Monday, September 14, 2015

Canberra Glassworks

After much procrastination I finally went to visit the Canberra Glassworks and Old Bus Depot markets in Kingston, ACT. A big day out as it took me an hour to get out of central Canberra - no signs to anywhere but ACT suburbs and so did the loop a few times.

Canberra Glassworks is well worth the visit. The 'Engine Room', hotshop and artist's benches are 'open' to the public and seeing artists at work is always good. Here it is so much better than Murano in Venice. Highlights were talking with Matthew Curtis and saying 'hello' to Klaus Moje!!

The current exhibition is 'The Distant Warriors "Ka maumahara" (we will remember). Let us not be forgotten.' featuring glass and textiles inspired by the stories of indigenous and Maori soldiers. The artists are all indigenous or Maori and the glass poles or columns shown above were the best pieces.

The second from left column is by Jennie Kemarre Martinello who is a very talented and successful textile/print/glass artist. Her main works are dill bags or fish traps made from glass murrini. Very delicate and quite beautiful. I bought a paperweight that she makes from left over murrini.



I also bought a medium sized plate by Kate Baker (a favourite of mine) that has a screen printed image on clear. She uses a lot of images and text and almost always screen prints on to the glass.
She does teach at her studio in Surry Hills (?) but her courses are expensive for what is after all a $60 plate. If she ever teaches printmaking techniques though I would willingly spend the money.


Oh and the Bus Depot Markets....okay but nothing special or different. It was quite busy though so may be worth applying to have a stall one Sunday a month. Watch this space!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Desk Screen

One man's trash is another man's treasure - I found this screen designed for photographs and made some panels out of Spectrum 96 (7 large and 4 small rectangles). Fully open it measures 60 x 45 centimetres and looks spectacular with light flooding through. A piece of contemporary stained glass.

Perfect for someone's desk and hopefully it will sell at the Rose Bay Fair in October.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Shoalhaven Quartet

Inspired by Arthur Boyd and his Shaolhaven River series I used my first vitrigraph pieces to make four "Shoalhaven" plates......If only I could get the Bundanon Trust to put them in the Homestead shop!? I will enter them in the Divine Glass calendar competition though later this month.

Boyd - ShoalhavenQuartet

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Glass 3D Printer

I thought originally that this was a spoof or April Fool's Day hoax but it seems to be real! Very cool!!

"How hot does your 3D printer’s hot end get? Most low cost printers heat up to 240°C (464°F) at the most because they contain PEEK which starts to get soft if you go much higher. Even a metal hot end with active cooling usually won’t go much higher than 400°C (752°F). Pretty hot, right? MIT's new G3DP printer goes to 1900°F (over 1000°C) and prints optically clear glass.

By changing design and print parameters, G3DP can limit or control light transmission, reflection and refraction. The printer uses a dual heated chamber. The upper chamber acts as a 1900°F kiln while the lower chamber serves to anneal the structures. The print head is an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle.

There’s a patent filed on the process, apparently, and you can read the technical details in this thesis 

and in some upcoming publications"

Apparently you could use Spectrum 96 or Bullseye 90 nuggets as the glass source so maybe one day....when the G3DP printer is less than $10,000!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ted Sawyer

The Bullseye Resource Center (sic) recently published a video showing how Ted Sawyer produces his ethereal glass panels. I do like Sawyer’s work so thought I would see whether it was possible to reproduce.

Sawyer’s technique is essentially to sift layers of transparent glass powder onto clear sheets of glass and manipulate the powder with water, Glastac and clay modeling tools. He uses a lot of powder, a lot of layers and works on both sides of large 1m square panels so they need to be fused twice.

My first attempts were more modest – four colours on one side of 18cm square glass. My thinking was that if they did not work as panels I could slump them to make sushi plates. Two panels were disappointing and the other two (beach and nebula below) I framed in box frames with two cut mounts rather than a backing board. This means they can sit with a window or light source behind to show off the layers and texture.

The idea behind the technique is to create abstract patterns not only of colour but also of texture and transparency. There is nothing particularly hard about the techniques but it is the visualization of the finished effect that sets Sawyer apart.

The most fun was dropping water from a height onto the powder to produce craters that were then filled with another colour. I have to say that if that was the highlight then I wont be producing many more!

The other ‘problem’ is the long fusing schedule – almost 24 hours. Admittedly the schedule is recommended for a 1m square sheet but with a highest temperature of 693°C it is somewhat short of a full fuse. This means that some of the texture is preserved but because the powder does not fully fuse some of the transparency itself is lost.

I know that I am not as gifted as Ted Sawyer but I would rather run a kiln full of pattern bars or work 6 layers deep if it is going to take 24 hours.

Vitrigraph - Fun with Molten Glass

I added a Skutt Firebox kiln to my studio a while ago for hot combing and vitrigraphy but have only recently found a suitable stand for the latter. I had thought of using two tables and some concrete blocks to raise the kiln up but it was never going to work in my studio (ie the laundry!!)

Finally I bought a set of stainless steel shelves from Brayco. The uprights are 1.8m and the kiln sits on a shelf 1m above the ground. The central section of the shelf is cut out to allow the glass to fall onto a second shelf holding a stainless steel bowl.

The kiln base is removed and placed on a piece of 2.5cm fibre board with a 2cm hole cut in the middle. The scrap glass is cut into 2cm squares and put in a 15cm terracotta pot (the expensive Italian one) and the pot is put on two mullite strips to raise it off the fibre board. For the first run I did not enlarge the (drainage) hole in the pot but it might be worthwhile for the future.

I chose to use an ultra conservative firing schedule – 

1 hour to 320°C

4 hours to 740°C

1 hour to 1040°C at which point glass began to flow.

The Firebox doesn’t have a programmable controller and the ‘heat’ switch is described as ‘infinite’. That means at setting 1 ½ the element heats at about 180°C per hour and 300°C at setting 4. The switch design means a lot of trial and error and I figured I would rather go slow and steady to avoid stressing the terracotta pot more so than the glass.

Recommended schedule is 250°C per hour to 940°C (about 3 ¾ hours). The thermocouple pyrometer though is reading from close to an element and the glass in the terracotta pot is insulated. Next time I will try to try 250°C per hour for 4 hours and see what happens.

When the temperature reaches 940°C the glass is molten and starts to flow through the pot’s hole. The temperature has to be raised and lowered to get the glass streamers to thicken and thin. I used some steel salad servers to manipulate the streamers and scissors to cut the flow. The streamers fall into the steel bowl filled half full with vermiculite. The streamers don’t need to anneal but the vermiculite gives some insulation to slow the cooling somewhat.

The great things about a vitrigraph kiln are that you can make customized elements for use in other work and use up scrap glass in any colour combination you like. I used Spectrum 96 white, cream, grey and pink as I wanted to produce elements that resemble ghost gum bark. It is also a way of using a kiln to replicate what is usually done in a hot glass studio so you can produce rods, stringers and murrini rods.

So, all in all a great trial run and I will definitely be doing it again.

One technique for the future would be to let the molten glass to flow straight into a steel bucket of cool water. The glass should fracture from heat shock and create customized colour combination frits.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Schiele's Portrait of Anton Peschka

Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918, Vienna) was a master of figural distortion and boldly defied what conventional views were of beauty. He was the leader of the Austrian Expressionists and his portraits are quite extraordinary – laying bare his own and his sitters’ psyches and showing unprecedented sexual and emotional directness.

He was prolific during his short and notorious life that was often scandalous even by today’s standards. He produced over 3,000 drawings and was a fabulous draughtsman. His primary influence was Gustav Klimt (he will be an artist I will revisit later in the year) who also acted as friend and mentor. Klimt was exotic and colourful in his art; Schiele used a limited palette and a graphic (design) style well ahead of his time.

Schiele died in 1918, not in the war but from the Spanish Flu epidemic that claimed his wife three days before his own death (and 20 million lives overall in Europe). Schiele produced half a dozen drawings of his wife after she, and before he, died.

The work I have tried to interpret is “The Portrait of Anton Peschka” (shown above) – a beautiful portrait and easily mistaken for a Klimt. Anton Peschka (1885 – 1940, Vienna) was a friend of Schiele’s and married his sister Gertrude. He exhibited regularly from 1906 to 1935. I love the muted pinks and grey palette and the Art Nouveau details on the chair. I hope I have done the work some justice and have used iridescent silver-grey glass for the background and chair. and a (very expensive piece of) neo-lavender for his coat. My piece is shown below and measures 20 x 29 cm unframed. It is much closer in tones than this awful photo shows!