Marbles again

Oct 01 2011 Published by under Lampworking

Finally managed to sit down for a couple of hours yesterday and make some marbles – this is the only one I’m happy-ish with; it’s the first I’ve taken time over for some time, and the petals turned out quite nice, although there’s a lot of trapped air in there – going to have to work on that. It’s borosilicate, and about 31mm (1 3/16″) diameter. I’m doing a class with John Kobuki at the start of November, so I thought I better put a bit of practice in!

There were a couple of others, one of which had some silver and gold fume in, but it didn’t strike very well, so I’ll leave it in the kiln for a few cycles and see if it comes up better.

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More Bracelets

Aug 31 2011 Published by under Lampworking, News

Battery charged! And on we go…

DalaiAg 2

RedStacks 4

SilverBrown 5

TurquoiseNests 2

SilveredIvory 5

And, that’s it so far. Some of these are going up to Mugdock Gallery (tomorrow, I think), and a couple may end up on Etsy. I’m off to get some more torch time…

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Orchids again!

Oct 09 2010 Published by under Lampworking, News

The Scottish Glass Society held an auction to raise some cash, and asked for donations. It so happened that I was starting a kind of experimental sculpture-y thing in boro, and I decided I would donate it for the auction if it came out ok.

Well, it started as a big marble, including some experimental gold and silver fumed implosions, but it didn’t work quite right, so got stretched into a teardrop shape. Looking at it sitting on the punty, I had this image of it as a kind of seed, growing roots out of the bottom, and a big flower spike with some sort of alien flower on the top.

Since I’d already had a go at those soft glass orchids, I decided on a kind of fantasy-exaggerated paphiopedilum flower. I realised it would need some leaves too, if it wasn’t going to look too out of balance.

Close-up of Flower

The colours are all mostly Trautman Art Glass, mainly over clear, but sometimes clear-encased. Except for the roots, which get that really accurate greyish silver sheen from TV tube supports. They’re borosilicate stand-offs to insulate TV tubes from their frames and casings.

The Whole Thing

The whole thing is about 30 x 20 x 20cm, and gave me a few problems with annealing, and avoiding checking, etc. I put it together over about a week on and off, but I think I will take a lot less time with the next one, now I know to Plan Ahead…

The Arty Shot

I particularly like this image, because you can see the curve of the stem, and how the flower sits in proportion to the rest of the piece.

True to form, it didn’t go into the oven until the evening before the auction. We collected it, and a bowl made by Gillian (also only annealed that night), and whisked them over to Edinburgh College of Art in time for the cut-off at mid-day. I’m please to say that both pieces were sold, and raised £130 for the Scottish Glass Society.

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…and then, it was all over…

Sep 01 2010 Published by under Lampworking, News

Well, after a couple of days writing here ‘as it happened’, it occurred to me that what I was finding exciting and inspirational was probably coming across as a bit dull to the casual reader. So, I decided to save it all up and let you have it in one big chunk, piccies and all.

This class has definitely been a bit of a revelation to me; it seems I got out of it everything I was hoping for, and more besides. There was waaaay too much going on to describe it all, so I’ll give you some pictures to save some words.


Gianni Toso

And then, the stuff he showed us how to make. Flowers;


And a Quite Remarkable Fairy:

I even had a wee go myself. None of this stuff survived for posterity, as we had no kilns for garaging and annealing, so things pretty much died on the bench shortly after photographing:

I have a million (ok, less than a million) other photos, which form a pretty comprehensive set of photo tutorials for all this stuff, but you’d be bored by that, now, wouldn’t you…

So now, it’s down to a spot of practicing, and we’ll see where all this new stuff leads.

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Lampworking, lampworking….

Aug 25 2010 Published by under Lampworking, News

The first full day with Gianni, and we are moving on apace. Gianni showed various techniques for making cane, making wings for butterflies, fairies and the like, and making detailed heads for characters. He is using the class time to build a sculpture of a glassblower, but in between showing how he builds these components, he is also showing a whole bunch of other skills. I have enough photos to sink a ship!

So today we saw the head, body and legs of a glassblower made, and also a fairy. Seeing the common methods and ‘units’ used is incredibly helpful, as it lets you imagine immediately how to use the techniques in your own designs.




With a break around lunchtime to taste a drop of kosher wine, it was a bit of a relief to get some fresh air – the studio has no active ventilation.

Some of the components Gianni makes are quite large, and require garaging in order to prevent them cooling and cracking – this is all fine, but the student torch stations have no kilns, so it is difficult for us to try to replicate what we are being shown, as we cannot garage at the bench. Oh well, we’ll just have to wait until we get home….

We all got quite a bit of practice-time, which seemed mostly to be used practicing heads:


which Gianni reckons look like ‘a bunch of mafia’. Thanks, Gianni…

Gianni announced half-way through the afternoon that he was going to make a tree, and we should all make something to hang on it, so it could be entered for the auction this weekend. My mind went blank in terror. Still working on that one…

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Butterflies, and other things…

Aug 23 2010 Published by under Lampworking, News

Well, we got here in the end.
Yesterday was a travel day, and like all travel days for us, it started at about 5:30am. At least, for me, it did; Gillians capacity for sleeping through a deadline never ceases to amaze me…
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we packed the car with enough stuff to survive a desert island stranding, and set off for Stourbridge via Bedford. (A long story about a log cabin could go here, but I’ll spare you.)
We got here at about 5pm-ish, ready to catch up on emails, eat, and Drink Some Beer. Imagine my delight to discover that Premier Inns charge £5/hr, or £10/day, for wifi access. Stunned.
So I’m writing this on my iPhone.
Anyway, after the usual sleepless first-night-in-a-hotel, we were glad of a late-ish start, with registration at the Ruskin Glass Centre at 11am. We were actually there a bit early (!), which meant we signed in and got all our goodies without queueing, and retired immediately to the cafe, for several cups of tea.
A short welcome speech and a lovely bowl of carrot and Ginger soup later, Gillian disappeared off to Broadfield House for her hot-shop class with Allister Malcolm, and I to my first session with Gianni Toso.
Gianni’s teaching style seems to be one of demonstration and discussion, but without the (to me) usual ‘I do, you do’ structure. This left me a little unsure as to whether I should be watching, or working. I’m hoping that things will even out tomorrow; not that I’m complaining! With the aid of a few severely butchered barbeque tools and a couple of wooden clothespegs (why didn’t I think of that?), Gianni showed us a Venetian encased twisted cane technique (which we all had at least one go at), how to use cane sections to build a hollow vessel on a blowpipe (again, we had a go), how to pull tubing (no, really…), and how to use the tubing to blow encalmo coloured baubles. Sabine requested a butterfly, so, with apologies for being a bit rusty, he knocked one up. And a fish ornament. And a head for one of his amazing sculptures. And some other stuff. Pics have arrived!

Gianni Toso Blowing

Gianni Toso Butterfly

Gianni Toso Butterfly

Gianni Toso Pulchinella Head

So all in all, I’m looking forward to the next few days; they’re going to be challenging, no doubt about that…

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