Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that Ever Supportive Partner (ESP) has accompanied me on many jaunts and tried his hand at a few textile ventures, such as dyeing with safflowers at the World Shibori Network conference in Oaxaca in 2016.
So now it was payback time. ESP has done a couple of glass courses recently and was keen to go to a four-day masterclass at the International Festival of Glass. He suggested I accompany him.
I was a bit concerned at first, as the term “masterclass” usually implies that you need some experience to be able to attend. However, I found a class with Georgia Redpath that looked right up my street, making beautiful geometric moulds for cast glass. So after checking with the organisers that complete beginners were welcome, I booked.
Unsurprisingly, I was the only person in the class with no previous experience of working with glass. But Georgia made me feel very welcome. And her work was as stunning in real life as it was on her website.
When casting glass, it takes time to heat up the glass and then let it cool gradually. This meant that our glass would not be ready to collect until a few days after the end of the class.
So we started with a group exercise, where we each made a couple of small moulds from card. These were then cast together as two group moulds so that we could see the process and the end result during the class.
We each made one mould with a star-shaped base and one with a circular base.
These were grouped together and silicone moulds were made.
Then another mould of investment plaster was cast from the silicone mould.
These plaster moulds are then filled with glass and put in the kiln.
I love the clean geometric lines of Georgia’s work, so I made a small geometric mould as one of my samples.
However, I also wanted to incorporate the work that I do as a fibre artist, so I made a couple of small coiled bowls from some dead lily leaves I found in the hotel garden(!) and a 3D stitched kantha piece. These were cast in Gelflex rubber rather than silicone, as it is more viscous and less likely to seep through holes in the fibres.
Here are the plaster casts of the rubber moulds. It was amazing to see the amount of detail picked up, right down to individual stitches.
We then calculated how much glass was needed to fill the plaster moulds and left them for a couple of days with Georgia to be put in the kiln.
It was very exciting to return a couple of days later to pick up the glass casts. Unfortunately, on one of the bowls I had underestimated how much glass was needed, so there was a small hole in it.
But I’m still pleased with the detail picked up in the glass. And the others were equally detailed – on the stitched piece you can even see the weave of the cotton muslin as well as the individual stitches.
I have limited facilities for coldworking (finishing them off by rubbing down and polishing) but I’m extremely happy with them even as they are.
It was a great workshop, and Georgia is a very enthusiastic and encouraging tutor. It’s made me think more about moulds and negative space and how I might develop this in my work. So thanks to ESP too for pushing me out of my comfort zone!
Georgia’s studio is at the Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge, where you can see lots of other stunning examples of studio glass in the British Glass Biennale, which runs until 28 September 2019.