Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Return to Galaxies

I’ve been beavering away on my galaxy marbles again. I stopped making them for a while as I wasn’t very happy how they were coming out, so went back to the drawing board and tried a couple of different techniques to form them. I am much happier with them now, and leading on from the complex cane techniques I’ve learnt a lot recently about ways of building up more complexity in the marble.

Wot more!?! Yes, I am still excited to find out how much I can pack into something just over an inch in diameter. I do like the idea, especially with these, that I can put a whole world – or even worlds! – into such a small space so the viewer has more things to discover.

If you go to one of the forgotten distant wings of The British Museum there is, (at least there was the last time I went there) a small display of items from the 1500-1600’s. Among them are what look like large boxwood pocket watches but inside they have the most amazing carved religious scenes. In a space less that an inch ½ across are dozens – yes dozens!- of figures clustering around a crucifixion scene, some of the spears soldiers are holding are no more than a splinter. How some medieval genus managed to carve these, probably with quite basic tools, inspires wonder and awe at their craftsmanship. I guess it’s seeing things like this that convinces me that even a marble or a bead can be a big enough canvas for any epic scene. One of the technical problems I’ve had with these marbles is down to the lack of heat I can get into the marble until I can afford a bigger torch. Looking at these is a reminder that I don’t need to make them huge to be full of interest.

On an exciting glass front I am awaiting a new shipment of glass colours from a factory sale in the USA. It’s rather battered my ‘big torch fund’ but it will mean some new colours and some glass I’ll have a decent usable quantity of. One or two I’ve been rationing because I’m down to a few stubs, so it will be great to go wild with some really exciting colours, including one of the sexist multi-coloured blues ever, and even two new reds!

In the meantime here are some pictures of one I’ve turned into a wine stopper – they are all the same marble but I am finding they really look different as I move them around which is exactly what I want, but makes a real headache of photographing them to show what they are like! This one is up at my folksy shop.

Edited as I've since found they are called 'prayer-nuts' and you can see a few on the British museum website, although they are more impressive in real life!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Urgh January!

Well, January is finally behind us, and what a relief! Between all sorts of domestic stuff to sort out, and being laid low with various winter lurgies, running the risks of sprains and breaks from snow and ice and the general malaise the new year brings it feels now I can get back to real work! I read a tweet (yes, I twitter too if you’ve not had enough of my ramblings here) that ‘January is like the Monday of the year.’ Quite a good analogy I think.

I’ve been plotting a clearout sale, but like everything else I’ve not managed to get that organised either. I’m a little behind with everything, and still trying to catch up so maybe they’ll be a January sale in March! One thing I’ve been working on is a collaboration with a jeweller, can’t say much about it yet but it’s very exciting and is giving me lots of new ideas too!
I have been pleasantly overwhelmed by the response to my little cloudy worlds this week. I don’t make them very often as I need to fiddle with the kiln settings, and then spend a good few hours trying to match them into pairs. As they are all free-formed I sit down measuring them all with digital callipers to get the closest matches. It also gives me chance to check each one and throw out any rejects. Since it’s been a while since I last made them I wasn’t aggressive enough with the treatment that makes the clouds, so I have a few with lighter blue glass and just a few wisps of cloud. I’m not sure what I’ll call these yet, ‘wispy clouds on a mostly clear day little worlds’ seems a bit too long and ‘clear day with some high altitude cloud worlds’ too much like a weather report! I might go for something easy like ‘light blue little worlds,’ shorter but even the initials are still bigger than the worlds!