the glass fur project: untangling very carefully

glass fur

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
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.

glass fur
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!

glass fur
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…

glass fur
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.

glass fur
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.

To be continued!

the glass fur project

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).

fur
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.

fur
I love how the surface seems to be dissolving when see through this mass of stringers!

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
fur (featuring Assepoes)
a little detail of Assepoes’s nose, showing how her fur “flows” in several directions.

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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!

the kick wheel

potter's wheel

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
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!

kickwheel

//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js first attempts on the kickwheel - timelapse//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Touareg silver smithing techniques

workshop zilversmeden

So this is what I did in the Easter holiday…instead of studying for college! Mais je ne regrette rien. I still have plenty of time to panic for the exams. 😉

As a part of a late Christmas/Birthday present Mom gave me this course from Iron & fire: 5 days of traditional techniques by Sidi Hamed, Touareg silversmith from Niger (but living in Belgium). It was awesome.

workshop zilversmeden

It was an introductory course in which we’d see basic techniques, but at the end we had seen and practised forging, stamping and engraving and Sidi demonstrated the lost wax process.

So…Here are a few impressions.

workshop zilversmeden
The set-up:
our sandbox 😀  coal, bellows, some bricks as worktables,
little clay cups for melting silver, a long “gutter” to pour the molten silver in

We started the first day with this ring exercise:

workshop zilversmeden
bottom: the silver bit we started out with
middle: along the process of hammering, hammering, hammering…
top: Sidi’s model of a stamped an polished ring

I don’t have many photos of my own projects -the bracelet and the pendant- because I was mainly working myself! But here is a series of photos of Sidi’s lost wax casting demonstration of a Touareg cross:

workshop zilversmeden
each tribe of the nomadic Touareg has their own cross
-from this inspiring book: Fastueuse Afrique by A. Fisher-

workshop zilversmeden
wax model

workshop zilversmeden
the wax model encapsuled in a clay mould

workshop zilversmeden
when the clay mould had dried it was fired…

workshop zilversmeden
…and the melting wax dripped away!

workshop zilversmeden
pouring molten silver into the mould…

workshop zilversmeden
…there. All done!

workshop zilversmeden
after the mould had cooled and was removed, this was the result in silver;
a base form that with lots of hammering, filing, stamping and engraving
would look as intricate as one of the crosses from the book!

I’m so glad I’ve been able to do this course -Sidi was a patient teacher (with 7 women to coach, no small feat! 😀 ) and I’ve learned a lot from him. I’ve tried engraving for the first time, and different forging techniques. It was complementary to the jeweler’s training I’ve received at Syntra and it taught me a lot of respect for artists like Sidi who creates such fine jewelry with just a very basic setup. Now I want a sand box to continue playing! 😉

workshop zilversmeden
I added the chain of “sticks” afterwards in the studio.
So much work has gone in this pendant, forming it by hammering
-lots of it-
filing, polishing
and then engraving…
I love the result. A wonderful memory!

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!

summer pendants & autumn plans

Well, I’m home again after spending some time in the studio in August-September. It was much needed, and awesome. And as always, way too short. I could easily do with a month or so more studio time, just to finish what I’ve started…

But time’s up and I have to keep my creative self in check… School is starting again next week and there will be no time for doodling. I can’t believe I’m going back to college! (yes, again…) The time is finally here, and I’m giddy. 😀

And to celebrate, I’m doing a workshop in October with the talented Lotte De Mey on stone setting! Check out her unique pieces on Penelope’s Verbs and her paintings (this is her portfolio). I adore her work and I’m really looking forward to the workshop!

And now for some pictures: this is what happened in the studio this summer!

A green goddess talisman:

green goddess

Pebbles:

3 pendants

A delicate balance in pendants  & earrings:

a delicate balance

a delicate balance

a delicate balance

…Do you remember this ring?

growing ring

It has been sprouting crystals lately:

tube ring

…and something else all together, can you guess what this is?!

can you guess? :-D

tube ring

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.