I have added a new gallery section to my site – Paintings.
Experimenting with acrylic pouring is something I have recently started to do. With this technique, no paintbrushes are used. It’s fun to combine colours, pour the paint onto the canvas and tilt the canvas around so the paint flows and creates different effects. Even when I use the same colour combinations on a new canvas, the results can be completely different.
I’m looking forward to offering my new paintings for sale at the my next event – the Tasmanian Craft Fair. I also have a small selection available at Works of Art in Kyneton.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog so I thought I’d invite you into my studio. I live on a hill and my studio is located under the main part of the house, with two large windows that provide ample light. It’s only on the darkest of days that I need any lights on. I had to work inside a dark cold garage at a previous house so this is a luxury.
My studio is divided into two sections: my fused glass area and my lampworking area. With my fusing area, I have two work benches where I cut glass and lay it out into patterns straight onto a moveable kiln shelf.
There’s storage under each bench, as well as the kiln table. I also have a rack behind one of the benches which holds my molds and lots of jars of frit (crushed glass) in different colours and sizes. It doesn’t matter how much storage I have, I still seem to need more.
My benches tend towards very messy. Occasionally I’ll clean up my benches, taking off all the scrap glass etc, which isn’t easy or enjoyable. Despite my efforts, the benches don’t stay clean for long. Someone once told me that a messy work area is a sign of a messy mind. I disagree. I think a messy bench is a sign of a creative mind. Often it is the scraps of glass laying around that trigger ideas for new projects.
Here’s my kiln. It sits in the corner on a metal table. I’ve just finished a slumping cycle and the pieces are ready to be taken out of the kiln to be cleaned. I actually slumped two items at the same time. There is the large bowl that you can see clearly. Below it, there’s a small square plate. The largest item I can make is 40cm square and I can load two kiln shelves in there when I’m fusing pieces (the step you do before slumping where all the glass is melting into one piece).
Whilst there are many larger kilns available, this one suits my needs. I did have to get an electrician to install a special powerpoint for the kiln. I’m thankful that I don’t need three phase power. The bottom shelf of my kiln actually pulls out a fair bit so I can load the kiln quite easily without anything getting in the way. This is the first kiln I bought and I’ve had it for over 10 years. I did buy myself another kiln last year but that one is specifically for lampworking.
The other part of my studio is my lampworking area where I make glass beads. Everything I need to work with is within arms length. I deliberately placed the bench away from direct sunlight as sometimes when light streams in a window, I can’t see the flame. If I can’t see the flame, then I don’t know where to work. Where I hold the glass and mandrel (metal rod on which the bead is made) in the flame is very important. Depending on what type of detail I’m adding to a bead will determine the position within the flame. If I hold the bead directly in the centre of the flame when I’m adding fine detail, the glass will melt too quickly and ruin the design.
You can see my blue lampworking kiln in the foreground of the above photo with mandrels poking out of the kiln. There are two little flaps on this type of kiln. When I finish making a bead, the hot bead goes straight into the kiln. The flap is quickly lifted and I then place the hot bead into the hot kiln to anneal (strengthen) it.
I love my studio and have spent many hours there.
I haven’t painted a picture in years. It’s not something I have spent a lot of time doing so my efforts aren’t very good. I even paint rooms badly. However, I was browsing Facebook recently and an ad for a painting workshop popped up in my feed. I just loved the use of colours within the ad – they seemed to be calling me. One of the key points that was stressed in the workshop blurb was that you didn’t need any painting experience. The workshop ran over a Saturday and Sunday but was about 2 1/2 hours drive away. I booked in anyway. I stayed with my daughter on the Saturday evening to cut an hour off driving time.
The tutor, Susan, was lovely. Some of her artwork was displayed around the art room we used. Susan’s paintings in real life are vivid, full of colour with lots of layers coming through.
A canvas had been provided on each of the workspaces. I was a bit surprised by the size – 30 inches square. I did wonder whether I would be able to fill the canvas with anything meaningful.
Using acrylic paints, I finger painted the first layer. It was quite liberating to just smear the canvas with my fingers. It didn’t matter what I did, just that I did something. Mind you, my eyes were closed whilst finger painting. I guess this was to just let you go with the flow. Susan stressed several times that we weren’t to get too caught up in the result of each layer as the painting would evolve through each layer.
As there were many different layers to complete in a limited timeframe, you can’t put another layer of paint onto wet paint as it will smudge, I used my hair dryer to dry any wet paint. My hair dryer, which has lain dormant in my cupboard for years, came in handy. Good thing I didn’t throw it out.
More layers were added to the canvas using different styles, words were also incorporated. One of the other layers also involved using your fingers. At the end of it, I had lovely, colourful fingernails, almost as if I’d been for a bad manicure. I also really enjoyed mixing colours of paint together. With glass, you can’t mix the colours in the same manner. I found it quite liberating. After each layer, the hair dryer came out once again. There is no right or wrong method, you just play with the paint.
At the end of the second day, my painting was almost complete. I took pictures of each stage as I went as a record for future paintings. Whilst my painting isn’t perfect, I’m very happy with the result. All the paintings in the workshop looked great. For a few of the participants, it was their second time round.
Now I need to buy a few painting supplies so I can continue working with these beautiful colours at home. When 2017 started, I never imagined I would do this type of workshop. Workshops I usually attend are glass related. No, I’m not giving up my glass art – I love that too much. I just need to express myself in a different way sometimes.
Every year, I participate as an exhibitor in the BSV’s Melbourne Bead Expo. In previous years, the Bead Expo has been held in Moorabbin. This year, it was held at Box Hill Tafe. I really liked the new venue as it had wonderful natural light and felt light and airy. Unfortunately the Tafe is restructuring early next year and the space we used is being turned into offices. The hunt is on for a new venue.
As a member of the Bead Society, I’m entitled to enter their beading competitions. For the first time, I decided to enter their handmade competition where you can make handmade beads in any medium (being a lampworker, of course my medium of choice was glass). This year the theme for a single bead was ‘Oceans’ and the theme for a set of five beads was ‘Astronomy’. Many of the entries in other categories featured exquisite work using seed beads. I really admire the dedication and creativity the seed beaders put into their work.
Winners for all the competition categories are announced on the Friday. As the names were called, I was pleasantly surprised to hear my own. I had won the ‘Ocean’ bead category! All of my entry pieces sold over the course of the expo. I also received some wonderful compliments from visitors to the expo.
Naturally I left making my lampwork beads to the last minute so was in a hurry to post my entries to the expo organisers. I never expected to do so well so I only took quick snapshots that aren’t very good but you can still get the idea of what the beads looked like from the photos. I’ll means sure to take better photos next time.
I can’t wait until next year. I wonder what the themes will be?
The annual Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo is in it’s 139th year (15 years in Bendigo) and is the largest event of it’s type in the world. With a reputation like that I’ve been intending to visit for years but have never made it. Last Friday, I joined two friends, Michelle and Carole, to spend a wonderful day wandering around, not to mention shopping.
Both of my friends have visited the show in previous years and it was their recommendation that we go on the Friday for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the show gets very busy on the weekend. There were plenty of people around on the Friday but we were still able to see everything without rudely elbowing or way through. The other reason was that some vendors run low on stock towards the end of the weekend. If you’re looking for a particular item or colour, visiting on the Friday is the way to go.
The first hall we entered hosted a fashion parade twice a day. The morning and afternoon fashion parades are different. We found seats which offered a good view of the runway and armed ourselves with coffee. What we hadn’t bargained for was women edging around our seating and virtually standing in front of us. By wriggling a bit, we did manage to see most of the parade. This year’s theme for the parade was May Gibbs so there were lots of gum nut inspired creations.
After the parade, we moved from colourful stall to colourful stall admiring the beautiful tops, rovings, batts (all used for spinning or felting), yarn and equipment. You could argue that I have plenty of alpaca fleece at home just waiting to be washed, carded, spun, perhaps dyed and knitted. And I do have lots of fleece. But the were so many gorgeous colours that I couldn’t resist! It was hard to stop with what I did purchase. A couple of items are ready to knit but the rest needs spinning or felting.
There were plenty of food stalls for lunch which was eaten sitting on hay bales. After lunch, more halls/marquees awaited. Finally we’d browsed everything we wanted to see and i was surprised to find that it was spot on 5pm! And we didn’t even visit the sheep!
Each year, I usually go to the Craft and Quilt Show at Jeff’s Shed in Melbourne. This year, I don’t need to go. The wool show met my every need. I had a wonderful time as it was more geared to what I’m interested in. Going with two friends made the day even more enjoyable. Whoever said that knitting is dead, hasn’t visited this wool show. Knitting (felting etc) is very much alive and well. I’ll definitely go back to the show next year.