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!
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:
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?
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)?
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…
With the wax steamed out, only the glass pins remained embedded in the mould.
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js 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).
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js 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…
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js 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!
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js 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.
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!
I want to find out how the heat of a kiln will calm down these hairs; whether gravity will enable them to relax onto each other. But before that is possible there are a few more steps to go! It will be cast into a mould (or rather, I’ll build a mould around it), the wax will have to melt away so it can be filled with pâte de verre, it will be fired a first time…the mould has to be broken and washed away very carefully and then I will put it back in the kiln, and let gravity do its job… Who knows, in a later stage I can manipulate the slumping fur in the kiln myself.
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.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés. Women who run with the wolves: contacting the power of the wild woman, Random House, London, 1998, p. 267.
A little inspiration: my board Skin, fur and scales shows how other artists and designers explore this theme!
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)
capturing the ceiling painting in a mirror in Palazzo Grimani in Venice
Time to resurface, for a moment. My life continues to be too busy for my own good, but it will get better (hah!). In the meantime, I’ve worked out a way to share my projects, adventures and inspiration with you that doesn’t take up too much time, by posting photos on scheduled posts. That way I can work on a couple of posts when I find time and let them get posted once or twice a week.
It will be mostly from projects from my first year at Sint Lucas, from my tiny Grand Tour to Venice and Paris in September, and some bits and things from my Master in Art Studies (which I’m working on this year). Probably kitties too, as you know I can’t leave them out!
For now: one of the highlights of my holiday was Ritsue Mishima’s exhibition In Grimani. She works with glass blowers on robust vessels and objects, and places them in historical environments like this 17th Century Venetian Palazzo. It was fantastic!