(click to download)
For May I return to Venice, with these two transparent green glass forms that probably were the base of a big blown vase.
With so many Dutch beauties blooming away, showing a field of pinks, purples and reds, I couldn’t keep from cutting some for a bouquet… I have to tell you, the garden has me in its grasp! It makes me do things I haven’t really done in years, since I was a kid, like picking flowers and the cheer joy it brings… And like back then, this bouquet I gave to my mother.
The more delicate tulips like the white/pink ones with the frizzed edges (tulipa Huis ten Bosch) or the red parrot tulip on the right (with the curly petals) seemed a little lost amidst the rest, so I thought it would be nice to admire them up close in a vase. Yes, it’s that latticino vase from the March calendar! There are still plenty in the front garden though, charming neighbours and passers-by and it almost seems they are somewhat complementary to the rampant dandelions on the driveway, lol (I still have to deal with those). Can’t wait to fill up the rest of the front garden at the end of the summer (so far it’s been “tulip’d” about halfway)…
Tulipomania or Tulip mania was a short period in the 17th Century in the Netherlands during which tulips became immensely wanted; prices rocketed and then plummeted again. Combined with the popularity of the Vanitas theme, this also led to many wonderful still lives of flower bouquets and botanical paintings…
A lovely walk in the woods, on a sunday afternoon in April, with the wild hyacinths and anemones blooming…
Weathered tree stumps become a host for new life.
This is on one of the hills surrounding Ronse, with some great views.
The red brick chapel is one of the places where the Fiertel procession passes, and many pilgrims throughout the years have carved their name in the brick walls…
I haven’t talked about this walking trail yet but I’ve been walking there for years… mostly because it’s so easy (it starts at the end of the road where my mother’s house is), you can do it without hiking gear (as I usually get muddy and only then realise I’m wearing my pretty shoes…) and it has a lot of variety.
There are views over the fields and surrounding hills, there are forested areas…and since it used to be a railroad that has been asphalted, it is even. It’s great on foot, accessible by wheelchair and a lot of fun by bike! It’s my favourite.
It was one of the first real spring days…sunny and blossomy!
The big discovery of this “expedition” was this curious growth near a tree, a parasitic plant called Lathraea clandestina (schubwortel in Dutch) that feeds off tree roots and blooms in early spring. It is a rare plant in Belgium. Supposedly imported from South Europe and not very wide spread in the Low Countries.
I discovered the biggest patch which poked through the leaves, and then began to remove more leaves, revealing more and more patches, so it seems this beech is quite “infected” with it. But apparently the trees don’t suffer so much from these otherworldly looking parasites.
By the way, the English name of this plant is toothwort, because the white stubby leaves (the plant doesn’t have any chlorophyl) look like teeth… imagine them nibbling on your toes when you’re walking past! Hehe. Beware of the woods in Ronse!
Remember that tub full of tulip bulbs in October? After a whole winter underground, they’ve been popping up and one by one they’re starting to bloom… Different types of tulips means they all have their own internal clock, some have started blooming early and some are still waking up… It’s fun to discover who’s up next!
It started with snow drops, crocuses, intensely fragrant hyacinths and then the narcissus…
The front garden is by far not finished yet, but is already looking a lot more cheerful than a year ago. About half of the surface is now covered in tulips and muscari! Shades of blue, pink, salmon and purple (and dark red which I thought would be black!).
- The white ones at the front with purple streaks are Tulipa Flaming Flag,
- the dark red ones are Tulipa Ronaldo -both are blooming in their second year
- the glorious & tall salmon pink ones are Tulipa Van Eijk
- the pale pink ones are Candy Prince and their purple counterpart Purple Prince
- for some reason there was a row of stray yellow-red tulips that bloomed first, making a mess of my color scheme! LOL
Well, maybe I should call this a calendar for mid-April! I’m late (again…) because I’ve spent every free moment I had outside… Ever since I moved to Ronse I find myself drawn to the landscape, the flowing fields and the woods on the hills! I have a few posts ready about my explorations so you can discover this landscape with me.
For the calendar of April I wanted to show you a little work-in-process image of my fur/landscape project. I’ve been searching for a way that worked in translating that soft feeling of fur, a sense of movement as with grass in a field, while still indicating something glasslike and fragile. I’ve come a long way with it, as you can see in the posts from a few months back (november and december). I explain how I came to it in one of upcoming posts; for now, enjoy your calendar!
(click image to download)
Oh dear, I’m a little late! Sorry about that. School(s) and a new job have taken over my life again. But here is March, all festive and topsy-turvy!
This fun small blown glass vase was made in the traditional Venetian latticino technique, and for some reason got dumped with a bunch of wine and beer bottles on the streets in Ghent! Crazy. So I rescued it, and now it’s here…
I love how the lines in the back get distorted by the ever so slight relief of the lines on the surface on front.
Maybe the striped pattern was too old-fashioned, too busy. I can understand, Venetian styles are so very kitschy! But at the same time this vase represents a glass blowing technique that requires so much practise and dexterity. This isn’t just a stripy vase to be tucked at the back of the cupboard, or in the attic, but it represents someones dedication to a craft, and shows the tradition it comes from. Even the colours aren’t random but connect to the tradition.
To give you an idea of how this vase was made, here’s a video made in the hotshop of the Corning Museum of Glass of a technique that’s even more virtuoso; it consists of a double row of lines, to mimic lace and is called reticello:
p.s. I want that glass cane guillotine! Hehe.
These worries weighed on me for years, until finally, keeping a journal helped me resolve some of these questions. Drawings are “feather-thoughts”—ideas that I catch in the air and commit to paper. All of my thoughts are visual, but often, the subjects of my drawings aren’t translated into sculpture until years later. So a lot of what appears in my drawings is never explored. Abstract drawings come from a deep need for calm, rest, and sleep, and they spring up directly from the subconscious. Realistic drawings are the surpassing of a negative memory, the need to erase it, to eliminate it.
What would I be without my notebooks? I’ve kept a variety of diaries, sketchbooks and “research” notes since I was a kid. At first I collected all sorts of cool facts on the natural world around me, as well as stones and fossils (and dinosaurs!) and mixed that with my own experiences and discoveries. My “nature books” had a bit of everything: dried flowers, written observations, lots of collage and some sketches. I even started a separate one on dinosaurs alone, because I was a little obsessed at the time and dinosaurs are fantastic.
Later on, during a difficult period in secondary school (I was bullied), I read Anne Frank’s diary and I started my own. I even adapted her letter-writing diary style for a few years. I’m happy that I developed this habit of writing about my inner life at the age of 13 and have maintained this ever since. It’s been a life-saver. Even when you can’t talk to anyone, you don’t have to keep it all in and paper is always forgiving… And then you go back to what you’ve written before, and it starts making sense; you become your own counselor.
Only much later in my twenties, around 2006-2007 I began to collect my visual ideas in dedicated notebooks. I should show you the development of the notebooks some time, when the daylight is better than on this dark February day… The curious thing is that these notebooks are a lot like the earliest ones, the nature books. I’d even say that they pick up where the nature books ended!
They’re filled with research, quotes, sketches and technical processes, … mostly focused on my own artistic process and who (or what) inspires me. And at the same time, they have the same aura of privacy that my diaries have. It’s not that they contain anything secret but to me they are certainly private to an extend. What’s going on in there isn’t ready yet, it’s all squishy and not articulate. It’s still happening, not quite done yet. I don’t want to share that with whomever, although I don’t mind sharing parts of it (which more or less end up as blog posts anyway).
Interestingly, a few months ago Anne-Marie Van Sprang taught a great workshop in Sint Lucas on the most gorgeous white porcelain, and she mentioned the importance of jotting down your thoughts as part of documenting the process, while you’re working, so you can revisit them when you reconstruct your working process afterwards. Making sketches was important as well, but she emphasised the combination of the visual and the written.
As I am writing this, it makes perfect sense but when I heard her say it at the time it was a revelation. The permission to be private, and allowing yourself to open up in a place of safety (even if that place is just a notebook), that’s a big thing. At least for me, but surely I’m not alone in this sentiment!
In my own work I know that I tend to keep to the safe side of abstract, organic, geometric design which can be interpreted in various ways and doesn’t directly link to my personal experience. It could be, for me, but it wouldn’t be directly revealed by the form. It works rather through concepts than personal history. I love how Louise Bourgeois herself makes the distinction between her abstract, perhaps meditative sketches and her raw figurative ones that link right back to memories and things she had to work through. I actually try my best not to give myself away, fearing to reveal too much, but I’m learning to trust the process and by writing as well as drawing work towards more connected and personal work.
To be continued…
|(click picture to download)|
Here is subtle-hued February with a detail from one of the tests for my thesis project!
Just like before, the desktop image uses a white background with a handwritten calendar for the month, and I’ve added the most important moon phases too: ○ full moon & ● new moon.
The resolution is 2560×1600, which should fit most computer screens. You can download different sizes from the link.
So here you have a picture of white translucent glass that is sometimes referred to as milk glass or “opaline” (milk glass can also refer to transparent glass with a thin layer of white glass). It was incredibly sought after in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco period for its opalescence and color shifts, reminding of opal gemstones and moonstones. One artist that is typically associated with it is René Lalique, who trained as a goldsmith and became a glass artist; a quick search on “Lalique + opalescent” gives you an indication of his range.
|A hair slide by René Lalique in the British Museum (London)
in gold, carved horn and opals (photo by me)
This curious glass shifts from yellowish to blue, depending on how the light hits it. You really have to see this for yourself because it’s amazing and mysterious… If you didn’t know better you might think it was just a bland piece of glass, but once it catches light it comes to life! This color shift is known as Raleigh scattering, an optical phenomenon that also explains why the sky is blue.
|Light shining through reveals warm tints|
|Light shining on it reveals the blue! A lampwork and millefiori cab…|
|…that I made into a pendant back in 2010!|
|(click picture to download)|
Happy 2016! Here you go, a bright new look for your computer desktop!
I want to breathe new life into a little project that I had to abort way too soon because of college work… but now the end is in sight, and I hope you will like the new glassy inspirations I’m cooking up for you this year!
Just like before, the desktop image uses a white background with a handwritten calendar for the month, and I’ve added the most important moon phases too: ○ full moon & ● new moon.
The resolution is 2560×1600, which should fit most computer screens.
This blue chunk of glass is a treasure I picked up in Venice (when I visited the city in 2013), on the “glass island” Murano . It has been molten and hotworked with in the glass blowing studios. This is part of the waste, actually, but don’t you think it looks like a gemstone?
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js A sunrise video from this morning, with planes drawing lines in the sky, the sun catching them and the wind diffusing them – this is my goodbye to 2015… So happy to share this room with a view with you on the blog and in the photos (where you can watch a full screen version).
May 2016 bring you many new wonders and discoveries!
|A copper gilded mirror (convex oval)|
Ever since we were introduced to goudleder – “Cuir de Cordoue“, in Prof. Em. A. Bergmans class of History of interior, I’ve developed a fascination for gilded surfaces and am doing some research on it, especially (guess what…) how it’s applied to glass. Even in the history of glass alone there is so much to discover… Do you recognise this mirror from a famous 15th century portrait? And did you know that this type of convex round mirror was called an “Oeil de sorcière” (witches’ eye)?
|“The Arnolfini Portrait (mirror detail)” by Creator:Jan van Eyck – Image:Jan van Eyck 001.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.|
Verre églomisé was a decorative technique, often combining the gilded surface with reverse painting (on the back of the glass), so that the glass itself can act as protection and lens (of sorts). Mind you, this wasn’t the way functional mirrors were made in the past; since the Renaissance a tin-mercury amalgam was used to create a smooth reflective surface, and Venice was one of the manufacturing centers.
|A detail of the copper mirror, seen on the back showing the bare metal leaf.|
In using metal leaf, it is impossible to obtain such a smooth surface, but that doesn’t matter. It is precisely the edges of the leaves, the tiny folds and crinkles that make the mirror seem more alive. Also it gives the opportunity to oxidise the metal so it darkens; you can already see this happening in some of the patches in the mirror detail above!)
The reflection of a gilded mirror is softer, almost painterly. I love this effect. Since there’s so much going on with the reflection already, the form of the mirror doesn’t have to be complex. The convex/concave distortion is interesting, and I’m working on some forms but still debating if I want them to be more organic or geometric…
For inspiration I’ve turned to Pinterest, with a collection of artistic and contemporary examples. Feel free to take a look!
The little test dome I showed you last time has been fired. It was fun to revisit the techniques I had acquired for my research into historical pâte de verre (the wax dome itself was one of the models after Despret’s that were left over!), but giving it a more personal and decidedly prickly twist.
|With the wax steamed out, only the glass pins remained embedded in the mould.|
The glass pins that I had heated one by one in the flame of a candle and pushed into the wax, had all been embedded in the plaster/silica mould. The wax was steamed out and I added pâte de verre to the surface, and fired it in the kiln. Since it was such a small form, I did this in my own tiny Paragon SC3 kiln instead of the industrial ones at Sint Lucas. I hadn’t used the oven in quite a while so I was happy to find out that everything still worked!
|The mould after firing (on the marble cement floor in the oldest part of the house).|
Now, I knew the real fun would only start with removing the mould material from the fired glass… I couldn’t just hack away the bits of plaster/silica and glass fibre, because the 1mm glass pins could so easily break. It needed a gentle approach…
|Slowly but surely…|
Thanks to an old toothbrush and a couple of wooden toothpicks I eventually managed to not break every pin I had put on earlier. Heh. But it was tricky! The secret was mostly to soak it in warm, salty (soda) water for a couple of hours, and then the very gentle prodding began… it was a calm and precise work, taking care not to use too much pressure.
|Here you go: a glassy punk!|
This is the result so far: a translucent dome partly covered with glass pins. It’s a start; it already tells us a couple of things. I like the translucency so that it almost fades into the background…The surface looked almost blurred, only when you examine it from close by you see the “hairs”.
But it needs more tweaking and experimenting. One thing I don’t like is the diameter of the hairs, which look more like pins than fine hairs. This has to do with the proportions and if the model had been bigger it wouldn’t have been such an issue. The plan is to scale it up.
Another thing is this quality that fur has; since it is embedded in elastic skin it moves and ripples with movement or draping. This I’d love to transfer to the glass fur too… So I’m experimenting with more elastic materials for the skin: transparent silicone and textiles.
To be continued!
The turning point came as the new year of 1708 dawned. A handwritten sheet in Böttger’s eccentric mixture of Latin and German dated 15 January 1708, recorded a list of seven recipes:
N 1 clay only
N 2 clay and alabaster in the ratio of 4:1N 3 clay and alabaster in the ratio of 5:1N 4 clay and alabaster in the ratio of 6:1N 5 clay and alabaster in the ratio of 7:1N 6 clay and alabaster in the ratio of 8:1N 7 clay and alabaster in the ratio of 9:1The results of the test firings were more startling than even he had dared hope. After five hours in the kiln, Böttger records, the first sample had a white appearance; the second and third had collapsed; the fourth remained in shape but looked discoloured. The last three held him spellbound.These small, insignificant-looking plaques had withstood the searing heat of the kiln; they had remained in shape and intact. More importantly they were ‘album et pellucidatum‘ – white and translucent. In the dank, squalid laboratory the twenty-seven-year-old Böttger had succeeded where everyone else had failed. The arcanum for porcelain for which all Europe had searched now lay within his grasp.
Skin protects our bodies, and skin coverings reinforce that function. Maybe the cats have anything to do with my fascination of fur and how a mass of hairs becomes an entity of its own… Fur is vital for animals and in archetypal symbology it has the ability to foresee danger (see the quote below, from C. Pinkola Estés’s Sealskin, Soulskin tale).
|Carefully cut glass stringers, heated in the flame of a candle and prodded into the wax model.|
Glass is very thermoplastic; it deforms and distorts in intense heat and can melt into a puddle…but it can also just subtly start to move, under the influence of gravity in a heated kiln or in the flame of a burner.
|I love how the surface seems to be dissolving when see through this mass of stringers!|
|a little detail of Assepoes’s nose, showing how her fur “flows” in several directions.|
If we delve into the symbol of animal hide, we find that in all animals, including ourselves, piloerection – hair standing on end – occurs in response to things seen as well as things sensed. The rising hair of the pelt sends a “chill” through the creature and rouses suspicion, caution, and other protective traits. Among the Inuit it is said that both fur and feathers have the ability to see what goes on far off in the distance, and why an angakok, shaman, wears many furs, many feathers, so as to have hundreds of eyes to better see into the mysteries. The sealskin is a symbol of soul that not only provides warmth, but also provides an early warning system through its vision as well.
On a lazy sunday (which seems rare these days) I’ve been painting the walls in the hall. I decided to finish the nearly empty bucket so I wouldn’t be greeted with any more unexpected painting opportunities…
So while I was busy I decided to catch up with some of my favourite podcasts. I don’t always have time to listen, but some tasks – like painting the walls, or when I’m knotting or stringing beads – are so inviting to listen to other people tell stories. I kind of miss the days of the radio plays… I remember taping a radio play about Felix Mendelssohn who wrote his first opera as a teenager and my nerdy 14-year old self thought that was so cool…and it prompted me to try some composing as well. I loved discovering composers, artists and other famous dead people and how they were as kids. It was reassuring that they were often just as awkward and weirdly obsessed with music or art or whatever their thing was.
Now I still love to discover how artists live and work or what makes them tick, and if they’re alive and well it’s a big bonus! Hehe. So I listened to The jealous curator, who has a conversation with a different artist each week. I love how relaxed the conversations are although there’s room for the more challenging aspects of creative life (like that pesky inner critic)…but that’s often exactly what appeals to me. The artists are usually new to me, mostly American or Canadian but there are some Belgians on there too (not on podcast though). It’s great to discover new artists!
There are a couple of other blogs that also feature artists: for Dutch speakers there’s the excellent blog of Hilde van Canneyt, Gesprekken met hedendaagse kunstenaars, and I also check Freunde von Freunden. In this international blog a wide range of creative professionals over the world get interviewed and pictures of their home and studio are shown, but I don’t always feel a connection with them. I guess it has to do with the more formal style of the interviews, the focus on success and confidence, and the often incredibly gorgeous interiors. I mean, they are fabulous and to some extent inspiring, but the they don’t always feel lived in.
This was so different in the On your desk photo series on author and artist Terri Windling’s blog, which consisted of just a few personal snapshots of the studio work table or the writing desk of writers and artists who visited her blog, often with glimpses in their book cases or the pinned up inspirations and their feline or canine companions… It felt way more real to me, and intimate. Our (creative) lives aren’t polished, nor should they be…
|On my desk (or rather next to it), a few months ago:
my thesis assistants Assepoes and Isaura
(and Takkie, my trusty USB dog)
|Raw materials, calculating ingredients for recipes, measuring exact quantities, … A challenge for this absent-minded brain but at the same time I love it! A bit of “work” for the playfulness that comes with good, well-measured recipes.|
Some time ago I came across this simple clay recipe that consisted of 50% clay and 50% glass, for a clay body that was supposed to be wonderfully translucent. It was linked with the first European attempts in the 18th Century to recreate Chinese porcelain; at first they didn’t manage to find the high firing recipe but developed several low firing ones, like the one I’m researching.
What fascinates me about this history isn’t so much the fact that they did, in the end, find a real, high firing porcelain clay body but the wildly experimental, alchemical process of developing these recipes that have all sorts of interesting properties in themselves.
|prior to mixing the batches: putting the necessary and clearly labeled quantities
of glass (square boxes in front with white powder) and clay
(soup buckets behind; greyish powder) together
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js It also tickles me to explore the boundaries between ceramics and glass. With a recipe like this, is it still clay? Does it look like glass or not? So what I’m doing now is making a binary series of this recipe: a gradual mix of the ingredients, with 100% clay on one side, and 100% glass on the other, and then I mix them with amounts of 10%.
The clay mix consists of 50% kaolin and 50% ball clay; the glass powder is the finest clear Bullseye frit.
This phase is very technical, there’s not a lot of room for creativity yet… but I’m curious what will come out of it. If this goes well, I’ll have a whole range of clay/glass bodies to play with!
|the clay part is in itself a mix of two clays:
kaolin (this is the white powder; the main ingredient in porcelain)
and ball clay (greyish powder; a very plastic clay)
|making clay: adding clay powder to a certain amount
of water (and mixing and sieving again later on)
Work? What I live for.
This is a little snippet from Tharp’s creative autobiography, one of the exercises in the book. It gives you an idea of how she writes: I love her direct and accessible language, and even just in the words you can feel the rhythm and movement coming through – she dances in her texts!
I’ve been looking for a certain lecture she gave (in the 90’s I think) where she was talking and started to make little movements with her hands and body as a companion to her words. It was fascinating! Words can only express so much, I love how she emphasised it with her movements. I can’t find it right now but will keep looking and post it when I do. For now, if you’re not familiar with her vast oeuvre, have a look at her homepage: www.twylatharp.org
Tharp, Twyla & Reiter, Marc. The creative habit: learn it and use it for life: a practical guide. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2003. Worldcat
So I was in need of a potter’s wheel for the ceramics studio, searched for it for a long time. Electrical throwing wheels are pretty expensive, and my “studio” (which is just the old garage) doesn’t have any electricity yet, so I got this rather romantic idea of finding an old mechanical one; a kick wheel. I envisioned hauling it into the garden during the summer and working en plein air… (yeah, I guess I have some hippy tendencies! Hehe)
This machine is operated by kicking the big wheel underneath with your foot, which takes some getting used too coordinating hands and foot… it also turns a lot slower than an electrical wheel, although you wouldn’t get that impression from my silly little time-lapsy video. Enjoy the demonstration and an unimpressed Assepoes!
|Assepoes in clair-obscur, in the very last sunrays of the evening|
|the tulip bulbs are eager to go underground again…|
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js It almost seems to have become a yearly ritual, returning to this virtual home of a blog in October. I like the term “resurfacing”, as if life takes part under the surface of the earth for a period, seemingly inexistent…until it suddenly pops up again, showing its face. Springtime in autumn, hehe.
Well, most of my invisible, underground work in the previous months consisted of dealing with Dad’s Alzheimer’s and the changes it brought to his and our lives, and working on my Master’s thesis for art history (which I finished in August). It has been a turbulent period but we’re all in a better place now than we were before. And in the mean time I’ve also been adjusting to a new town, to this new (old) house and a neglected garden that I’ve been tending to.
Creatively I haven’t been as prolific this past year as I wanted, as I needed to focus on other issues. So even my creativity went underground. Luckily the garden has been a great teacher. Getting my hands dirty, learning about the soil, the plants, doing garden archeology, finding “treasures” (well… mostly just rusty beer bottle caps really, lol) and learning about the people who lived here before and how they treated the garden… And the best thing about a neglected garden, is that your imagination can take it anywhere!
An old house comes with many treasures… like old wallpaper!
|these big 70’s flowers and geometric design are in a walk-in cupboard.
They’re a bit over the top. But I like them! They can stay…
|These cosy flowers decorated the toilet…
they got painted over except for the back wall,
so the beige toilet doesn’t look so very beige against all the white… :-p
|This one I adore! it was under the stairs, going down to the cellar,
but most of it got removed for the renovations (luckily I took this photo).
It has such a wonderful folksy 70’s vibe! I love those colors!
|Japanese textile pattern in the stairway to the 1st floor.
I loved it but looked fairly degraded, and a bit dark and busy
for the narrow space it was in…so this became white too.
|a random snapshot during the renovations.
The previous owners had taken such care of the decoration of this piece of multiplex
that possibly covered the wood stove (or perhaps part of a cupboard).
|Oh, and before I moved in there had been squatters too.
The back door didn’t have a lock… They left this smiley among other things that weren’t so cute. :-p
Smiley can stay for now.
|I love what the runny spray paint did with the textured wallpaper…|
|…and like that I’m turning the house into a blank canvas, ready for a new life!
I love how everyone who lived here has left some sort of mark, I don’t need to erase it all.
Now it’s my turn to make my own…
This is a piece of bread I baked some time ago with a good dose of turmeric, which gives it this lovely bright shade of yellow… just in case you wondered in my last post how it looked like. The juicy redness on top is beet salad, and there’s a buttercup and a leaf of melissa officinalis. Hopefully I can get into the bread baking thing again soon, once the kitchen is done!
|fern at the edge of the forest|
|lots and lots of fine spider threads, carried by the air|
|the landscape I’m learning to call my home!|
My friend Liesbet took me on a walking trip somewhere between Ronse and Brakel, on a very beautiful, scenic route that I didn’t know yet (those are our shadows in the right bottom corner). The air was fresh and leafy and our boots got properly muddy. Afterwards we had a ginger latte (she brought with her, yum!) and carrot-ginger-curcuma-almond cake (my very yellow experiment).
It’s been a while since my last post so it’s about time I give you an update! The summer has passed like a storm, and meanwhile I’m back at college finishing my master’s degree this semester, while continuing with my liberal arts degree at Sint Lucas in the 2nd semester.
So I’m a bit late with my Master’s but I hope I can get it done now. I have to redo a couple of courses and finish writing that thesis… That wasn’t the plan, mind you; I was hoping to be finished by September. But the summer proved to be quite much.
Perhaps it was to be expected: moving to my new house, renovating it, working on a lecture on my thesis and all the little and big things that come with moving into a new place didn’t give me much of a break (although I had help on many levels from some truly awesome people! 🙂 ). And hardly had I moved in or we heard about my dad’s accident and hospital stay, so mom and I dropped everything and took care of things in Antwerp. He’s fine now although some things have changed (I’ll talk about that some other time).
And so I’ve been catapulted into a new school year, a little exhausted but equally positive that everything will work out this year. If I stay mindful of the traps of burnout, things will be alright. I was in worse shape last year, after three years of intense studying and having combined two studies the year before. I’ve been doing pretty well in my studies, but I’m an idiot for not seeing that it would become too much. Or at least I knew I was playing with fire, having had energy issues before, but this was such a wonderful chance and I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. So I took that chance, and I’m not looking back.
Still I tumbled into an episode of burnout a year ago. Exhaustion, inertia and big emotions: it’s a mess. Literally and figuratively! But it helped me realise I had to change the way I handled things (thanks to a wonderful therapist) and have been working on them since, one of which was the place I lived in. As much as I had loved living in the cute little house in Ghent, I had grown too big for it over the years (a bit like Alice!). So the hunt for a new place was on, and with mom’s help we found it the day before my birthday! I wasn’t planning at all to move to a small town like Ronse (my mom lives here), but when we visited it we knew it was “the one”. I’ll gush about it next time, with all the proper pictures and renovation stories! No worries. So I scheduled to move after the exams in June and that’s how that roller coaster of a summer started…
And now you know what I’ve been up to.
I long to get back on the blogging horse properly, sharing some hopefully inspiring things, books and people, and keeping you updated on my projects and adventures… But I’m learning to take it a day at a time, so I won’t make any promises I can’t keep. I’ll do what I can and thank you for understanding!
a little intro
This is a post on my thesis subject, Georges Despret, who was a Belgian-French industrial who developed the pâte de verre technique around 1900. He’s the subject of my Master’s thesis at UGent, and of the technical and practical research I’m doing at Sint Lucas(now Luca School of Arts) Gent. And I’m happy to share it with you!
reconstruction of a working process
At Luca I’m piecing together how Despret might have made one of his pâte de verre bowls, by making one from scratch. I’ve been working in the glass and ceramics studios, so this is a hands-on type of research, figuring out how each step of his work process might have looked like. It’s partly based on historical sources and contemporary research into historical pâte de verre, and partly on the process of making itself.
|Georges Despret – bowl from 1906 – Design Museum Ghent|
Of course it’s impossible to replicate the exact circumstances in which Despret worked – this wasn’t my intention, but I reasoned that making one of his bowls could be a helpful complimentary method since there are very little historical sources left. His archives and many of his artworks were lost during the first year of World War I, when his manufacture in Jeumont (north of France) was reduced to ruins in an explosion. There he had built a museum that showed everything his manufacture was capable of, with an emphasis on the artistic glass objects. But all of that has been destroyed.
So I’ve based my practical research on what remains: his glass objects kept in museums all over the world, his collaborators like sculptor Yvonne Serruys (on whom my promotor Prof. Dr. M. Sterckx is a specialist) and ceramics collector Géo Nicolet; a few archival documents, some contemporary press, and recent research. Next to that I’ve looked at the discoveries and techniques of other pâte de verre artists, like Henry Cros (the pioneer to whom Despret looked up), Decorchemont, Argy-Rousseau and Walter.
The little (and big) parts I couldn’t find an answer to anyhow, I’ve tried to find through experimentation, So there’s a degree of hypothesis in my research I’m well aware of, but that doesn’t make this project any less worthwhile. I’ve received fantastic help from my teachers at Luca, my promotor at the UGent, the city of Jeumont and the curators of the Design Museum Gent and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. And all the fantastic librarians!
This research project will become a chapter in my Master’s thesis (it’s due in August, so I’m still working on it), but I also wanted to give a more personal account of it, showing you what I’ve been up to in the past 7 months. A bit like my studio and work in progress pictures. Thanks for reading!
Edited to add: here is an account of my technical research (pdf, in Dutch).
a few links:
Despret on Wikipedia (in French)
Despret in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass
Mémoire vivante de Jeumont with photos of Despret’s castle in ruins after WW I, close to his manufactures
|anonymous Moroccan woven headscarf|
|detail of the delicate work of Saskja Snauwaert|
|Karen Santen‘s ceramics against a Moroccan carpet|
|woven carpet by anonymous Moroccan women|
|installation; forgot to note this artist’s name|
|Sanne Dewolf & Christine Clinckx|
|Tamara van San|