Friday, 15 October 2010

Glass Casting Workshop

My journey with glass continued into the world of glass casting this week. Its a whole new area to learn about and one I've been wanting to try for a while now. I very nearly signed up for a masterclass with Keith Cummings at the International Glass Festival this year but then decided I wanted to try it on a smaller (and cheaper!) scale first.

This week I started a 3 week course at Glass from the Past with Sue Chalk. She is an excellent, experienced glass artist who we've spent years asking, no actually begging, to teach us all how to cast glass. By day Sue is a science technician at the same school as me but this masks her amazing knowledge and skill for glass. For the past 13yrs Sue has been exploring glass, drawn to the play of colour and light and is intrigued by the plastic and manipulative qualities of glass. She is currently casting lead crystal and many of these pieces are on display at Glass from the Past and have a magical luminous quality to them. In 2006 she received the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers' award for creative glass and has also exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Now I'm pretty sure not many people at school know that!

So workshop 1 was all about making an item out of chavant plasticine ready to cast it's negative next week. I became completely absorbed by making my item, a mini conch shell but before I knew it the time was over and I came away with some chavant to try and make another item to cast next week. Who knows if I'll have time to do my homework though as I'm off on another workshop this weekend to learn how to make silver art clay. Happy times in workshops this week :o)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

How paintings can evoke memories

Are there paintings that you've looked at that remind you of certain times, places or people? I know photos and music can do that so easily but have you ever had that with a work of art?

I've spent the day today with 40 Yr10 students visiting The National Gallery and The National Portrait Gallery. (We had a great gallery talk in The National and plenty of sketching time in the Portrait Gallery too....and I'm back there again tomorrow with another 40 kids for round 2!) However while I was in the Portrait Gallery this morning I had a 'blast from the past' moment with this painting of Sir Christopher Ondaatje by Daphne Todd. 

Now most people will say "who?" and be completely baffled but I was transported back to 1999 and my 1st job after uni at Blundell's School, Tiverton, Devon where I worked as their Theatre Manager/Administrator/Teacher in the school theatre called.....Ondaatje Hall (excuse the teeny tiny picture, it was the best i could find online!). I doubt it was the painting I saw today but there was a portrait of Christopher Ondaatje hanging in the theatre foyer for us to walk past every day and it was one that I often found myself looking at and seeing more and more in it and enjoying the painting style. 

So how come the school had a building named after the man who also donated money to build the Ondaatje Wing at the National Portrait Gallery? Well he was an old boy of the school and after a hugely successful career in finance/ publishing donated a large sum of money to build an arts centre at the this is the kid of former students I could do with in my dept!!! He also made some slightly strange stipulations about the design of the building though - a tower, a spiral staircase and a balcony needed to be in the building with the theatre, drama room, art history room and art studios. Now I guess if you are donating money you can make any design stipulations that you like but in this case it actually made for interesting architecture....although the meeting room balcony that opened up to a view of the theatre foyer was a little on the pointless side of things!

In my year at the school I got to meet the man himself when he came to give a talk with the National Geographic Society in my theatre and I didn't need to be introduced to him to recongise him. He was exactly like his portrait, very tall, kind of willowy in build but with a grand status kind of aura. If you take a close look at the portrait I think you'll see what I mean too.

So what paintings or music bring back happy memories for you?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

So true

I was reading a blog today by a fellow crafter and they'd been told this rhyme recently which I love as it sums up some situations we come across in life perfectly.

" I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
I am I and you are you.
If we meet and respect each other,
Then it can be beautiful.
If not, then it's too bad."

I don't know about you but I tend to take far too many things to heart and find myself bogged down by other people or beaurocracy at work and could do with remembering this saying. I know I shouldn't be so sensitive but thats easier said than done and there are times I wish I could change my personality to shrug things off more easily but I am who I am and I'm happy with that.

As a secondary school teacher I am constantly put upon to get students ridiculously high grades for their GCSE's. According to the stats people anyone who can get high SATs in yr 6 for eng, maths, science and lives in a nice area is somehow supposed to get an A* for Art!?! Nevermind their artistic skills, lazy attitude or I've gone the extra mile to pull them through the exam course. It drives me mad and is a big cause of stress, perhaps I should think back to this saying next time I'm being quizzed about my students.

Does this saying have resonance with you too? Share it with your friends if so.

Life Drawing Workshop


Full day life drawing sessions for all abilities.

Lunch, life model and basic drawing materials are provided.

Sessions are suitable for those who wish to access a life model for their own work through to beginners as an experienced artist and drawing tutor will be on hand throughout.

Sunday 10th October, 11am-3.30pm - Figurative drawing workshop  form and structure
And / Or
Sunday 17th October, 11am-3.30pm - Figurative drawing workshop  narrative and expression.

£12 per session or £20 for both - Over 18’s only

BIG DRAW events at the University of Essex
Studio 1, Clifftown Studios, Nelson Street Southend, SS1 1EF

For more info or to book phone Clare on 01702 328279 or email

Online art courses with Tate Gallery

Tate Gallery are now running online art courses. Via their facebook page I found out about this one that may be of interest to some of you. This would appear to be one of several online courses they have so if you want to learn more about art click on the link and see where it takes you.

Introduction to Drawing Techniques

Sketches, still lifes and studies – drawing is often considered as the primary method of artistic expression.

This course introduces you to a variety of drawing techniques, using a combination of video tutorials and examples of work by artists in Tate’s collection. See exclusive video footage of artists explaining their drawing practice, learn at your leisure and also discuss your works with fellow students in the online forum.

The Introduction to Drawing Techniques course costs £20 for unlimited access and can be purchased online. Find out more about the course content in the course overview.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

New lampwork bracelets

Today I finished making 3 new lampwork bead bracelets. These are my hot sellers at the moment. As quick as I make them they are selling. These 3 are also the last bracelets I can make for a while because although I have some beads left there are not enough to make any more bracelets (unless someone didn't mind completely random colour combinations!).

This one is perfectly autumnal with rich reds and browns in the glass beads and garnet seed beads too. Its also a longer length  £40

Summery, aquatic lampwork beads with mother of pearl £35

Pretty pink and lilac lampwork beads with swarovski crystals. This is so gorgeous I am thinking about keeping it but if you'd like it get in touch and I'll work out a price.

If you would like any lampwork for Christmas presents please get in touch asap as I will be busy with fairs/parties from late Oct-early Dec and need to start forward planning lampwork torch time at Glass From the Past. Watch this space for exciting new from the studio coming soon!