Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Native Flora - Bottlebrush

Callistemon citrinus - Bottlebrush

The first trial plates of a series depicting Australian native flora. The Bottlebrush seemed an ideal flower spike to start with. It is a very common natural and garden plant on the east coast and the nectar attracts birds and bees. Often see it on the freeway used as a hardy screening plant.

Simple clear on white Spectrum 96 glass with the stem and petals drawn on with Glassline paints.
A good size plate at 310 x 185 mm and good value at $100 plus GST and shipping.

Check it out at http://www.savitrineglassworks.com.au/shop/index.php?rt=product/category&path=1

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sad and Sorry......

Not a very happy sight...the sustained high temperatures making BioGlass caused one of the heating elements to burn out and crack the kiln roof. Now it is all hanging down and even though the side elements still work it cannot be used until Frank comes back.

I have been really happy with Woodrow Kilns where I bought the kiln 7 years ago. They are sensible, attentive and responsive. So we are going to replace the element and pin the roof up so that it all works again without a complete roof rebuild.

Good chance to refine the schedules to reduce strains and get some ceramic pieces that have been lying about the studio finally fired.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy Accident or Happy Idiot?

Volcanic sculptures? Petrified wood? I could go on but am trying to be polite....

Sunday, September 21, 2014

BioGlass - 45S5

From time to time I get calls from people who want help or advice about glass. Recently I helped a COFA student realise some pieces for her Honours submission and it was interesting to see someone listen to good advice and then go her own way....

This past week I have been more fulfilled helping Dr Philip Boughton and his Biomedical Engineering team at the Sydney University School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering. Wow!!

They needed someone to make BioGlass 45S5 because they could not use the facilities at the university, or rather there was too much bureaucracy involved. I suspect OH&S and costs were the problems.

Philip came round and dropped off the $16,000 Platinum crucible, some pellets of the material (45% SiO2, 24.5% NaO2, 24.5% CaO and 6% P2O5) and a firing schedule (3 hours to 900 degrees C, 2 hours to 1250, hold for 3 hours and kiln off). With only one crucible this is not the most cost effective method so for the fourth firing I tried ceramic fibre dams and a ceramic mould.

I thought it might not work with the moulds and I was right - they collapsed into a porcelain like form and the glass fused into the mould. The ceramic fibre held up but the glass leaked out and fused to the kiln shelf through the ceramic fibre base. Not so good but worse still a third of the kiln's heating elements no longer work. All in all a good experiment but  with disastrous results!!

Now I need a kiln service technician to fix the roof elements and we must think of where we can source some ceramic crucibles that will withstand the high temperatures. I did fire glass last night using the side elements only so can still keep production going for my sales and commissions.

The Three Graces - Part 2

 Some more images of the Three Graces panels before framing. The green and yellow slabs are closest to the effect I was looking for with subtle colours and a strong line. The blue slab is too strong a colour and photographs worse than it really is.

The last image shows all three side by side. I just hope someone at Rose Bay markets wants a unique sculptural piece for their home.

The Three Graces - Part 1

Working deep again on three 250 x 190 x 21 mm panels. The finished slab is shown above and two of the pieces in the kiln before firing are below. There are 8 layers of Spectrum glass in each piece and are dammed with ceramic fibre board and the kiln posts are there to restrict movement as the glass softens.

The plan is to have the three slabs framed as a triptych almost like an altarpiece. The nudes are based on some drawings by Auguste Rodin and Bella Pieroni but much simplified. The drawing is made with Glassline paint on the uppermost glass and therefore there are fewer air bubbles. Hopefully it will make a strong impression when framed and with the light from in front creating depth and a silhouette.


"Sittin' at home last Sunday mornin' me mate Boomer rang
Said he was havin' a few people around for a barbie,
Said he might Kookaburra or two.
I said, "Sounds great, will Wallaby there?"
He said "Yeah and Vegemite come too".
So I said to the wife "Do you wanna Go, anna?".
She said "I'll go if Dingos".
So I said "Wattle we do about Nulla?"
He said "Nullabors me to tears, leave him at home."
We got to the party about two and walked straight out the kitchen to put some booze in the fridge. And you wouldn't believe it, there's Boomer's wife Warra sittin' there tryin' to Platypus!
Now, I don't like to speak Illawarra, but I was shocked, I mean how much can a Koala bear.
So I grabbed a beer, flashed me Wangarratta and went out and joined the party.
Pretty soon Ayers Rocks in and things really started jumpin'.
This Indian girl, Marsu, turns up, dying to go to the toilet but she couldn't find it.
I said to me mate Al, "Hey, where can Marsupial?"
He said "She can go outback with the fellas, she's probably seen a cockatoo".
Well just then Warra comes out of the kitchen with a few drinks for everybody.
Fairdinkum, you've never seen a Coolabah maid. I grabbed a beer and said, "Thanks Warra - tah".
A couple of Queensland at the party, one smellin' pretty strongly of aftershave. One of 'em sat down next to me and I turned to him and I said, "Ya know mate, Eureka Stockade!"
It was a really hot day; Oscar felt like a swim. He said to Ina, "Do you want a have a dip in the Riverina?" She said "I haven't got my Kosiosko".
Well Bo says, "Come in starkers, Wattle they care!" Ina says "What, without so much as a Thredbo?" Ah, Perisher thought! Has Eucumbine in yet?
Well a few of the blokes decided to play some cricket.
Boomer says "Why doesn't Wombat?" "Yeah, and let Tenterfield".
He said I should have a bowl but I was too out of it to play cricket so I suggested a game of cards. I said to Lyptus "Wanna game of Eucalyptus?" He said "There's no point mate, Darwins everytime."
Well Bill said he'd like a smoke. Nobody knew where the dope was stashed. I said "I think Merinos." But I was just spinning a bit of a yarn. Barry pulls a joint out of his pocket. Bill says "Great, Barrier Reefer, what is it mate?" "Noosa Heads of course. Me mate Adelaide 'em on me." And it was a great joint too, Blue Mountains away and his Three Sisters
Well I thought I'd roll one meself, I said "Chuck us the Tally Hobart". He said "They're out on the Laun, Ceston, can you get em for us?" Burnie says "Its okay mate, she's apples, I'll get em for ya"
Just then Alice Springs into action, starts to pack Billabong. And you wouldn't believe it, the bongs broken. I said "Lord Howe!"
"Hay-man" somebody says "Will a Didgeridoo?" I said "Hummmmm mummmm mummmmm mummmmm maybe it'll have to."
I look in the corner and there's Bass sitting there, not getting into it, not getting out of it, I said "What, is Bass Strait or something?" Boomer says "As a matter a fact mate, he's a cop" I said "Ya jokin' mate, a cop, I'm getting outta here, lets Goanna." She said "No way, I'm hangin round till Gum leaves. Besides, I dont wanna leave Jacardanda party on his own. Have you seen him? I think he's trying to crack on Toowoomba, he's already tried to Mount Isa And he'll definitely try to lead you Australiana!"
Austen Tayshus

The number one single in 1983......Crikey!!


“Kilncarving is a term coined at Bullseye to describe a simple kilnforming process that achieves a bas relief, textured, or sculpted look in glass. The process involves cutting a pattern or design in ceramic fiber paper, then stacking glass on top of the pattern and firing the piece in a kiln. During firing, the underside of the glass conforms to the ceramic fiber paper pattern, assuming its contours and textures. Kilncarving is a good beginning technique" - from bullseyeglass.com

It really is a simple technique but has great possibilities for homeware - the plate above has 'fromage' embossed to surface - and more artistic pieces. I have been playing with the contour function in Adobe Photoshop and converting images into contour maps. Thought some portraits might be interesting and will layer ceramic fibre to build up the facial features. If it works I'll post some pictures. For now I'll produce a range of plates for people wanting something special for their barbeques and dinner parties.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Jade Oakley Mobiles

Jade Oakley graduated top of her HSC year and in Fine Art from COFA in 1997. Her paper sculpture mobiles are unique, interesting, beautiful and shown at Australian Galleries in Sydney and Melbourne. They are in collections all over the world and it was a great privilege and learning experience to help a practising artist with a project. Getting an understanding of how Jade gets from concept to sculpture was fascinating.

Jade normally works with paper creating intricate mobiles that are reminiscent of chandeliers. She wanted to experiment with glass and these are the first results. The hooks are fired into the glass and the armatures and rock stand added later.

Sadly she did not persevere with producing larger works and it's a shame because they are really good. With some iridescent glass the mobile sparkles in the light as the wind catches the shapes. If only I had thought of it!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

People are like stained glass windows...the Nude Back

"People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within"
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Recently I have been experimenting with what Bullseye call ' working deep' - that is layers of glass fused on a long cycle that create more depth to the piece. This nude back is made from 8 layers of 250 x 250 mm clear glass so ends up about 210 mm thick and takes 36 hours in the kiln to allow for annealing and less chance of thermal shock. 

The nude is drawn using a metal tip and Glassline paint - almost the same process as etching a print plate. Some powdered glass is also used to give some subtle colour blocks. The air bubbles are almost inevitable in a piece this size and thickness and I have not tried to eliminate them. To do so would mean a much longer hold at the top temperature.

The glass block is framed so it can be hung on a wall, or rather just off the wall as the idea is that the light shines through and the silhouette  appears on the wall behind (see above). It is heavy but the extra care in hanging is worth the effort for the effect of a very simple stained glass window.

Coasters aplenty

There is always a dilemma between producing pieces that sell and pieces that are more interesting to make but have limited appeal. Whenever I have a market stall day coming up I make coasters and plates. Coasters are simple to make and I can fit about 20 at a time in my kiln. The challenge is to make them more interesting. The coffee ring coasters above are a new line using Spectrum glass and Glassline paints. The paint is printed on to the glass and means the stain stays on the glass not on your table.

These are simple strip coasters made from left over glass. They are available at Gallery on Track, Blackshaw Road, Goulburn.

Using Negative Space - Segment Slabs

Well this is a slab of glass!! About 12 mm thick and 310 x 185 mm in size. It's not a complicated process but it is time consuming and needs three kiln firings and a glass saw so the final piece isn't cheap.

It's another Bullseye Glass technique which they have called a Segment Slab, a variation on the pattern bar technique. The segment slab is composed of sheet glass strips that are tack-fused together, cut into cubes, arranged with space between them and fired within a containment system until the glass flows and forms an internal pattern.

The key to the technique is arranging the cubes of tack fused glass within the stainless steel ring mould to take advantage of the fact that glass melts, flows and 'wants' to be flat. You can see in the bottom left how the five cubes have flowed into each other (the middle cube was placed rotated 90 degrees to the four surrounding it.

It's a cool technique but better suited to a commission statement piece than one offs because the price of the above plate is $200. Not high if you say it quickly!!

Venice - Piazza San Marco

Yes it's a glass plate showing the piazza San Marco in Venice. The terracotta 'bar' is the campanile (bell tower) and the San Marco church is in the centre.

It was done using sgraffito - scratching out the buildings from a thickish layer of Glassline paint and powders. Happy with this first attempt and will do more.

Pattern Bar Plates for Rose Bay

I will be at Rose Bay Markets in late October so needed to get some stock made for the occasion. Last year I made a load of Chrismas decorations (trees, baubles and snowflakes) but this year I can't get excited about Christmas in October!

The pattern bars were made with Patty Gray a while ago and these six are the last of this pattern. Almost tiger like and the duck egg blue works well. I have dozens of pattern bars in the studio and will incorporate them into plates in the coming weeks. I am thinking of only displaying a limited range of techniques, colours and 'look' at Rose Bay rather than trying to be all things to all people.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wagner's Tomcat, Satie's Gymnopedies

"I love Wagner, but the music I prefer is that of a cat hung up by its tail outside a window and trying to stick to the panes of glass with its claws"
Charles Baudelaire

Well I haven't tried Wagner nor Baudelaire to inspire me when designing a plate but I have tried Erik Satie. There is something about Gymnopedies' tempo that lends itself to splashing coloured frit onto stringer staves! 

It does not seem to work with rock, country or pop but classical, jazz and even techcno are great inspiration. Perhaps I should plan one a week for a year and see what happens - a musical show in late 2015??

Hot Combing

Hot combing is one of the few techniques in warm glass (kiln fusing) that is similar to hot glass (furnace blowing). It's quite an exciting way to manipulate glass but you need to have the right equipment, clothing and courage to take it on.

Strips of glass are arranged vertically and dammed with ceramic fibre. Tight lines and limited colour palettes work best to get the patterns and 'look'. The glass is heated to about 900 degrees Centigrade at which point it has the consistency of toffee. The kiln has to be turned off to eliminate the possibility of electrocution! Metal combing rods are used to pull through and push apart the glass strips. You have to be quick because as the glass cools it stiffens. After the first combing the kiln goes back on to 900 degrees and then the kiln off and combing process can be repeated. Once the pattern is as you want it then the kiln is taken back up to 900 and held until the glass surface is flat. Then flash cool to 590 and start the annealing process - 6 hours at least and then turn the kiln off and leave to reach room temperature.

You really do need welder's smock, gloves and helmet/glasses and make sure not to wear artificial or synthetic fibres. It's hot and not for the faint hearted!! It's worth the abandonment of OH&S rules though to get the finished product which can be used as a centrepiece in other pieces.

Bluegrass Panel

Trying out a few different techniques to make panels that can be incorporated into new pieces. I can hot comb in my small Skutt Firebox kiln but I am still trying to figure out the manual controller, particularly for the annealing schedule periods.

The Bluegrass panel central panel was made using powders sifted into a clear glass box. An easy technique but a little time consuming. The finished panel will become a pot trivet when framed up.