Novy Bor update!

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Right, so it has now been three weeks since I moved to Novy Bor and started work at Ajeto. Things are going really well and my glass blowing is improving a lot ūüôā This week we started by making flowers, this was very tricky to master but eventually I could produce a reasonable looking flower, although ¬†I need a lot more practice. My co-workers also showed me more advanced flower pieces they made at Ajeto and the end result was very impressive! Below is Martin making a rose and Sunflower.

Also these last two weeks I have been practising blowing into wooden forms. These are used a lot in the mass production of hand blown forms and of course it takes a lot of practise to perfect it, however, by the end of the second week I could make some small glasses which have now become a part of my university work for Usti. Below is a picture of the forms I made completely on my own! and the second is with help from my co-workers. I have also included some pictures of the first glass rings I made.

With regards to my university work I have been very busy. I chose a unique form that Ajeto had the mould for and I have developed it into my multi-functional glass designs. So far I am really happy with the results and I look forward to bringing the pieces back to Usti to finish off. The intention is to cut the forms at different levels and stack them together, making lights at different heights. I also plan to include ceramics and perhaps woodwork into my final pieces. The pictures below are of my digital designs and hand blown forms, some of which I made myself ūüôā

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Living in Novy Bor (First two weeks)

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Well it has been two weeks since I moved to Novy Bor and finally today we had some lovely weather, so I took the opportunity to take some photos of the town I‚Äôm living in ūüôā¬†Here is one of the central areas of Novy Bor and as you can see by the Sculpture in the centre of the round-about, the whole town ¬†has glass decorations, denoting it’s reputation with glass blowing.

Also in the same area is the church, it’s not open to tourists but it is a very handy landmark when you get lost ūüėČ

One great thing about Novy Bor  is that it is situated in the forest, so the surrounding landscapes are beautiful, with many walks and gorgeous scenery. Here is a picture of the park.

Whilst I have been in Novy Bor I have contacted some students also living there and they have shown me around the town and it has been a lot of fun. On Thursday I went for a walk on the outskirts of Novy Bor and the scenery was amazing. It’s such a contrast from Usti nad labem and England, with hills and woodland.

The town itself also has a lot of glass shops, galleries and studios. Recently at Ajeto in Lindava, I met one artist JiŇô√≠¬†Pańćinek¬†¬†who has a gallery in Novy Bor and a studio near Lindava.

http://www.pacinekglass.com/pagesen/cv-en.html

There is also the glass school, which I live very close to and luckily enough I know one girl studying there who is planning to take me there some day soon so I can see the facilities, meet more students and teachers and hopefully have some more glassblowing practice.

Starting work at Ajeto.

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This week has been¬†particularly¬†busy as I started my month’s work experience at Ajeto Glass factory in Lindava.

Ajeto is a Glass blowing factory which specialises in hand crafted individual pieces, produced at an industrious and almost mass produced scale. Opened in 1994, it wasn’t long until the factory became very popular with the locals and tourists. As a result of this another, smaller factory and¬†restaurant¬†were opened in Novy Bor in 1997 and in 2008 a barn was converted into a¬†restaurant/tourist demonstration studio to join the larger factory in Lindava. ¬†http://www.ajetoglass.com/en/

Here are some pictures of where I have been (and will continue to be) working. I am very excited about this opportunity as the chance to study with professional glass blowers, assisting them whilst also having the chance to practice for free, would be very unlikely in England.

The first week at Ajeto went very well. I started by working in the smaller studio assisting two glassblowers with a Fish/Tealight holder commission. As you can see from the pictures, the object when facing upwards resembles a fish, but once turned over, with the excess glass removed, it becomes a stand for a candle.

At first I was just sitting a watching them work, learning the techniques and use of tools. However, by the end of the day they were letting me have a go! ¬†Unfortunately, my attempts were unsuccessful, but it was a lot of fun and it felt amazing to be back working with glass ūüôā

In the next few days, I was working in the larger factory. This was rather daunting as I was around so many brilliant glass blowers who were producing pieces bigger than my head…

Still, all of the workers were lovely and soon enough I was busy working, making glass tablets that had colours and images imprinted into them. The actual process itself uses the molten glass from the furnace but does not involve blowing. Instead the glass it poured into a steel ring and brass stamps are pushed in as it cools. In some ways this was a gentle introduction into the larger factory as it was very hot  in comparison to the furnace in the smaller studio or to any I have seen in England. Therefore, I was given the chance to grow accustomed to the heat and atmosphere.

During the rest of the week I continued to work in the small studio and the larger factory, working on the same commission and bulking up other supplies for objects that would be sold in the shop. These included, vases, beer glasses, sweets and jugs. Also, as it is nearing Easter, a lot of our pieces were themed that way: From Eggs, to Easter canes and  bunny imprints into the glass tablets.

Due to the Easter theme, we also had a lot of visitors who wanted their own personalised glass gift. These could vary in colour  or pattern as we had a wide range of textured moulds and coloured frits to choose from. Needless to say this kept me and the two men I was assisting very busy, but it also gave me the opportunity to practice making these objects myself. So, at the end of the week, I have successfully made two hollow Easter eggs, two glass sweets and three fish/candle holders! I have posted pictures of the most successful pieces below, unfortunately the fish/candle holders still need a lot of work so keep yours eyes open for my next couple of updates!

Visit to Prague 30th March 2012

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My most recent visit toPraguewas really enjoyable as I discovered some new places I have never been to. This included visiting a glass store adjoining the cubist famous building ‘ House of the Black Madonna’-¬†was designed and built between 1911 and 1912 on the corner of Celetn√° Street and Ovocn√Ĺ trh by Josef Gońć√°r.

This was particularly interesting as I discovered some work that could be sources of inspiration for my current project. These pieces were all multi functional, varying from pieces that slotted into each other and ones that were simply turned upside down. This has taught me that I must focus on the overall form  of all the pieces together and that the final piece does not need to be really complex, but still efficient and successful in both it’s functions.

I also went toPrague’s Radio tower which is a very unique building with platforms offering a beautiful and endless view of Prague.

Another brilliant place I visited was an office block designed by Frank O‚ÄôGehry and¬†Vladimir Milunic in¬†in 1992 and completed in 1996. It is nicknamed the ‘dancing house’ or ‘Ginger and Fred’ (Czech:Tanńć√≠c√≠ dŇĮm)

As Easter is only round the corner, I thought I would share a photo of one of the decorations in Prague‚Äôs old square. Pretty awesome ūüôā

Catch Up!

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Hey Everyone!

I just thought I would post a catch up of what I have been up to in Usti since I started the new semester. I am still working on my light, which is looking really good and I am excited about the final result. Other activities I have been up to include¬†snowboarding, ¬†before the winter snow melted,¬†I¬†set myself the task of learning to snowboard.¬†Unfortunately¬†the season ended before I was successful but I had a lot of fun learning and didn’t break anything! Here’s a picture from one of the videos that were taken.

Since the snow melted, I have  been spending a lot of time with the new erasmus students and we have been on several lovely trips.

This included the waterfall across the river Labe in  Usti, behind Vetruse Castle. This was a reasonably far walk but the waterfall was beautiful, more impressive than the last two I had seen.

Recently, the weather has been really warm and sunny, so last Sunday, we all went for a barbecue up a hill just behind the dormitories. The perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Final Project Semester 2011/12

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Since I have been back in Usti nad Labem, everyone has been very busy finishing off their projects for the end of the semester exhibition. For me, my project was based upon the perception of photographs and how they can be manipulated through editing, layers and applying them to glass. I produced two final pieces, one as a layered landscape of the dormitories I am staying in and the other comprising of 8 glass tiles that can be moved around to create different landscapes; this piece sourced four images, from Prague, Usti nad Labem, Milton Keynes and my Home town.

Overall the exhibition was very successful and I loved seeing all the other final pieces, some of which were very beautiful and inspiring. For the next project I hope to work more with molten and cast glass forms.

Finished Recycled Glassware

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After many weeks of hard work, I have finished my ‘Recycled Domestic Glassware’ project. The project itself was to focus on particular domestic objects that I could reproduce using recycled glass as a response to the research I have conducted into Czech DIY and it’s overall reputation in Glass.
The pair of wine glasses you see below were one of the most enjoyable aspects of this project as I perfected my cold working skills whilst producing designs using previous glass forms. In my opinion the combination of glass bottles used are very effective and function as real wine glasses!

Along with the domestic dinnerware objects, I also aimed to create some utensils. Now I had a fair amount of problems with these as I initially planned to cast the handles. However, the recycled glass had too many incompatibility issues so once i returned home I set about melting a shaping the bottle glass using my lampworking torch.
This has also taught me a lot about the glass I work with. Bottle glass has a completely different COE and takes a lot longer to heat up and work with. I was also restricted by the incompatibility issues making colours singular and the application far from delicate. Not only has this part of the project taught me so much technically but I am very pleased with the overall results as the simple beads still managed to appear delicate and decorative on the utensils.

There has been one huge success within my recycled project and that is the jewellery section. This is because I was successful at casting different glass bottles and somehow avoiding the incompatibility issues! Unfortunately, I am unable to explain at present why and how I was successful, but once I return to Usti, I plan to find out!.
With the blended glass pieces and cold working tools, I was able to smooth and shape the pieces, which have become very beautiful jewellery pieces. I am very happy about them and hope to produce more in the future.