Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Handmade Glass Lace Bobbins

I answered a desperate call over on the UK Lampwork forum 'Frit Happens' a week or so ago for 'help, can anybody here make glass lace bobbins?' After a quick google images to remind me what a lace bobbin looks like, I cautiously answered 'maybe, possibly.' I know, it's a cop-out answer but I've learnt the hard way not to commit myself to making something before I've tried - some of the simplest looking things turn out to be the hardest. I know some people run towards commissions, I tend to run away!

After a few emails with the lady who wants them I had a go at a few designs since the kiln was already on and hot! It was unusal trying to match them to an existing design which was hollow, I made these in solid glass which I'm more comfortable with, plus I think it gives them a nicer weight. Sizing was tricky, as she needed a set of ten, so I remembered a bit from my class with Jennifer Umphress where she showed how she used simple cardboard templates to make some of her large complex glass frames, and a permanent marker to size the glass. I ended up making a few more than planned, altering the existing design to make it more my own style, plus simplifing parts of the design to make it easier to keep them straight when making.

Test Glass Lace Making Bobbins
The customer, luckily, liked what I'd come up with, so asked me to make the ten. I did a bakers/glass makers dozen which was a good job as despite the template the sizes varied a little more than I wanted. I'm guessing getting too closed to the template and lightly charring it probably didn't help much in that regard!

They were so different to the type of glass I normally make they were surprisingly therapeutic to make. I don't know if I'll make many more, it has to be a hard-head business decision of having enough demand, but I can already see scope for ways I can make really special and unusal ones. 

The finished Glass Lace Bobbins
I'll probably make a more robust template if I make some more!

Friday, 14 March 2014

My Lampwork Manifesto

I've not published anything on the blog for a while, I've been using the immediacy of Facebook to relay any news, so I thought it a good time to re-think and re-state some thoughts. I'm thinking more about my 'art' side of things of late, and as I'm in more radical mood today I've re-written my 'artists statement and intention,' which has turned more into a manifesto, and explains 'why lampworking' as an artists medium. I don't expect everyone will 'get it' or understand some of it, but I think and hope it might strike a chord (no pun intended) with a few lampworkers who might read this.

Lampworking is rock ‘n' roll. Not that corporate-MTV-boyband rock ‘n' roll, but the sawdust and spilt beer on the floor, stale smoke BO filled dirty dark basement, ear-bleeding howling broken amp rock ‘n' roll. Furnace glassblowers are the orchestral movement; choreographed and rehearsed, we appreciate them in awe as they come together with grace and practise to produce beauty. We do love the fused workers jazz creations as they layer colour on colour, tone on tone, but we can't work that way. Spontaneity and individuality are why we work alone to bring life our crazed obsessive visions that we can't explain. We have to show and shout and smash and burn, to create.

In garages and dark unloved rooms we make our noise, thrashing and practising at guitars or torches to learn how to express ourselves. Cuts and blisters for both, and we continue through bleeding fingers as the music takes shape. The language is the same; one talks of larger amps and mixers to make bigger noise, the other bigger kilns and oxycons to make bigger glass. For one it's a Stratocaster or Les Paul guitar, for the other a GGT or Herbert Arnold torch; a blank tape or a clear rod of glass. To get them we play our cheap battered instruments, busking in streets or flea markets, making what we have to to pay for the creations in the back of our minds. These are not middle-of-the-road melodies or Christmas tree trinkets, these are single minded visions, drawn out of the darkest depths of our mind. There is no expectation anyone will even understand us, so we carry on alone, hoping our peers and idols might give a nod and say 'cool'. That's the only bread we have to keep us going in the hope of finally getting a proper gig. A dive bar, a tired art boutique at the wrong end of town, our first real gig, and the hope that it will eventually lead to that football stadium or whitewashed gallery. Always the fear that we'll burn out and give up before we reach our dream, and, if we finally succeed, our inner vision has taken over and nothing is as important as the next cool rift or lattachino.
  And both are the only jobs where you HAVE to wear dark glasses indoors. Rock on!
(Lampwork Manifesto - Copyright Glenn Godden)