Art, reviews and thoughts from a young artist in Plymouth, UK.

Posts tagged ‘Glass’

Emerging Natural Beauty exhibition at Ocean Studios

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Today I went to the Ocean Studios gallery to see the exhibition Emerging Natural Beauty which is part of the Home Grown series of pop up exhibitions by local artists.

Alice and Bethany Antliff are sisters who are studying 3D Design Craft, specialising in ceramics and glass, at Plymouth College of Art. Both artists’ work takes inspiration from nature. From a distance Bethany’s piece Symbiotic Beauty looked like real twigs covered in blossoms and moss, but up close I could see her detailed work with porcelain and glazes wrapped around wire. It is pretty and fragile and stepping back again I thought that each branch looked like a dancing figure.

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Bethany’s Charred Bark vases are incredibly realistic and it’s hard to believe they were created and not grown. She has created ceramic bowls using the same colours and shades that seem as if they are ancient finds.

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Several of Bethany’s pieces feature mushroom shaped glass which appear to be growing out of them. I really like Bethany’s work which made me feel very calm.

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Alice’s pieces are incredibly fragile and delicate. Her Daisies Daisies Daisies collection are porcelain vases, bowls, and decorative pieces which have been ‘wallpapered’ with tiny porcelain daisies. She creates the daisies from a mould made using real flowers, then hand applies them individually so the entire piece is covered in overlapping flowers.

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Alice’s piece Destruction is inspired by deforestation. This piece made me feel sad and is a really effective statement about this issue.

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Alice has also created delicate flower-shaped jewellery and I really liked her intricate earrings and how she has displayed them.

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Renovat Moody is an African born artist also studying 3D Design Crafts, specialising in glass blowing, at PCA and is influenced by nature and their African heritage. Renovat’s The Essence of Africa vase collection have strong and bright colours and shapes and made me think of fruit and seeds.

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Renovat also has some framed pieces on display, including a copper wire piece that has been twined and threaded with beads. This piece looks like a tree covered in colourful birds.

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One of my favourite pieces on display was Renovat’s framed picture of the world where all the land is made of computer chips and circuitboard. The piece is put together so carefully and accurately, and even tiny islands are marked out. I could look at this and follow the coastlines for hours with my eyes and i’d love to see a bigger piece made the same way.

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The three artists completely filled every corner of the exhibition space and it’s amazing to consider how much work these students have created already! On display was also projected footage Behind the Scenes of their work in progress by Emma Pontin, and a film called Ink Flows by Jake Davey, Matthew Howard, Nat Goddard, Kristin Dodge, and Terry Lee Thurlow. Their films provided a relaxing soundtrack to the whole exhibition.

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Finally there were some pieces on display and up for auction to raise money for the Devon Wildlife Trust. I really liked Jane McEwen’s bowls with endearing messages stamped into them.

The new exhibition at Ocean Studios Gallery will open on Wednesday.

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The House of Marbles

Yesterday I went to the House of Marbles in Bovey Tracey with my local home-ed group.  The House of Marbles has galleries of marbles and old pottery, a glass shop filled with artwork made in the building’s own glass-making workshop, and giant marble runs.

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Curriculum Vitae marble run by Alex Schmid

The marble runs by Alex Schmid are hypnotic to watch.  My favourite is Curriculum Vitae.  The marbles are lifted to the top of the run by a chain then let go on to the track.  I counted at least five different routes the balls could follow, including loop-the-loops, staircases, and counterweight trebuchets.  The marble runs are all made of thick wire welded together and the name of the piece, the year it was built and Alex Schmid’s initials are spelled out in the metal body of the marble runs.

Upstairs there is an enormous marble run, the biggest in the UK, called Snooki.  This one uses snooker balls and includes staircases, trebuchets, and a Newton’s Cradle.  There are also sections where you can’t see the ball but can hear it whirring round a funnel or rolling down inside a pipe, it is exciting waiting for the balls to reappear from these parts

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Some of the marbles on display.  I like the eyeballs and the printed designs.

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I really like the glittery swirls on the left of this picture.  They remind me of ocean waves.

The marbles gallery contains hundreds and hundreds of marbles and there is a lot of information about the different types, materials, and the methods of making them.  I learned that people have been collecting and playing with marbles for centuries and that they have been made from clay, steel, stone, glass, and precious rocks.  There are several different types of marbles, including Clambroth (striped swirls on creamy background), End of Day (made with “grits” which are leftover bits of glass), Sulphides (a clear marble with a clay figure in the centre), and Clears and Opaques (single colours).  Some of the materials used to colour glass marbles include Gold, Copper, Cobalt, Silver, and Uranium and the swirls and spirals inside some marbles are made using coloured glass canes.

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Tiny glass animals made in the House of Marbles glass workshop.

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Watching glass birds being made by glassmakers in the glass workshop.

The shop selling Teign Valley Glass has tons and tons of beautiful pieces of art made out of glass.  There are glass apples, birds, vases, and glass bowls that look like sea foam and waves.  Each piece is made right there in the workshop and is a unique object, and the whole room is full of colour.

There were glassmakers making small glass birds while we were there, and we watched them work for ages.  First, one glassmaker would put a glob of glass onto the end of a large metal rod and heat the glass up in the pot furnace until it was glowing orange.  He then rolled it in coloured powdered glass, then fused it all together in the pot furnace again.  He did this several times with two different colours.  Next, he used a pad of wet newspaper to shape the glass into the bird’s body.  He then took a pair of tweezers to stretch out a bit of the glass to make the bird’s tail.  Finally, he spun it around a few more times in the pot furnace and used the tweezers again to pull a smaller part of the glass out to make the bird’s beak.  The process was mesmerising to watch and it made me think about how much effort and time is put into making glass art by hand.

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“Do what you can, Being what you are, Shine like a glow worm, If you can’t be a star”

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“K stands for Kindness”

In another room at the House of Marbles is an exhibition showing the history of the Bovey Potteries.  The first thing I saw was a scale model of the potteries as they used to be.  All around it are cases full of pottery that was made there or found nearby.  There are a lot of different types of pots and cups with inspirational messages written on them, and little clay figurines.  Much of the crockery is decorated with detailed and pretty patterns, and I’ve taken pictures of these so I can experiment with the patterns at another time.  There is a lot of information on cards throughout the room, and a short video about the potteries’ history.

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I really liked this clay diorama of a person making pottery in a clay oven.

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A cat produced by Wemyss Ware.  I love how it has a cute but slightly creepy look.

The House of Marbles was fascinating and seeing all the different kinds of artwork has definitely given me some inspiration, and I haven’t even seen everything that’s in there yet!  There is a whole section on board games that I didn’t have time to explore.  Hopefully I’ll be able to visit again sometime soon, and I recommend a visit to anyone interested in marble runs or local history.

Glass Fusing Workshop

On the 30th of November I attended a glass fusing workshop hosted by Sheena Hallybone from PaperCutzGlass with my mum and a few friends.  Glass fusing is a technique used to make a piece of art by arranging, gluing, and then fusing pieces of glass together at a high temperature in a kiln.

Sheena demonstrated how to use the tools and what they are called.  There were three tools:

  • A Glass Cutter makes a mark on the glass for the Running Pliers.  The line can be straight, wavy or curved.
  • Running Pliers snap the glass along the mark the Glass Cutter has made.
  • Grozing Pliers, or ‘Nibblers’, are used to take small corners off and chip away at the glass.

We were given a small square of clear glass each to practice using the tools on, and after we finished practicing Sheena explained that we would have a large piece of clear glass each to arrange our coloured pieces on, which could be divided in different ways to make coasters, candle screens, long suncatchers or shorter tree decorations.  She also showed us some of the art she made and what other people had made before in the workshop.  I chose to make a coaster and 2 sun catchers.

I decided to make a Zelda-themed sun catcher first.  I planned it out on paper first then chose what colour glass to use for it.  It is decorated with three Ocarina of Time style fairies.  I took too long to make this one because making circles is a complicated process of first cutting squares, marking and cutting off corners, then nibbling around the corners to round them off.  This meant I didn’t have much time left to make my other two glass fusing pieces.  I do think it looks really good and so I’m glad I spent time getting it right.

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Sun catcher inspired by the fairies in Zelda.

For my other sun-catcher I used scrap pieces of glass organized by colour to make rainbow stripes.  I was inspired to make this by some of Sheena’s rainbow style suncatchers that were hanging up around us.  I used black frits (small granules of glass) to decorate the background.

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Rainbow stripes sun catcher

My coaster is also Zelda-themed and shows a Triforce.  I used triangles of paper to cover the area I wanted to leave transparent and sprinkled multicoloured frits and leftover small shards of glass over a layer of glue, then took the paper away.  This didn’t take long to do and gives a really pretty effect.

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Zelda-themed coaster. The clear spaces are in the shape of the Triforce.

We had to leave our pieces with Sheena so she could fire them in her kiln (there are photos of some of the unfired pieces at the bottom of this post).  She added hooks to them so I can hang them up.  Yesterday we were able to pick them up from her shop in Plymouth City Market.  They were wrapped carefully in bubble wrap and I was really excited to open them up.  I had tons of fun during the workshop and I’m really happy with how my fused glass pieces turned out.  I would recommend the workshop to any creative people and hope to do it again sometime.

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