Glass Jewellery

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This week I have experimented with combining glass and copper (via electro-forming) to make small sculptures and jewellery pieces. I have looked into different ways of joining the two materials, such as encasing a glass bead in copper and constructing wire sculptures/forms around pate de verre.

I am particularly impressed with some of the wire sculptures I have produced, as well as the wire loops wrapped around glass. Hopefully, during the next few weeks, I intend to combine these two techniques and develop my designs, considering these materials as particular jewellery pieces or as small scale sculptures, focusing on the concept of glass as a precious material and visually translating this.

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Overview of the year.

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Well my year in the Czech Republic has finally come to an end and what a year it has been! My last week in Usti consisted of finishing my work, presenting it and sharing the final moments with my friends before we all left for our home countries.
I am happy to write that I received another B in my final glass project and an A in 3D typography, giving me an overall score of 3 A’s and 4 B’s…not bad! One of the most important parts of this year was leaving England (and my comfort zone) and immersing myself in another country and culture. In retrospect I feel I was incredibly naive about the unique history and culture of the rest of the world. The differences in University education has given me a new perspective and helped me discover what I really want to achieve as a student and as a graduate. I have learnt how to maintain my integrity as a designer whilst taking criticism and developed a better understanding of what is required to design, develop and produce a successful product.

My year has been incredibly beneficial to me as I set out wanting to develop my skills in glass and not only did I achieve that, but I gained invaluable work experience and was able to see how the glass industry works in a different country. In some ways, I am excited about the prospect of working with glass in England now, as it is valued as a bespoke craft whereas in Novy Bor, Czech Republic it is still valued but is also treated as a regular everyday occupation. I am thoroughly glad that I have had to chance to practise and study this medium in two countries, where in one it is treated as a niche skilled craft and in the other it is far more industrious and widespread.

Another significant part of my year abroad was the people I met. I feel extremely privileged to have met such lovely people and because we were all Erasmus students, we shared the same passions for travel and experiencing the world. This turned out to be very beneficial when I travelled with them to Berlin,Venice, Dresden and Prague many times. I also met and became friends with several Czech individuals which to me was very important as they showed me around their towns and capital and allowed me to see their country through their eyes and not just through the eyes of a tourist.

In conclusion, I will never forget my Erasmus year and the experiences I have had. Studying abroad has enriched my life and taught me so much about myself: where I want to go and what I want to do with my life. One thing is for sure I will continue to travel and if you have the chance to study abroad for a year, take it!

Typography

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Along with my glass project this semester, I also started taking a typography course. The lessons and projects started quite late into the semester, which is why this is my first post.  For our projects we were focusing on three-dimensional typography which encompasses any type of typography that uses space and isn’t written or flat. We were also given the theme of ‘Mistakes’ and were asked to write an essay on whether we should or shouldn’t make mistakes alongside our 3D typography.

For me I wanted to orientate my work around glass and what I have learnt this year studying the material, so my immediate thoughts were of broken glass and cracks. However, this was quite a simple idea so after a few discussions about how I could use the glass in more inventive ways, I settled on using the transparency of glass to project shadows, making the three dimensional type.

Ironically, the first piece I made actually had mistakes with the lettering, as the layered, sandblasted glass pieces prevented light from shining through. However, in my opinion, this mistake was the piece’s success as it really emulated the message the type was trying to portray. The only improvement I would make to this piece is the font, as it is too neat and clashes with the broken glass.

The pieces I am working on now have a much simpler font which I feel is far more suited to the visual outcome of my project. With these pieces I have spent more of my time experimenting with the shadows the text makes and how I can manipulate them to emphasise the message. Overall, this project has been really interesting and a welcome change from working in the glass studio: Although I am still working with the same material, I have been allowed to explore design avenues I wouldn’t have considered without this course and by having a smaller project alongside my big lighting one, it has kept me creatively inspired and motivated.

Glass Light Developments

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This week, after many sketches and consultations, I have started to make my glass light. Initially I was quite nervous about starting its production as I had to consider how I would light the glass and how I would fit the ‘kopna’ inside the sphere. This meant I had to cut a larger hole in the base of the glass sphere and with the glass being so thick, it took a lot of time and patience.

However, once the hole was made I managed to find the perfect light: a LED camping  light, and then start on the lights surface decoration. For this I decided I would sandblast parts of the glass, basing the shapes loosely on multiplying cells. By doing this, I would create variations in the light shining through the glass and with the ‘kopna’ glued inside, the clear parts of the sphere would act as windows into the piece. Below is the finished sandblasted decoration.

Final Project Lighting Desgin

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Since I left Novy Bor, my designs for my final light piece have changed quite dramatically, my tutors felt I should be working on a larger scale and to not let the forms I had already created restrict my ideas. So After two weeks of sketching and talking with my tutors I have come up with my Final design.

It will be a large single light that shall have sandblasted areas on its exterior and inside the sphere will be organic glass forms. In Czech these are called ‘Kopna’ and are usually the waste part in Glass blowing, however in my final piece they will be displayed as something beautiful. My inspiration originally came from Glass artist Luke Jerram, who made large scale glass sculptures of Virus cells.

Luke’s use of detail and cell imagery has inspired my own work and I have tried to replicate the essence and movement of how a bacteria can spread: I have focused more on the sporadic placement and movement of my pieces rather than the accuracy of a particular bacteria. I also wanted to create intrigue within my piece and as I am working with glass I wanted to play with the levels of light, which is why the exterior is sandblasted. This  allows some parts to have a subtle glow whilst other clearer parts act as a viewpoint into the world within.

Čarodějnice’ – the annual witch-burning festival- April 30th

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On the 30th of April in the Czech Republic and other surrounding countries, people gather together to build a bonfire and ceremonially bring winter to an end by burning a witch made from wood and straw. This is one the the Czech Republics ancient traditions, sourced from the Pagan and Celtic religions and it is celebrated by all kinds of people and age groups.

For me it was a combination of Erasmus and Czech Students, which was a brilliant combination as many countries have a similar type of celebration and we managed to celebrate them all together. Unfortunately we did not burn the witch, but we did build one. We also cooked some food, drank some beer and some of the more daring individuals danced round and jumped through the fire whilst other’s put on a display of fire dancing and breathing…..Which I also had a go at! Sadly I didn’t get a photo taken but overall the night was brilliant and at 28 degrees Celsius, I’m pretty sure we have scared away winter! 😀

Finishing work at Novy Bor

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So my month working at Ajeto Glass factory in Novy Bor is over…..and what an experience! This month has been one of the best months of my life! The experience has been invaluable and I hope I can return there some day. This post will be cover what I did in my last week and it also includes some additional photos.

These Photos are of the Ajeto hotshop factory building with wall logo and the Tourist restaurant/hot shop which I worked in most days.

During the last week at Ajeto, I assisted and studied my co-workers producing some beautiful vases. We were blowing glass into textured moulds and then using a layer of colour to fill the imprints to create a coloured pattern. As you can see from the picture below, many of the moulds had geometric patterns which I felt were very effective and beautiful with the choice of colours.

Also for half the week, I assisted the glass-blowers in the large hotshop, working on commissions for artists and companies. Usually these pieces can range from very functional to artistic with a minimal function and the opportunity to watch the creation of these pieces is very inspiring.

One particular artist I was drawn to was Lithuanian and his work comprised of casting glass into different moulds. This process is called molten glass casting and I have worked with this techniques once, using sand. What was so intriguing about this artist’s work was that he was casting onto soil (creating a finer texture like sand) and burning wood. By starting to burn the wood and then placing hot glass onto it, the heat of the glass continues to burn the wood and as the glass cools, it takes an imprint of the remains of the wood. This was really inspirational as I felt I could practice this back in England at my studio and the results could become beautiful jewellery pieces. There is also a lot of room for experimentation, using different woods and materials. Above you can see the artist’s piece attaching the wood cast glass.

With regards to my university work, I had a lot more time to consider additional pieces I could make that could be combined with the UFO form. As I was considering different types of vessels (bowls, drink ware) I decided to design a bowl that could be used for this function but also fit a UFO as a portable light. I am also considering building a handle/stand for the piece to give it a third function. I am very happy with this piece because although it appears simple at this point, it’s simplicity and beauty will give me the space to expand my designs around it.

I also had the opportunity to produce a lid from a commission we were working on for a SAAB company. It was perfect as my skills have improved enough so I could make the piece myself and that it would create another functional, but different piece for my lighting set.

I have also included this picture as it relates to the first ‘Fish/tea light, commission I had in the first week. Although the angles of the eyes and tail are a bit wrong, I made this piece myself 🙂 and I look forward to finishing off the base.

My last day was spent at the Novy Bor Glass school, which I found out about from a new Couch surfing friend who lives in Novy Bor. Luckily enough I was invited along to practice for the day and try out the facilities. I have to say, it was was superb! I wish I could study at this school as it offered lessons in Glass blowing, engraving, fusing, glass painting, cutting and stained glass, as well as the study of glass history.

Above you can see my first test tile in the cutting glass studio, which I think produces beautiful results! and Below is me practising in the glass blowing studio. That day I learnt how to make a bird and the last picture is of the second bird I made that day. Not bad 🙂