Glass fusing

My sea bowl for pt2, pj1 survived the kiln gods! At last, the great reveal:

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This is the result of my fused glass Sea Bowl workshop. I am really taken by the process and now result! As a method of joining this has been a new and exciting skill to start to learn.

Before processes:

Today I joined another beginner class run by Yvonne, so that I could experiment further with different ways and orders of fusing (joining) the glass.

These have now gone into the kiln.

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I have used stringers, twisted coloured rods, opals and frit as well as tiny beads of dichroic glass and confetti glass. These will all be fused so that I can compare results.

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Yvonne prepared a fantastic set of support notes that includes much of the technical information and websites and videos of interest. However, I feel it would be unfair of me to share these links and resources without undermining the integrity of her workshops. I have included the notes in my sketchbook and any additional resources I find would be, of course mine to share. But, I think it would be wrong to share Yvonne’s material online.

I was intrigued to find that the colour in glass is made from metals and so I have rooted out a secondhand copy of Colour by Victoria Finlay to see whether she discusses this in her (read-a-very-long-time-ago) brilliant book. I am also going to look out for pink and purple glass in stained glass windows as this colour is the most expensive to  make – due to the use of gold!

 

T1: MMT; Pt2; Pj1 completing samples b-f

After the welding I’ve continued to explore heat joining techniques – one reason for this is the advise of my tutor in her last feedback, another reason being curiosity and a third – the instantaneousness of it. Whilst there is control using the heat tool and the duck-billed fitting (I’m sure there’ s a technical name nevertheless…) there is still chance.

Sample b:

Melting the sail cloth bag material and fusing it with plastic bags:

This worked in that there was some effective bubbling and hole making and transformation of surfaces – and the pieces melded together.

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Sample c:

I’d tried melting tulle by ironing it under greaseproof paper and seeing if it would affix to some more samples of oiled paper that I had created this afternoon – but this did nothing other than give a neat iron. Upping the stakes with the heat gun and torn strips of plastic bag:

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The tulle was impacted by the heat gun twisted and tightening then tearing into burn holes, the paper just smoothed, the carrier bag shrunk and distorted but no surfaces melted together – so as a join this was unsuccessful.

I really wanted to join these papers as I had spent time choosing different paper sources and investigated the oiled paper further (again listening to my tutor’s last written feedback).

Sample d:

I considered rolling the plastic bags into balls and heat treating them to see what surface and joins they would make – the process was fascinating to watch as the plastic stretch and shrunk and warped and thickened then thinned under the heat. only the thicker plastic created a better effect, the very thing carriers just shrinking and then hardening. The thicker carriers has a kind of skin-like feel to it – I’m not sure whether I’m really comfortable with that resemblance – one of my best friends at school had an awful childhood accident and was burnt all down her right side – as she grew the burn became more and more taught and the skin stretched painfully – sadly this form is too reminiscent of her wound for me to pursue this sample.

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Sample e:

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I combined all the oiled papers and wondered how they could be join – the oiling affecting the adhesive quality of the surface. Stitching seemed the obvious solution, but rattling around in my head was the angels exhibition in the Lady Chapel of Rochester Cathedral that I saw a fortnight ago. I was thinking about the wired feathers and how they were leaf like, here were leaves of a book that needed joining, perhaps the consideration of phyllotaxis and feathers and leaves could combine into joining with a wired veined structure supporting the paper being sewn to the surface.

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I chose the copper wire I had to hand and instinctively a red thread. The result of this is a very surgical capillary diagram feel. But held up to the light the translucence of the oil-paper created a very pleasing map of traces.

This is an investigation that still holds possible explorations – the wire gauge could be varied, the shape of the paper managed, layers stacked leaf like around a central twist of trunk.

Sample f:

I borrowed a soldering iron. I haven’t a clue what I am doing apart from melting and dripping the solder on the end of what looks like and smells like a burning screwdriver. I did manage to solder some wire that I recycled from inside a twist-tie. This worked fine and I had envisaged that I could melt some more solder and affix it to the paper. I don’t know whether this is normally a no-go or because the paper is oiled it’s a no go, but these delicious mercurial beads of solder ran across the surface like beads of rain. But they were free of the surface and even on drying remained separate to it. Another failed joining. But, not wishing to give up I wracked my brain for ways to fix the solder beads. I considered hairspray – but had none to had. Went back to the fail-safe glue gun and trailed this following the lines of beads like a map.

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I would like somehow to be able to fix the silver wire and beads to the paper without necessitating a further adhesive really. I wonder if the solder would glue to fabric? I wonder if there is silver glue? I liked the beads since they reminded me of the beads of slag at the edge of the welding.

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What am I taking from this?

I am drawn to a contrast of materials. I am drawn to a structural multi-directional surface. I am drawn to a surface that is textured with a network of lines and curves and little beads. I am curious about the interplay of stitch and wire, form and steel, long stitches and knots, traces and structure. It is the tension that these arouse that piques my curiosity.

This all needs to go into a dormant place in my conscious and sift deep down into the subconscious so I can move on to the wrapping which seems to be creeping in surreptitiously on the edges of these latest samples!

 

T1: MMT:Pt 2; Pj1 completing samples a

At the end of this project the course notes advise completing with a series of five or six samples developing what you’ve done so far.

The obvious starting point is ARC WELDING! I could get a little obsessive about this – I want to get better – in the same way I was when I learnt to knit – each time I come to it I can see something new that last time was invisible to me.

After the last samples have been focusing on corners and angles I decided to push this further with welding the steel at all manner or angles, using a combination of flat and cornered steel. Mr Man got me a welder’s helmet that is about as heavy as a baseball hat and that made an immediate impact facilitating easier movement. The welder’s gloves, being man size, are still rather unwieldy and cumbersome but essential. Having left last night’s post saying corners do not have to be perpendicular – well there’s lost of perpendicular and 45 degree joins today!

I am becoming more accomplished at the flat joins, or where I am welding the concave surface of a join. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to welding convex joins and right-angled seams. Nevertheless, in the photos I can now see the blue on the steel that I couldn’t before. This indicates good penetration as the heat has moved this far up in the steel. i can now feel the moment I hit the slag with the chipping hammer whether the weld is a goodun or not. the slag comes of in great flakes where I have been most effective, but powders off in the least successful welds.

Why welding as a development? Because I can introduce considerable scale. I can increase depth, breadth, strength in other words structure, more quickly and solidly. If I’m considering the architectural appeal of textile forms then this gives me some engineering to frame.

I would somehow like to work towards being able to combine glass and steel and crocheted silk – silk being stronger than steel.

I have a lot of learning to do before I reach this. But it’s an idea that continues to germinate.

I want to be able to create textile pieces that are interactive, touchable, in-on-and-through-able! I want surprise and adventure. I want intrigue and play. I do not envisage making works that are so precious they have to be held imprisoned behind glass. Perhaps I might suspend a fragile piece within glass or resin, but I want that to be touchable.

This leaves me with choices: wearable art – fabric design, fashion design, costume design; liveable art – soft furnishing design, wallpaper design; stage designs; then there’s some kind of structural installation…

In the meantime series sample a:

This picture illustrates the blue I was talking about. Also, while I was in my own little world of sparks and melting metals someone came into the yard. When I stopped to check my work he came over and remarked how unusual it was to see a woman welding. I explained I was simply learning and I was told that ‘this bit is very good’. I take that as real praise since: 1) it’s unsolicited from a stranger 2) from a man who looks like he knew welding 3) from a man driving a farm truck 4×4 beast thing – not usually taken to effusions of praise.

Therefore, I give you my first public exhibit:

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Oh the fame and the glory – best not let it go to my head!

(And I am not so secretly in love with all the photo reveals as visual food – bubbles, ripples, iridescence, scratch lines, pooling, shine and shadow).

The following boards hopefully show the range of angles and corners that I have been creating as well as the way I have pieced them together into a single structure – since there is no way this piece is ever going to be posted!! The photos show the good and the bad, the successful and still someway off – but all of these have a visual appeal when I look at these as raw visual material rather than simply viewing in terms of a slowly improving process and technique.

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I have videoed the piece to give a 360 degree view – but it needs improving as it made me feel seasick! When the piece has cooled I can collect it from the workshop and put some time and calm into making a better clip.

Next time I’d like to have a go a welding curved pieces and rods. Not sure whether there’s any of those hanging around spare but I’ll get on the lookout…

 

T1: MMT; Pt2: Pj1; ex 5 ii

Sample 4

This is a failed sample. The concept intrigues me, but the sample has failed to materialise.

I was worrying about ‘corners’ and ‘angles’. I know mathematically that an angle is a turn. I looked up in my faithful dictionary the definition of a corner, and then its etymology. It comes from the Latin that means ‘horn’. This then sent me off on a concept and ideas blitz:

 

For my sample I wanted to form a horn but it has ended up creating a form that has caused much mirth in this house for its non-intended phallic resemblance. Cover your eyes if you’re bashful. I have tried twisting it to make a more curved horn which has invited winces of pain sound effects. However, this game is about sharing successes and failures. I had not intended to create a phallic form. I had intended to create a form that re-materialised the origin of the word ‘corner’ and played on the sayings ‘stuck in a corner’.

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Even though the sample is hysterical and not working on so many levels, the unearthed etymology still holds my interest:

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I am yearning for the holiday, for completing sample 5 and developing the scale of this project and the weight of this project through welding steel and combining non-traditional materials.

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to Art.

Charlie Parker

T1: MMT; Pt2; Pj1: Ex5

Forming corners and angles

I’ve been playing this exercise over and over in my brain since very early on. I don’t know why this intrigues me.

Tonight, I wanted to start with some large scale drawing of sample from ex 4 – namely the stone sample. Taking a 1.5″ brush, some pink acrylic and a biro and then a very fine paintbrush I got stuck in. Working at A2 size:

I have noticed that I seem to be attracted to a wiry line that connects washes of space/colour/material.

Taking this further I wanted to push the painting and gesture of this sample, rather than be taken simply by the line, so I grabbed to large brush again and some blue-black ink:

The close-ups show the movement that seemed of most interest to me. I am pleased with how the brush whispers out the line and offers definition without division.

A wash of pink acrylic, then wet on wet ink:

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As this piece dries the process of chromatography has started. Whilst I cannot hold the wet, the photos allow me to. I added drips and flicks to recall the sea, the perforations in the chalk and the impact of water on chalk – eroding the holes that make those hag’s eyes.

After this I felt ready to make some sample for the new exercise.

Sample 1:

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Cardboard packaging joined to pretend leather, both surfaces hole punched (I am pleased with the way the punch-outs on the ‘leather’ are left stringed and hanging). I laced them together with the craft wire. I have been considering this join in my head for a while. Creating a corner by joining the opposite side so the corner, the join, the seam is made opposite from where the join occurs. The wire offers solidity, and is a simple stitch. The two materials take their own angle and find a compatible resting point.

Sample 2

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To contrast I made some felt using the plastic bag, soap and hot water method: intense rubbing, then rinsing in cold water. This made the base fabric. I have been thinking about piping as a method of joining. I’m not quite sure whether I’m creating corners. should I have three surfaces that meet at a point rather than 2? I think to me the corners are the edges of the joins. I was satisfied that the piping (twisted raffia needle felted into a seam) maintained the angle allowing for some cornering – then again is a corner a turn? Am I meeting this exercise or mis-interpreting it?

With this worry in mind I moved on to sample 3.

Sample 3:

I chose to work with accessible metal: bottle tops, and worked on creating corners with rounded pieces – aiming to join three surfaces. I then played at considerable length with all the possible arrangements this simple trio in repeat could create. There was a ladder feel, a spinal feel, a sculptural balancing effect. Different angles and shapes were created by different rotations of the base form.

Finally, I felt the spinal construction held most interest. I went back to use the craft wire as my sewing thread. Remembering the notes said not to be afraid of using gluing as a joining device, I put on the glue gun and drizzled glue liberally over the piece. This was a satisfying process and has created a cocoon-like, web-like sample. i can imagine this piece extending in every which direction:

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I find the contrast between shiny metal, smooth metal, toothed metal, coloured bent wire and globulous glue quite intriguing and full of potential. I love how the heat gun has some control but a lot is left to accident.

I’m itching to weld some corners, but the day job interferes…

T1: MMT; pt 2; Pj1: ex 4 iv

Last 3 samples.

Sample 3:

Tulle, plastic, triangular bandage material off-cut and brass paper fasteners. Seen a lot of rivets as a fastening and joining devise. This weekend I’ve been at the sea looking at the layers of seaweed and sea and flotsam  and jetsam. This inspired the above.

Sample 4:

Hag stones found on Ramsgate beach today. If you look through the holes you can see your soul or your future. These hag stones each had two holes like eyeholes, this is the sea acting on the local chalk, and found different sizes. Assembled in size order and used craft wire to join, wrapping round a biro to create springs to separate layers, though also to join them so they overlap.

Sample 5:

Using wrinkled and crumpled papers from the previous part, the craft wire from the previous sample and a conical form around which I could join the layers with a spiral.

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea.

Isak Dinesen