Sunday, 14 December 2014

Blog Hop

I have been invited to take part in a Blog Hop by the lovely and creative Becky Moore who makes the most beautiful embroidered velvet bags (see her work HERE

Becky Moore Hand Bags
The Hop requires me to answer four questions about my work and then nominate another designer maker to carry the Hop on. 

What am I working on?
This time of the year I am busy making replacements of stock sold, mostly Christmas decorations and Scandi birds, but I have also been invited to make a piece of glass for an exhibition at Bradford College. The exhibition, Pick and Mix, will showcase work by designer-makers in response to the textile archive at the College. This is a great opportunity for me to move away from my current style of work as I am constrained by the fabric samples I have chosen.  

1952, ready to be fired
I have chosen two pieces from the Americas Collection, 1952 and 1956, which are both prints on cotton in limited colours and I have been working through two ideas. ! have been playing with repeat patterns and geometric structures for one piece and trying to create more organic shapes with negative space for the second.  Both finished pieces will be slumped into dish forms  - because I like my glass to have a practical application.  
Working with colour is a vital part of my work and the structured piece will be in opal glass, the colours are reminiscent of the 1950s and will imitate the flat, dense orange and black of the fabric sample.  The second piece will be made from amber, clear and charcoal glass - all transparent - to give that piece the organic feel that I am after. 
No pressure but these pieces have to be finished before the end of the month! 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I originally studied textile design and worked as an illustrator, therefore my designs for glass are influenced by surface pattern and colour.  There is more to designing for glass than just cutting a square of opal glass and slumping it in the kiln. I cut each piece meticulously and grind all the edges before the glass goes into the kiln and I pay great attention to detail. Over the years I have experimented and practised the craft of kiln fired glass until I now know exactly what to expect when I open the kiln up at the end of firing (apart from the odd slippage - very annoying).

Spun Sugar Fruit Dish 
Many designs simply won't work in glass - they become too "clunky" or "amateurish" -  so what looks good on paper doesn't necessarily translate to the finished product.  I used to make jewellery using dichroic glass but I gave this up because my designs looked too much like everyone else's.  However, I have recently had a rethink about dichroic glass (metal oxides coated onto glass that reflect and refract light to give a jewel-like quality) and, in 2015, I will be designing and experimenting to produce a limited edition range of earrings, brooches and pendants. 

Why do I do what I do?
My Dad was a potter and he  encouraged my sisters and I to be creative.  I always said that textiles was my life but, when I was bought a fused glass decoration, I thought "I wonder if I can do that"? Glass is just another surface for me to decorate with pattern and colour yet, as a medium, it is also quite limiting. Glass is also a slow process which is surprising that I love it because I am not a patient person.  However, like textiles, glass is very tactile and attractive to touch.  This is the appeal for me. 

I have a mass of influences that translate into glass - I love retro design, Scandinavian folk design, patchwork quilts and Indian embroidery. All have appeared in some form in my work over the past 15 years and I'm certain I will discover new influences in the future.  

How does my process work? 
It's very simple - I take sheets of glass and fuse them to make - glass :) 
Kiln formed glass is stacked onto the kiln shelf, starting from the bottom and adding more pieces, and then fused at high temperatures (up to 840c) until it turns from a super-cooled liquid into nearer its natural state (liquid).  I add more glass during a second firing if necessary and can fuse some pieces up to three times before I slump them into moulds.   
My spun sugar bowls give the appearance of glass that has been dribbled in liquid form across a bowl shape but, in reality, they are made from strips of glass that are laid in a grid across the kiln shelf.  Each firing gives the negative space a more rounded edge until they look like holes in the structure.  

Honeycomb Fruit dish
Glass loves heat but only when heated and cooled slowly as it expands at a rate of 0.00090 mm per second. Any faster and it will crack with thermal shock. It needs time to rest at a holding temperature both whilst being heated and cooled therefore accurate kiln temperature timings are vital to the process. Badly annealed glass will fracture - either immediately once exposed to room temperature or anything up to six months after.  Thank goodness for the digital timer!

So here is my nominee for the Blog Hop, talented textile designer Anne Crowther from Daisy Florence Design.  Please visit her blog because her work is super.  

Monday, 6 October 2014

A Magical Weekend

This weekend I will be taking part in Settle Storytelling Festival (11th and 12th October) at The Makers' Market  in Settle Social Club.

I'm really looking forward to this event - it was really good last year with story tellers at every venue around the town.  So, the kiln is on, the glass is hot and I'll have plenty of new stock.

Hope to see you there. Jo X

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Walk This Way

I am lucky enough to have been selected to take part in the HOST Art Walk in Huddersfield next Thursday 11th September.  I will be at Neaversons on Byram Street with two artists, Audrey Erbany and Carol Curtis displaying my glass alongside their art.

I don't know many people in Huddersfield so, If you are in the area next Thursday, please pop in and say hello. You can get a great cuppa (or something stronger) at Neaversons and, bizarrely, they sell popcorn tea! 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Chapel Allerton - one year on

Silly me! I forgot to post that I will be at Chapel Allerton Festival in Leeds this Saturday selling hand made glass.  I can't believe it's been a year since I was there but I hope it is as brilliant as it was last year.

Scandinavian Birds

I will be bringing a selection of my Scandi Birds which have now been redesigned to make them more bird-like (I gave them a longer tail).  They did terrifically well at Strid Woods last weekend and I have been busy making replacements.  

If you at Chapel Allerton this weekend please pop by and say hello. I will be outside on Hawthorn Road (yes, I know, I don't like being outdoors with glass) but the weather is supposed to be cracking. :) 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Strid Wood Tea Rooms

Strid Wood Tea Rooms

I will be showcasing my glass at the Strid Wood Tea Rooms at Bolton Abbey on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th August. 

The Bolton Abbey Estate is a great place to visit with lovely walks through the woods from The Abbey to The Strid (a part of the river Wharfe where the water races between the rocks) and further on to Barden Bridge.

Bolton Abbey

Beautiful places like Bolton abbey are what Yorkshire is all about.  Here's hoping the weather is fine and the visitors are plentiful. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Creative Saturday

Kaleidoscope Fruit Dish 30cm

Today I am working on a large Kaleidoscope fruit dish which will hopefully be finished in time for the Chapel Allerton Festival at the end of August. A friend recently asked me how I have the patience to cut, grind, clean and position every piece of glass before placing the glass in the kiln - well I don't.  Instead I work on a section of the design each day before moving onto something else which makes the task a lot less arduous.First I take my template, which I created by drawing concentric circles and adding radiating lines before photocopying it, then I draw out the radiating shapes onto the photocopy.  After that I decide which colours of transparent glass I am going to use and start cutting the shapes.  THis dish has 230 component parts, measuring no more than 30mm, so you can see why I break it down into sections!
The worst part is washing, rinsing and drying each piece, making sure there is no residue powdered glass or pen marks and the fun part is positioning the jigsaw of tiny parts onto the base clear glass before fusing.  Oh, I forgot to say that I don't have to remember where each piece goes because I take a photo of it on my phone before I start the washing process.
Even so, these dishes are quite labour intensive but hugely enjoyable to make. Here are a few more....

Deep Kaleidoscope dish measuring 20cm across

Deep Kaleidoscope dish measuring 20cm across

If you want to see more of #whatiamworkingontoday please view my Instagram or visit my Folksy shop for the finished glass products.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Digging for Victory

It's been a bloomin' good year for the allotment so far.  We have had a glut of courgettes and runner beans, done well with strawberries and sweetcorn and we are looking forward to potatoes and butternut squash.

It's not all been plain sailing though and we have made some mistakes such as: we didn't make good use of the space, didn't plant enough broad beans and don't even ask what happened to the peas! 

Rob the Robin 

One of the joys of working on the allotment is the wildlife, particularly visits from Rob the Robin, who likes to shout encouragement from a safe distance whilst I dig. Here he is, after his moult and sporting his new, sleek feathers. 

Next year we won't make the same mistakes that we did this year - just different ones :)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Scandinavian Style Quilt

It's finally finished! The red and grey sofa quilt has been machine pieced, hand quilted and edged in a stripey binding ready to snuggle up on the sofa with.  

I like machine piecing during the summer so that I can hand quilt in front of the fire during the winter. It's a very simple design of squares and rectangles edged with a figured white cotton.  

But I can't rest on my laurels because I have another quilt to finish and a new one to start for a very special person.....  

All my patchwork and quilting inspiration is on my Pinterest board HERE

Monday, 3 February 2014

Feeling Poorly - what to do?

Linen curtain remnants

I've not been very well lately so I haven't been able to get to the studio and make glass for a couple of weeks. It's boring being ill, there's only so many films I can watch and books I can read and sleeps I can sleep so I thought I'd do a bit of sewing.

Having chopped the bottom off a pair of silver grey linen curtains I am left with a length of fabric, ideal for making some napkins.  I ironed Bondaweb to the back of a piece of red patterned cotton fabric and cut the bid shapes out, then ironed it onto the front of each napkin.  After pressing it flat I machine stitched each birdy and now have four useful (if a bit creased) napkins. 

Voila! Took an hour. Now I'm thinking: lampshades, table cloths, tea cosies......

Friday, 10 January 2014

Tealights and Trinkets

Tealight Dishes

Over Christmas we snuggled up in front of the fire and watched movies by candlelight - very cosy! I bought lots of lovely scented tealights: frankincense and myrrh, Christmas tree scent and Christmas spice.

Tealights need tealight holders (doh) so I have designed and made some new curvy glass dishes that fit perfectly with tealights and small candles.  The colours of the glass reflect against a windowsill or wall by candle light.

Tealight dish

These durable tea light holders are now available for sale in my Etsy shop and includes a yummy scented tealight too.  

Tealight dish Etsy

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Sad to see them go....

Today we are taking the Christmas decorations down.  This means the living room will look rather bare but at least we have the fire to cheer us up. Oh and we do have Christmas 2014 to look forward to.....

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year, New Glass

Kaleidoscope Dish

I have been  spending the days between Christmas and New Year restocking my glass by making lots of decorations, dishes and Christmas decorations (yes, that's right!) Although my first public show isn't until April I need to make enough stock whilst I still have the time. Once I start my new job next week I won't have this luxury for a while.

I have been enjoying making glass dishes based on a kaleidoscope pattern and have these for sale in my Etsy shop. The patterns are great fun to design, starting with concentric circles on graph paper and "colouring in" the shapes.  

Kaleidoscope dish
The colour combinations are endless and I have just made a large fruit dish in greens and ambers. I will be posting the image as soon as I have photographed it.  Meanwhile, I am now playing with new ideas for Christmas tree decorations based on snowflake patterns which will hit my Folksy and Etsy shops from October 2014.  

Kaleidoscope dish
Anyway, Happy New Year to you. I hope 2014 comes up to your expectations!