Friday 24 May 2024

Reactive Glass Jewellery


Can you guess where I’ve been this week?

Yep, back to West Dean.  This week if was for Reactive Glass Jewellery.


It kicked off on Monday evening where the class met up for dinner, then into the classroom for our first session.


Claire our tutor is a very talented glass fusing artist and she was very friendly and  knowledgeable and was happy to answer all our questions as she overwhelmed us with information.


The course was all about fusing glass and the wonderful reactions you can create when mixing certain glasses and metals together.  In this case silver foil.  The idea being that you can then make these pieces of glass into pieces of jewellery.


On Monday evening I started by making a square tile with a piece of French vanilla glass, scraps of silver foil, and a pinch of glass powder with a piece of clear glass to cap it all off.  Everyone made their own versions then everything went into the kiln. Then we either went home or most of the rest of the class went to the bar!


The next day we started to learn more about the possible reactions and other techniques we could use.  We spent the morning working on more glass creations to fuse.  Then at lunch time we could finally open the massive kiln and see our work from yesterday.  I was very pleased with how mine came out – the vanilla had reacted to the silver creating a dark line round it and there were tendrils of brown showing where the fumes from the reaction had tired to escape.  (see the first image)


 Now we had a piece of glass we could practice our cold working techniques on, grinding and polishing and eventually putting it back in the kiln for a fire polish. 


On our last day we could create more things for the kiln if we wished, but I didn’t want to leave anything behind, so I just focused on my cold working.  This time using a tile saw to cut some of my tiles of glass up, then drilling a hole in one piece!



Once again we had to wait until lunch time before we could open the big kiln.  I was delighted with my work.  I'd had no real idea what might come out of it.  Just because I followed a 'recipe' doesn't mean it would come out the same.  It definitely made me want to do more.


Claire also had some silver findings for us to purchase to finish our pieces off.


This was such a great course and added so much to my glass knowledge.  I’ve now got to build up the courage to try and reset my kiln so I can try fusing at home.  I’ve got lots of broken bits of glass which could make good/interesting cabochons.


There are also a few pieces from the course that I'd like to do more cold work on and then fire polish to finish.  Glass continues to amaze and fascinate me.  


Monday 6 May 2024

The Next Step

 Anyone who looks at this blog will see that I’ve been making stuff for a long time.  And it goes back much further than when I started to blog in 2008.  I’ve been making for as long as I can remember.

I’ve tried a lot of things, and have favorites that I keep going back to.  And because I’m making so much, I find that I can try my hand at most things and end up with a reasonable end result, much to the amazement/annoyance of other people.



But I’ve ended up feeling like a jack-of-all-trades while not being a master of any.


So I’ve talked to a bunch of creative people and done a lot of thinking over the past couple of months about what and if I want to do anything about this.


Apparently to become really good at something you need to spend at least 10,000 hours doing it. And I can see that in my knitting.  I’ve been knitting since Dec 2013 And I’ve come a long way since that first hat.  Now I’m making jumpers and cardigans that I’m very happy to wear in public, and I’ve even had people ask me where I bought them! 



But I have spent hours working on this skill and I'm still nowhere near that 10,000.  Quite often I use the last hour of my day, sat on the sofa with ‘im outdoors, knitting.  Let’s say that’s 5 hours a week, that time quickly builds up but it will still take about 35 years before I hit 10,000 hours!


On the other hand there is my glass work, something that I’ve only really been doing for a year.  Due to the nature of the material, I can only work on it when I’ve got a reasonable chunk of time which for me means at least 2 hours on a Saturday afternoon.  It’s going to take a lot longer to hit that 10,000 hour mark.



While thinking about all this I’ve also been thinking a bit about what I want to be doing when I get to retire (many many years away, but it’s good to have a plan).  I don’t want to wait until I retire to do things, but I’d like to be in better creative habits when I get there.  So this year I’ve done things like join my local arts and crafts society so I start to meet other creative people and become part of the community.



And I’ve bought a new sketchbook and coloured pencils and I’m trying to make sketching a daily practice (failing so far), something I haven’t really done since I was on my art foundation year many many years ago.


And on top of thinking about the glass work I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with the glass things I make, and having attended a couple of jewellery making courses over the last couple of months I’d love to do more of this too.



After all this thinking I’ve come to the conclusion that what I really need is more time.


Which led me to think about where I could get more time from and the realisation that I’m in the very privileged position of being able to change my hours at work, without affecting my income too much.



So from this month Fridays will no longer count towards the working week and I’ll be going back to Frensham Old Barn to do more jewellery making in the mornings, with more time for glass work in the afternoon.


I have no idea how this experiment will play out.  There are so many unknowns:


Will my new reduced income be enough?

Will I be able to do my current job in the reduced hours?

Will I have the discipline to use Friday’s as a crafting day?

Will it give me the time I crave to work on projects?

Will my glass and jewellery work improve with the additional focus?

While it is scary, I know I would regret not trying.  So off I go, and I’ll keep you posted on here.