sunsets & summer trees…

During the week of holidays after my college exams I was able to retreat to the studio for a couple of days, for the first time since September. I guess it’s a good thing the studio is in Ronse and not in Ghent, or I would be there all the time instead of working for school! 😉

As usual, I had many ideas, but I didn’t have all that much time. So instead of rushing to try to realize those ideas, I worked on a couple of pieces that I had started in Feb. 2010, from a batch of glass cabs I had made in the summer of 2009. It was nice to finally get around finishing these! Or at least these three, as I didn’t get to finish  the whole pile…

In other news, you can find them on Etsy!

I called this series essence (on flickr & etsy), because the organic shapes and colors remind me of moments of quietude… Which in these dreary & cold February days mostly means the warmth of summer to me, so here I am again with sunlight and green leaves! 😀 And one starry night too.

sunny green trees brooch
starry night pendant

 
sunset earrings

glass cabs!

The Napjesdrager comes to life

(also on flickr)

Here it is, my Napjesdrager, in a long overdue (and just plain looong) post, from sketch to kiln-formed result! And quite picture-heavy, sorry about that.

Napjesdrager
I worked on this project for about a little more than 3 weeks in August, from sketch to finish although it had been sitting in my head at least since 2003! Ideas have their way with me, not wanting to leave and nagging me until I give in and (try to) realize them…

Back then I didn’t have a clue about lampworking yet. I dreamt of stained glass windows in the style of C. L Tiffany, E. Burne-Jones and M. Chagall, and wondered how awesome it would be to mix the colors on the glass sheets themselves (instead of having to use existing colored and patterned sheets).

I had a 40x40cm transparent Effetre glass sheet that would be my canvas for the Napjesdrager, a face/mask with leaves. I wanted to include murrine and all sorts of lampworked elements like curvy/wavy stringers, marbles and pebbles and later on also stars and buds. As if the murrine were pointilist dots and the stringers the stroke of a brush.

Napjesdrager
Most traditional Green Men have fierce looks with their eyes and mouth wide open but I wanted my spirit to be a serene and contented one. More like a Green Buddha. And at night I had the help from a little moth fluttering all over its face! The book on the right is the “Geïllustreerde Flora van Nederland”.

Napjesdrager
On a walk through the woods nearby (Ronse, where my studio’s at, has lots! What luxury we have there…hiking trails practically starting at our front door!) I gathered leaves from all the napjesdragers I could find, and pressed them.

Napjesdrager
Filled the leaves with water color…

Napjesdrager
And decided to color the alder leaf (on its chin) purple, the same color it had turned after pressing and drying it.

Napjesdrager
I had made a bunch of murrine beforehand and seperated them by color. Each leaf has its own color code, and so began the time consuming work of placing each little bullseye or star design on their leaves. I took care not to place them too close to one another, so they had a bit of space to flow into when they were fused and so they would keep their round(-ish) form.

Napjesdrager
Some lampworked wheels and buds were needed, and of course I managed to drop & break one just before I glued it on. D’oh! You don’t want to know how much I drop and break and lose in the studio (don’t speak me of jumpy silver findings and precious stones! They seem to have plotted against me.). The speckled stone floor (you can see it in some of the photos below) doesn’t help much either. So I swear a lot when I’m in there. That gives some relief. 😉

Napjesdrager
The glue I use is just child-safe craft glue. It burns away in the kiln quite neatly, although there can be some devitrification with the smallest murrine.

napjesdrager WiP
Almost done with the leaves… Only one left to go! The murrine are on the small side, from about 1mm to 6mm diameter. Commercial murrine come typically in fixed sizes, but in pulling my own, my designs benefit more from the organic effect of variable sizes.

napjesdrager WiP
Phew, all done! Finally I could start on its eyes, mouth and stems (from bent and wavy stringers like the one of the left), and glue on the stars and buds.

napjesdrager WiP
Now what would I do with the background? I had pulled these bent stringers in colors I used for the murrine for a groovy 70’s style vortexy thing, but discovered the leaves alone weren’t strong enough to mark the face/mask. I had been rather hasty in designing the panel and had overlooked that tiny detail…oops.

napjesdrager WiP
So I decided to trace its face with cut glass rods. It made him a bit more alien and vaguely Humpty-Dumpty, but hey, I liked it. :-p

I tried out a more wall-papery background, but feared it would draw too much attention away from the fine murrine, so finally I decided on just a few stringers.

napjesdrager WiP
And so it looked before heading off to the kiln… Fusing would change the design profoundly and I was curious to see how the lampworked elements would take it.

And then it came back…

F^$#%§!!!!!

Napjesdrager


 Oh NoooOOOOOOOoooooo my baby it had cracked!!!

Was it compatibility? The heating schedule? Yeah, luckily it was just that. The cracks had happened early in the fusing process, you can tell because the rims of the cracks are rounded and have melted a little. So the temperature had raised too quickly. I had modified the schedule I used for the tiny squares, lowering the heating t° rate a bit (180°C/h) and soaking it longer in the annealing state, but apparently I should have lowered the heating rate drastically at probably 40°C/h.

My mistake.

But that isn’t the end of the story. Yes, I’m an idiot for not checking the heating schedule any better, but overall for a first “big” fusing project it did go pretty well, and I now have a schedule I’m more confident in. It was an experiment, something I made just for me…and secretly I’m relieved it is imperfect now, so I don’t have to sell it and can just keep it with me in the studio. It amuses me how attached I am to my projects! I can’t part with them, although it wanes after a while, when new projects find their way in, but at first…I’m pretty possessive. LOL.

I’m looking if I can design a standard on which the bottom side can be mounted, and the top panels can be hung. Maybe a welded steel construction or so, if I can find someone who can do that.

Poor Napjesdrager…but also: that lopsided eye just gives it more character.  Not just serene, but a tough little bugger it is now! Being cracked and still smiling…

The Effetre sheet played nice (it is said to have compatibility issues and not really fit for kilnwork), all the different lampworked elements worked well and it gave me lots of techniques for future projects: maybe using just those curved and wavy stringers in an Art-Nouveau inspired panel, or a dazzling mosaic-like work with just the cut transparent rods, and of course, lots more projects with  murrine. It’s like pointilism but even better, because I get to design the dots themselves…From far off it’s just a colored form, but you can get closer and closer to discover the details.
On my to-do list for this year (my “good intentions”) is creating letter murrine, so I can add text to the forms as well. So far I’ve made an “A”. Well, it’s a start. :-p

Next post I’m showing you some of the fused details of the Napjesdrager, who I feel is the first in a series of masks and guardians.

De Napjesdrager: inspired by trees

(also check the work-in-progress @ flickr)


Ingredients for a fused glass panel of a face made of leaves:

++ tree leaves drenched in sunlight

Napjesdragers

Napjesdragers

Napjesdragers

Napjesdragers

++ my mother’s well-used and worn 1960 ed. Geïllustreerde flora van Nederland, an extensive field guide to recognizing plants and trees. Her book has dried leaves and strings as bookmarks and when I was young we used it to press leaves and flowers!

Napjesdrager

DBNL has the 2nd edition of 1909 online! The b/w illustrations are the same of the 19th ed. I love those drawings, although they’re very clear, they’re not technically perfect. It makes me yearn for a time without internets and computers and easy digital photography where everyone had to be able to draw to a certain extent…

This edition speaks of the Cupuliferae, de Napjesdragersfamilie. A tree family that included oaks, beeches, chestnuts, birches, hazels and alders. It’s an obsolete term, nowadays this family is split up in Fagaceae (Beech, oak, chestnut) and the Betulaceae (birch, hazel, alder,…). Napjedragersfamilie is still used to describe the Fagaceae and the cups that hold the seeds of these trees, and I fell in love with the word napje. It’s also rather archaic. I remember it mostly from fairy tales and Breughel paintings and the nursery rhyme of the Bibelebontse Berg, where people (and bears) ate from wooden bowls.

++ Tree lore, green men and Tales of the mythic forest

sint-baafabdij

While this fellow is not exactly a green man, heads covered in foliage can be found on medieval cathedrals and churches, much like this Mr. crankyface in the Sint-Baafsabdij in Gent. They’re said to be remnants of pagan, Celtic lore and are among others connected with tale the Robin Hood.

++ gorgeous transparent & translucent glass colors:

pencil box

I took this picture when I started to prepare this project months ago, in the meantime a couple more colors joined the palette, like Vetrofond Tapenade and Cosmic Storm and some ambers and browns.

red + green

The effetre dark and light grass green (I tend to call them glass green 😉 ) are my favorite colors. Just as plain and simple as they are, they remind me of summer and of the sun shining through trees and that just makes me happy. Years ago a friend gave me a gorgeous Henry Dean vase in this color. I also used it a lot on Nur der Mensch:

Nur der Mensch...

So now you know a little bit more… are you ready to meet the Napjesdrager? 😉

#flickr_badge_source_txt {padding:0; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif; color:#666666;} #flickr_badge_icon {display:block !important; margin:0 !important; border: 1px solid rgb(0, 0, 0) !important;} #flickr_icon_td {padding:0 5px 0 0 !important;} .flickr_badge_image {text-align:center !important;} .flickr_badge_image img {border: 1px solid black !important;} #flickr_www {display:block; padding:0 10px 0 10px !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#3993ff !important;} #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:hover, #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:link, #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:active, #flickr_badge_uber_wrapper a:visited {text-decoration:none !important; background:inherit !important;color:#3993ff;} #flickr_badge_wrapper {} #flickr_badge_source {padding:0 !important; font: 11px Arial, Helvetica, Sans serif !important; color:#666666 !important;}

www.flickr.com

http://www.flickr.com/badge_code_v2.gne?count=5&display=random&size=s&layout=h&source=user_set&user=16823618%40N07&set=72157624134139375&context=in%2Fset-72157624134139375%2F

edit: whoops, typo. There’s a beech on the beach. Silly me!

earth & moon

 
This weekend I finished the moon spirit, a sister to the earthy one I created this summer. I’m pleased with with the way she turned out: a silver halo with starry sprinkles (7 of them, not unlike Rossetti’s Blessed Damozel…hehe). 
 
 

The TalentDevelop newsletter just had a piece on muses and creativity, and referred to a page on the history of daimons, genii and muses which fits right in here, with my little girls! 😉

More on Flickr, also some work in progress photos.

of rings, sketches and a zazzle

I’m getting increasingly busy again with the new semester at library school (and a short but exciting internship at the Sint Lucasbibliotheek in Gent! I’ve already raided the glass section…), and as a result my blog and art projects suffer a bit (thank goodness for little sketchbooks that I can carry around everywhere!).

Last week I participated in the Dag van de Ambachten, like last year at the awesome Glassworks studio, and was so busy melting glass and interacting with artists & visitors that I totally forgot taking pictures!

Luckily I can sneak some studio days this week in which I hope to finish some of my current projects before it’s half a year later again. All jewelry: the purple sister to my earth goddess pendant for my dear friend Vocisconnesse, the coral pendant (or brooch?), murrini ring, drop pendant and more which  I’ve baptised the specimen series (the organic shapes go back to my fascination with nature when I was 11-12 and collected treasures in boxes and filled notebooks with my “scientific” observations…back then I wanted to become a paleonto-bio-geologist and took it very seriously, LOL)

Meanwhile I’m also working on my first project in pâte de verre (wikipedia), although it may take until summer before I can start. Well, until then I can do some sketches and make some preparations… Moldmaking being one of them. Oh dear. In April I’m attending a demo of a bronze casting, hoping to get some insight there…

Oh! I almost forgot: people inquired if I made prints from the glass gardens, the fused squares from Nur der Mensch, the glass/copper panel I made last summer. Well, here you go! I opened a Zazzle store which has just that (and mugs!).

The (blank) posters, note- and postcards sell per 1, but the (also blank) “invitation cards” are per 10. I included them because there you have different sizes and paper options (from recycled to pretty linen textured), and you can customize it all. If you have suggestions for prints or items you’d like to see in the store (the dog T-shirt for sure… :-p ), let me know.

Also, any tips on photographing transparent but textured glass panels?

meanwhile, at the studio:

(click for full size)

My creativity is slowly but certainly accelerating to full speed and not a moment too soon, because there’s much work to be done! My little notebook (on the bottom right side) is bursting with scribbles and sketches and the to-do lists I’ve made make me slightly panicky…but I’m equally happy I can finally devote my time to my art, at least for the summer vacation.

The picture shows part of the microcosmos project. I’ve been lampworking some glass test “nods” and making some more green cell murrini that are going to be fused on those glass squares, and I’ve been searching for a neat stencil font for the text on the copper plates. Of course you all know what I’m talking about. 😉 Just bear with me, it will become clear soon…

Also, I’m about 1/4 librarian now. I would be excited if it weren’t for the fact that the certificate we’ll get at the end of the ride isn’t enough to land a job. Due to our silly Belgian education system, adult education and evening classes don’t equal regular education even if it’s the same level. So in fact I should get a bachelor from somewhere else…and while I love studying, I really just want to do the glass (& metal) thing. I feel like I have plenty more to tell in those media and I’m not sure if I can put my creativity on hold for some more years of full time studying…What to do?

Well, to be continued…