Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Full Steam Ahead

We have all managed to cram so much into the last week, I have only just managed to have a rare early night to sit down and write this post. In addition, late nights seven days a week has left the GLINTies open to all manner of colds and flu, so that has also taken its toll of a few of us and zapped what remaining energy we had left!

One of the really interesting techniques we learnt last week was powder printing onto glass with Ruth Oliphant, who was mentioned in my post last week.  Check out her impressive work here.  Although Ruth is not formally part of the GLINT project, she has been incredibly informative and supportive to us all, and so it was a great opportunity to test out printing onto both float and Bullseye glass with  different glass powders.

Ruth Oliphant showing an example of glass powder printing at CGW.
Ruth's work often features images of buildings and architecture, "exploring the use of layers, bringing them together to create more complex landscapes and cityscapes".  The photo below shows her silk-screen with an image of a building on the photographic stencil, through which she will print the glass powders.
Photo of a building exposed onto a photographic silk screen ready for printing.
Ruth showed us the best techniques to get professional results, along with WHS information about using fine glass powders. She was also very generous with showing us her firing samples and sharing her powders especially for float glass, which were sourced overseas.
One of the printed powder tests, two screens, two colours, plus a lighter overlay

And here Ruth has played around with multiple printings for a layered look.
Over the last two weeks I have been teaching Deb, George and Spike how to prepare their silk screens for textile printing, so we all had our own screens to experiment with and we were kept busy for the rest of the afternoon.
My printed samples waiting to be fired in the kiln
I played around with both Bullseye glass and powders and float glass and powders using one and two colour applications.  The work was fired overnight and the next day we were able to view our handiwork.
And here they are! Some of you may recognise my tea-towel designs now on glass.
I was impressed with the definition and possibilities now available with future experimentation so I am now eagerly awaiting my delivery of Bullseye glass powders from Bluedog in Melbourne.
Here is a close-up of the printed float glass tests I did with Ruth's powder.
During the week I also managed to get around to finishing off my icebergs that I had cast in Blackwood  crystal, my using the  engraving tools to shear off the sharp edges on the base.

My first two icebergs sitting on a piece of grey crystal loaned by Spike
I loved these icebergs (the ipad photography does not do them justice) and so I set about making 5 more in the mould room the next day.
Ha clay icebergs under wraps until  I get around to making the moulds around them
So, whilst that process was ticking over, I finally got to expose a couple of designs to the Rayzist photosensitive film to make a photo-stencil for sandblasting.  This film is made by Problast and there are a few Youtube videos you can watch about the process. Spike has been using this process a lot for work for her exhibition, Selkie Stories,which opens tomorrow night at M16!!

Rayzist is a very familiar process for most screen printers, so I quickly exposed some of the film and set about cutting it up to shape around an old glass decanter that was destined for the op shop.....
The Rayzist protective film is blue, the transparent areas will be sandblasted
Obviously, the sheet of Rayzist is flat but in order to form it around a curved object I had to cut it up and re-place it carefully around the decanter, then patch the missing areas with more Rayzist or electrical tape.  On the top of the decanter I taped the rim with electrical tape and then cut into it with a sharp scalpel to form a design.  I will show the finished work in my next post.

Deb also gave us some insight into how she produces her slumped works so evocative of Antarctic waters or skies.  First of all she makes all her glass rods in the hot shop, then lays them out in the kiln before firing them, which can take days due to the amount of glass in each panel.
Debra Jurss preparing some of her wonderful glass panels at CGW
Debra Jurss - evocative of the Antarctic landscape. Photo courtesy Debra Jurss
Debra has been to Antarctica (twice!) so I am jealous as all hell. So there is a bit of an icy theme running through us GLINTies....Debra's landscapes, Spike's selkie stories, my icebergs inspired by my Gullkistan residency....and George's new ice-cream dishes and spoons decorated with sprinkles.

George Agius "Sprinkles Glasses" with spoon....delicious with ice-cream.....
And yet there is more excitement this week...! George booked a slot in the hot shop for Nicci, Luke and I to actually try our hand at blowing is so much harder and hotter than it looks (and quite a bit scarier too....). The last few photos for this week show George teaching how to gather glass from the furnace, shape it and blow it into various UFO's which will no doubt become treasured garden ornaments...or paperweights....or.....
George heating her glass in the glory hole

After shaping my glass its time to "jack-off"! The glass is then taken over to the annealing kilns.

Luke flies solo shaping his UFO....
This week has been far too much fun and lots of hard work, so stay tuned to find out how things have cooked in the kiln next week.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Week Two flies past

I have no idea where the last week has disappeared to - somewhere between the Glassworks and Megalo no doubt. Since our induction into both organisations the "Glinties," as we've been calling ourselves, have been hard at work trying to get up to speed in newfound media and work regimes and conscious that we are almost half way through our residency. Yes, scary.

So, what have we been up to?? On Monday I helped Deb and George put their designs onto some photographic screens, and we spent time going through all the necessary steps so that they learnt how to coat and expose a screen themselves. Actually they were very good at coating their screens so the rest of the procedure went smoothly. The afternoon was spent printing their designs onto fabric which is always exciting as the following photos show.

George is highly excited about printing her 'Sprinkles" multicolour design.
Photo by Debra Jurss.

Nicci Haynes invited us to a woodblock printing demonstration at the ANU, and gave us a very informative talk about the types of wood and tools to use, the creative possibilities woodblock printing can offer and introduced us to a few of the students who are making large woodblock prints. As well as using the press, Nicci also showed us how to transfer the prints by hand.
Nicci using a plastic burnishing tool to transfer the ink from the woodblock.
Now, I have to confess there were a few laughs about my optimistic post last week, where I mentioned I was looking forward to opening the kiln the next day to see how our casting lesson went...haha! As anyone who lives and breathes glass will know that putting the work into the kiln is one thing...waiting for it to come out is an entirely different beast. So I waited...and waited...and then finally four days later we were able to open the kiln and retrieve our samples.
My casting samples....hmmm ... what is it you say????
After four days I was super-excited to see how things turned out.  You can't really tell from the moulds what lies inside, and what our high expectations are.  So...breaking the plaster mould to reveal what lies within...
Two icebergs have landed  in the cold room....
I decided that my first casting project would be a series of icebergs inspired by my residency in Iceland a few years ago. Having an ipad with a store of photos from that residency with me was great - I just tapped straight back into Jokulsarlon and the beauty I found crossing the lake filled with icebergs and walking amongst them on the beach.
Jokulsarlon, 2011

Yes, pretty cool

So now my icebergs are out of the kiln (...that sounds like a weird oxymoron) I am just waiting to learn how to finish them off to get rid of the jagged edges and polish the bottoms.

During the week there was also an impromptu lesson on cutting glass circles with Ruth Oliphant. Ruth was teaching Spike how to cut circles out of glass and before you know it we were all having a go - successfully too I might add.  It was very satisfying but also relevant.  For those of you who know my work, you will realise that the circular form plays a major part in my artistic concepts - referencing looking down the microscope; the circle of life; the micro and macrocosm.
Carefully scoring the glass, then snapping it

Two of my perfect circles using window glass.
Then finally, on Thursday I taught Spike how to put a simple one colour design into repeat so that she could start printing fabric lengths.  This was a major breakthrough for her, and it took her a while to get the concept between the screen width and the repeat width, but then the light went on and she was off and away. Here she is happily printing at Megalo and thankfully everything joins up perfectly. Well done, Spike!
Spike prints Cats and Ravens repeat length
This coming week I will be exploring screen printing with powders onto glass; engraving and sandblasting; organising my digitally printed prototypes and trying to fit as many working hours into the week as possible.
Until then,

Sunday, 9 August 2015


Last week was one of the most intensive weeks I've had for a while because I started the six-week GLINT (Glass+Print) residency with the Canberra Glassworks and Megalo. The reason why it was so intense was because the GLINTers had a 2-day introduction to printing techniques at Megalo, and then a 2-day introduction to glass techniques at the Glassworks. The six GLINTers are three print artists (myself, Nicci Haynes and Luke Chiswell) and three glass artists (Spike Deane, George Agius and Debra Jurss).
Me, George, Debra and Spike in the Megalo screenprinting studio
The first day we were all given an induction and WH&S instructions by Jemima, who demonstrated screen preparation, fabric printing and paper printing to the group.  This is totally new territory for the 'glassies' so during the residency I have offered to help them with their textile and print related processes.  During the six-week period we will all be working on our own ideas but will collaborate and help each other to realise our individual projects, because it is such a short time to produce work in a new medium.
Rory printing off one of the etchings in the Press studio at Megalo
The second day at Megalo we were introduced to the Press Studio by Rory who again took us through all the relevant WH&S to do with chemicals and equipment.  In the morning we explored the etching process and in the afternoon it was lithography.  Although I have done some relief printing and etching before, it was a long time ago, so this was very intense.  I have also wanted to find out about lithography, but never had the time, so this was a perfect introduction to working on directly onto stone.  I didn't realise what a time-consuming process it is, and as a consequence have a lot more respect and admiration for lithographers! Just the sheer physical work involved of grinding stones for hours before you even start to work on them is almost enough to put some people in our group off! However, we all conceded that there are many aspects of all our practices that involves concentration, dedication and perspiration, but not everyone is suited to that particular process.

Day Three of the Intensive week saw us rock up to the Glassworks to have an induction and WH&S with Emilie Patteson, the Artistic Programs co-ordinator who was also a GLINT 2014 participant.  Emilie makes beautiful work that encases botanical specimens within glass, and I can see many similarities in our interests and concepts.
Debra, Emilie, George, Nicci and Luke exploring fusing.
Emilie took us through ways to fuse glass and print powders onto some small tiles in the morning.  The printers learnt a whole lot of new terms and techniques, although Nicci has done workshops in glass before so she was a few steps ahead of Luke and I. In the afternoon Matt Curtis, who is the inaugural Creative Fellow for 2015, showed us the techniques of etching and sandblasting onto glass, and I think these are two techniques I will be using a lot with my project.
After lunch George and Debra booked a slot in the hot glass workshop for us and demonstrated glass blowing and stringer -making.
George pulling some glass out of the furnace ready to work, Debra assisting behind.
This was the first time some of us had been down on the floor of the Hot-shop as opposed to watching from the safety of the balcony. Ben Edols also had a team on the floor, so we were introduced to the etiquette of pas-de-deux between furnaces and glory holes! We were assured that it was a quiet day, but frankly I would not want to be down there when it was busy. I was conscious of trying to avoid globs of molten glass the whole time! George and Debra were great, and I really admired their cool and confident handling of the glass tools and heat, their skill in pulling stringers, jacking-off (yes, this is a glass-term!) and finally putting the finished pieces into the annealing kiln.
Debra pulling a stringer from a single blob of molten glass
The girls enabled each of us to explore the addition of different objects into molten glass - for me it was a piece of metallic-silk organza; for Luke it was a dollar coin and an American dollar bill; and for Nicci it was some different metal wires.  It was really enlightening to see what worked and what just ended up as ash. My experiment turned out well, with the silk thread burning and depositing ash but the copper metallic thread stayed in tact and formed a weird fibrous object encased within glass.

For the last day of induction we had the whole day with Spike, who taught us how to make plaster moulds around clay objects so that once the clay is removed, the void is filled with broken glass, then fired in the kiln.  This did take a while, as there were three separate layers of plaster to cover our clay sculpture, the last one containing grog (again, another glass or ceramic term!).  At the end of the day we managed to get our moulds into the kiln and I am impatiently waiting for tomorrow when I can see what the result will be.....
Spike helping me smooth down the last layer of my two moulds
This residency is not only going to be a great adventure into the world of glass, but also fun, and already I feel we are all working together to help each other realise our projects and to learn as much as we can. Stay tuned!
I would also like to acknowledge the support provided by the Copyright Agency CICF grant for my GLINT project.