Sint Lucas Gent – 1Ba Keramiek & Glas

jury 2013
Open day @ Sint Lucas, our studio’s tape & the restorer’s blue screen

So here’s what I’ve been doing in my year-long absence of this blog (and pretty much all of social media). As you may have noticed before, I have a thing for glass. And since 2010 I went back to college to pursue a degree in Art studies. Meanwhile I kept working in the studio whenever I could, which meant almost only in the holidays or the summer recess. My intention to get a college degree is to be able to find (part-time) work that I could combine with a studio practice, and I’m happy to say that I almost have that degree (a Ba to start with).

Of course college is hard work on its own, and I went a bit nuts from time to time because I couldn’t work in the studio. I wondered why I hadn’t chosen art college instead! So in my 2nd year in college I was able to finish the majority of my Ba courses, and in a wild but equally lucid moment I set out to the Open Day of St Lucas here in Ghent, the only college in Belgium (as far as I know) that offers a glass and ceramics degree. I’m seriously crazy about glass and I live in this city, so why not check it out?

I wandered in just to get some information, maybe talk to the teachers, and check out the studios. I wandered out again with the assignment for the entrance examination and lifted spirits after a wonderful talk with the ceramics teacher, Anne Ausloos. A couple of days later I realized I was actually going to do the entrance examination, and panic set in. (I always panic. I find it reassuring… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) But the examination was almost 2 weeks after my college exams, so nothing would come in the way of my college work. So I thought, why not? If I don’t do this, I will regret it and always wonder what if…

So I did it. Then I got accepted. And I panicked again! ๐Ÿ˜€

That was last summer. So this past school year I’ve been combining both colleges and live to tell the tale… It was crazy as I had foreseen, and I pushed myself a bit too far in the effort but I’m also a bit proud that it worked. At least I think I’d be -I’m still stunned I survived it… I certainly reached my limits in what I can do, so I look forward to trying to simplify my life again. Now I’m working on the last bits of my Ba, and then I’ll evaluate and see how I’m going to plan next (school)year.

So now you know why I dropped off the earth for a bit… Next time I’ll show you some of the glass and ceramics adventures I’ve had, and maybe tell you about this Art Nouveau glass artist I’m researching, Georges Despret. I can’t promise to get into a blogging routine just yet, but I’ll make an effort to post again this month!

What’s in a name?

Big news: I’ve decided to drop artemissne as a name for my creations, and to just use my own. A big step! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Artemissne has kept me company for about 3 years, and was linked with the screen name I had adopted before: missne. Missne was an elfin character from my favorite children’s book by Inger Edelfeldt -mysterious, unknown and perfect for my online life and the rediscovery of my own identity.

logo evolution

So when my creativity started leading its own life, I thought it deserved a name of its own too, a small jump to artemissne. There you had Artemis, missne, and art in it. I liked it.

I designed the logo at that time -a spiral reminding me of my love of fossils and all kinds of stones as a child, natural forms and patterns that still inspire me.

Sometimes you need to take another name to grow into your own. That’s what happened, crazy as it may sound: I’m ready to use my own name for my creations. Call me a late bloomer. ๐Ÿ™‚

So practically that means I’m changing all the artemissne extensions on most websites to kristienberghs, and I apologize beforehand for the bookmark updating troubles. I’ll update with a list on this blog.

Aarghh remains aarghh though, so you don’t have to worry about the mothership. I don’t intend to change the name of my homepage, it has been with me since I first set foot in virtual space in 2001. It refers to a castle in my favorite Monty Python film, and to the various sounds I make when either burning my fingers in the flame, touching hot glass, cutting myself on glass, sanding or sawing or filing off my fingers, nails, nose (1 occasion). That’s what you’ll get from playing with fire! :-p

wabi sabi: inspired by imperfection

This old plate (Boch/Belgium) is my newest find at the ViaVia in Gent. It has two missing stripes…for me, this is how it should be. Not quite finished, but you can imagine how. And worn out by time and use…

How I love this.

Years ago a friend mentioned this was actually the core of Japanese esthetics, which led me to explore the idea of Wabi Sabi (wikipedia).

Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers & Philosophers by Leonard Koren (on amazon)

essential vintage for the warm glass artist

Or: this is how you can make your own frit!

Frit is crushed glass (= lovely picture from combustion glassworks!)that you can use to decorate beads with, or sprinkle on glass pieces to be fired in a kiln (with fusing). It’s a very thankful technique, it gives nice, organic results even without a lot of practise! I had to delve into my archive (it’s an aarghh-ive actually, hehe) to find a good picture with a bead with frit decoration on it. It’s one of my first from 2005, from when I just used a plumber’s torch: effetre transparant pink (“rosaline” I call it) + ivory frit…(on a piece of flat polished rose quartz!) (click to see full size!)

So…what’s with the vintage and how do you make frit?!
It’s so simple. I know you can buy ready made frit and frit melanges, but it’s so much more enjoyable if you make your own AND indulge yourself in some necessary vintage/antique shopping as I did yesterday morning! ๐Ÿ˜‰

You see, the key ingredient of this recipe is an old coffee grinder (1), preferably one with a cat and an umbrella (because that’s just wicked). Of course you need the glass -in this case a piece of effetre transparant cobalt rod (4), but it works with any kind as long as you can make the pieces that go in the grinder small enough -hence the other tools: a rod cutter (3) and a glass nibbling pincher (2) that I normally use for my Tiffany/leaded glass work to get hold of the small bit of glass and to snap it off the rod. Try to cut the pieces as small as you can, under 1 cm length. It’s nearly impossible to snap them off with your bare hands so use the pincher as a lever and protection for your hands!

As for the grinding, it seems to work best if you just put one or two pieces in it, and add bit by bit as you go. Also, look for a coffee grinder that has a closable lid -you don’t want glass fragments flying your way!

The result (5) is what you can see in the plate (note: this has to be vintage too of course… ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) – it’s frit of all sizes, from chunky bits to dust. If you wish you can sift them, or use it as it is!

As for the rest, I’ve been doing all sorts of stuff lately except spending time in front of the torch or in my goldsmithing studio, instead I’ve been doing some necessary reorganizing of my home… It’s funny how one decision –of installing a rocking chair– starts a chain reaction of things that need to be done! And there’s no way to postpone them, it’s so small here that everyting has to fit perfectly. Well, that’s the charm of my tiny cottage…

Right now I’m living with the contents of two book cases piled on the floor so there’s just a path to get from on side of the living room to the other. The big carpet that almost covered 2/3 of my living room before is lying partly folded, in the middle of the “path”. I want it gone, but there’s the small detail of the piano standing on it, way too heavy for me to even move, so I’ll have to ask a professional piano mover to do it…

I hope this can be done before September. I’m starting the goldsmithing course @ Syntra Kortrijk then and I hope to dedicate myself more to my art!

Last school year was pretty hard with my new job (oh, I totally forgot: they found a way for me to stay a couple more months, weeee! ๐Ÿ˜€ ), library school and my new glass studio, redoing my site, opening a web shop, etc… I felt quite scattered at times. There’s so many projects that are still awaiting their creation! I’ve been itching to make bigger pieces again, sculptural or stained glass windows.

Like the mysterious “project 2008” I’ve been hinting of: I first got the idea when I heard about the Canvas Collectie in January, a new national art competition. Had plans for a light object I’d be meaning to create since ages, it seemed, but I quickly realized that that competition wasn’t really a forum for me (my art isn’t exactly provoking or controversial -all I really want is create “a thing of beauty”, and you know your Keats. I’m only a century too late to hop on the Arts & Crafts/Jugendstil/Art Nouveau train, but that’s ok, I’ll find my own way!), and I didn’t have enough time to finish it anyway. So that’s one pile of sketches and a handful of small test thingies in glass and copper.

Then I had the bug for making a new stained glass window for my cottage: again, plans, sketches, colour schemes… and that’s it.

Then another idea, also one that has been simmering in my brain for some years: a stained glass window with which I can combine several glass techniques, both warm and cold… Well, at least that one is under way. Although it will probably take some more months before I can actually start!

Now the last one is the microcosmos glass garden, an idea I really want to elaborate more! I took this picture of the prototype to remind myself to keep working on it -it will probably take me to strange new places, like collaborating with other craftspeople…and who knows what else! LOL.

That aside, I also have a handful of necklaces for the different collections waiting to be finished…

Life as an artist is soooooo hard!


library school made me do it.

disclaimer: no books have been hurt in the making of this post.

wait -no, I lied…

I’ve become a serial book killer!

And the joy it gave me… :-p

Have a look for yourself.
See, I needed gift boxes for the art market I’m participating in in July. And I wanted something special, and totally me.

I had been thinking about it for a bit, and then suddenly it all came together: a friend who showed me how origami boxes were folded, I went through some boxes at the KANTL of books that were up to be dumped, I saved an unused 1956 journal from the dump as well (unrelated to the KANTL though), and I remembered some ancient music scores that I received years ago, as a heritage of an old lady who I’d never known. And when I got busy I added some cheapo Shakespeare edition to the mix! You know, the kind with paper yellowing the day after you bought it, and sloppy prints with words and passages left out or misprinted…I bought it years ago, so proud I had all of Shakespeare in one band….
So I cut all the books open (yay for old bound books & scores, as they are so much easier and neater to “dissect” than those bloody paperbacks!) and glued a merry collage on square newspaper leaves. Then I cut those collages in 4 and started folding them. (Are you tickled? I got my step-by-step video tutorial from here.)

These are a few favorites:

Le Petit Pischna. Believe me, I’m doing pianists all over the world a big favour by (graciously) getting rid of one of his scores. I’ve played it. (though not from this score, the remarks in crayon weren’t for me. For once…)
The scores -in floppy oversized pre-1960 style- proved very easy to fold too, as if the pages had been waiting all this time to become an objet d’art like this… LOL

The 1956 journal. I saved from an old paper dump (I don’t scavenge dumps all that much though, or at all! But it’s just….if I see something that can be re-used I can’t leave it.) I don’t know why it appealed to me this much. But it was totally unused, apart from a few addresses and a calculation of telephone calls in the back. How mysterious! I don’t know who it has belonged to.

The map of Northern/Southern Limburg (Netherlands/Belgium) from a lonesome tome on the 19th century history of the region.

No need to explain that one…

…and this is a close up of the stamp I had made. It’s just so much fun to stamp things! :-p Not even a year working for the government and I’ve already developed a stamp fetish. Oh well… LOL