and laying out a design.

I finally settled on the middle design, it was a difficult decision which I pondered over for sometime.

The bottom design used all 12 bottles, which equated to the 12 numbers on a clock, but it just seemed a little bulky, plus I thought if I halved the use of the green bottles it would leave enough for another art piece in the future perhaps,

The kiln lid is now tightly shut and heating up nicely to fuse all the pieces together.   Fingers crossed!

Sunday 21 February 2021

Experimenting with what I have....

  Because I cannot really totally sustainably make a piece of glass art, I am going to head down the route of making a piece that will raise awareness.   I am also only going to use things that I already have. I am determined not to purchase anything extra but work around design issues to find a solution.

I have decided to make a clock - to show that time is ticking away for the planet and that we, as consumers, need to act now to help keep it safe.

The clock will be made out of the mini wine bottles, I have a clock part in my box of oddments that I can use.... the design will come to me as I put it together.  I have a rough idea of a design, but sometimes when working with glass - especially recycled glass, you have to roll with the punches and change the design at the drop of a hat.

I thought I might like to put some numbers on the clock, so while the kiln was on and melting the wine bottles flat, I added some little pieces of broken bottle to the corner with different things added to try and see if I could make marks.

The results weren't as pleasing as I had hoped, The Reichenbach green wasn't too bad but I would have  need a good thick layer before it looked decent, and the thicker I had it the more chance there would be of it cracking as the two glass types weren't compatible.

The mica powder just brushed right off, off the top fired piece and the piece with it underneath, which I found surprising.

The silver luster was very disappointing, I expected it to turn a nice dark metallic silver and it did ... nothing!

So that left the copper sheet piece. Now I know that copper sheet works well when sandwiched between two layers of glass, but didn't actually think it would adhere when just placed underneath - so this was a pleasant surprise.

Hopefully, I have found the way now to add numbers to my clock.  Happy days!

Friday 19 February 2021

Messing about with wine bottles.

 I seem to manage to collect all sorts of glass  - glass fascinates me and if I see a nice coloured bottle or an interesting shape I can never bring myself to put it in the recycling.   Because of this habit I have amassed quite a collection.

Some I make into pretty lamps, others I melt and make abstract shapes from.

For my sustainability assignment I have decided to try and make a clock out of mini wine bottles. 

I had a box of these mini Mateus Rose bottles, just because they are such a pleasing shape, so thought it was a good time to make them into something new.

So, time for a good scrub.  It took a pan scourer and a teaspoon to scrape all the lables off, and I had to cut off the little wire ring around the neck. Neither of these would have been good in the kiln.

When they were all nice and clean I put the bottles in the kitchen oven to make sure they well and truly dried out.   My kiln is a glass kiln which wouldn't take too kindly to the presence of moisture within it.

I laid them all out, making sure none of them were touching, then programmed the kiln to do an overnight fusing fire.

In the morning I opened the kiln lid to find a set of lovely flat little bottles.  Result!

As my kiln isn't a large one I needed to do two firings to get enough bottles for my piece.  So now another patient wait until tomorrow when the next lot will be ready   :)

Thursday 18 February 2021

My sustainability moodboard.

 My next uni project is based on Sustainability.

To work with glass takes quite a lot of energy. The kiln I use for fusing and slumping is electric, and it could easily be said that the installation of solar panels to power that kiln could make it, in time, more sustainable than it is at the moment by using the national grid.

Lampworking the glass uses tanked propane and oxygen.  The oxygen tank could be replaced by an Oxycon which is run off electricity, but even though I have researched this I cannot find any information to say which would be better for the environment.

Propane is classed as a 'green fuel' as it's carbon content is much lower than other gases therefore its carbon footprint is lower.  Although it is still classed as a fossil fuel it is one of the cleanest burning ones.

To make this project more sustainable than I would usually work  - I am only going to use glass that has had a previous purpose.  In this case mini wine bottles.  I collect mini wine bottles wherever I go because it seems to be such a waste not to do something with them - and over the years I have managed to collect quite a few of this shape.

When you melt glass you have to work alongside the 'coefficiency of expansion', which is simply a measurement that tells you the rate that the glass will cool expand and contract when it is heated and cooled.  Glass with different COE's will not work together as one will cool down quicker than the other and cause a thermal split... the glass will simply separate, or shatter.  So, it is a risk when working with recycled glass as you obviously don't know what the COE is.

But my reasoning is that the wine producer for these bottles, PROBABLY orders them from the same place each time, which PROBABLY uses the same recipe to make the glass, therefore they might PROBABLY work together when melted.  It's a risk.  :)

This project is therefore going to be one to try and raise awareness, to try and make people think twice about just throwing things out, to encourage recycling and upcycling and to show that you can create something new out of something old.

I have decided to make a clock out of the bottles... I found a beautiful glass flower made simply out of blue wine bottles which inspired me to follow that shape.  From this image I have built up a mood board showing the things I will use and highlighting the things that are happening to our planet right now that we need to address.  The clock part will indicate that time is running out if we don't make changes now.

Wednesday 17 February 2021

My Metamorphosis project.


This is my piece for my Metamorphosis project.

The brief was to pick to opposite words and work from one to another showing 5 different stages in-between them both.

I think this piece could be assigned to at least three sets of words.   'Bud to Bloom', 'Flat to Round' and 'Clear to Opaque'.

I started by sketching down my idea - really simply as I am not much of a drawer - but as often happens, something occurs along the way that can send you off in a slightly different direction.

I knew I wanted to start with a flattish plate which was made from completely clear glass.  I created this by cutting the size glass I wanted and fusing it down in the kiln to it softened all the edges making it night and tactile and meaning there was no chance of anyone cutting themselves on any sharp edges should they wish to handle it.

I then popped it back into the kiln on a slumping program to give it a little shape.

The next piece I did was the same clear glass, but this time I laid some coloured stringer on it - stringer is very thin, spaghetti like, sticks of glass that you can easily snap with your fingers.  I laid down a pattern and put it in the kiln to fuse. (Bottom left).

I did another piece with some frit (broken glass, almost the consistency of salt) swishing it about with my fingers to create the design I wanted.  (Top right).

The final two pieces were cut a bit smaller to create the inner parts of my blooming flower dish.  One is transparent red  (top left) and the other is a solid opaque red (bottom right.)

They all survived a fusing firing and came out rather nicely.  So the next step was to pop them back into the kiln using a slumping firing this time.

I got together a few stainless steel pots and beakers to drape them over.  You can buy 'proper' moulds for glass slumping  (as the white one is in the photo) but I have had some great success with stainless steel and you can pick up so many different shapes and sizes, so I prefer to use them.

I use kiln paper, that burns away in the kiln, and just balance it on top and let the kiln do it's thing.

Quite pleased with the result of this.... although the frit decorated one doesn't fit inside the others as I had planned, so that one will be left out of the final piece.  Although it does make a pretty vessel all on its own.

Now that I am having to reject one of the pieces I have to start thinking about making another piece that will work within it.

So, I decide to make two pieces and work out which one looks the nicest.

I made another slumped piece, but much smaller and in black glass, but then wondered if I should change it up quite a lot and make a marble to pop into the centre.

Making the marble is a completely different way of working with glass.  The fused glass work is prepared cold and you let the kiln do the work, but when making a marble you work on a torch with hot molten drippy glass and you have to turn and shape and turn and shape.

Now I find myself with six pieces, so I need to decide which one to leave out.

After a lot of displaying all the pieces in various ways I finally decided on this order....

All coming together to create this one piece.