Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Canberra Glassworks

Shannon Garson and Kirstie Rea

We have just returned from the most wonderful and inspiring 3day intensive class at Canberra Glassworks with a wonderful artist, Kirstie Rea. We were so lucky to have such an experienced and enthusiastic teacher who seemed to understand immediately what we were doing! Kirstie showed us many different kilnforming, sandblasting, wet grinding and diamond engraving techniques so that we were exposed to a broad range of possibilities working with glass. It was fantastic having Kirstie all to ourselves.

Preparation for sandblasting- Shannon painting PVA on window glass.

There were some overlaps between Shannon's ceramics and glass and my coldworking techniques but I found it really beneficial to learn the proper ways of doing things in a glass workshop and loved learning about fusing glass.

Pulling apart moulds from the kiln

My favorite technique involved making impressions cast from plaster moulds using botanical specimens and moulds made from silpression and silver/copper. We filled the cavities using pate de verre (glass paste made from tiny grains of glass), glass powder and sheets cut to size. It was quite a magical process with pieces of non-descript plaster and greyish glass granules disappearing in the kiln overnight to emerge in the morning, melted flat and brightly coloured. Of course firing schedules were carefully planned and numerous technical and safety procedures observed but there were some truly magic moments breaking the glass from the plaster.

The massive turbine room in the Glassworks- a converted powerstation.

The glassworks was a wonderful place to learn- well set up, organised and plenty of friendly and dedicated workers and artists to learn from. We hope to return there later this year to further develop our work for Swamp Cartography.

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