Saturday, 7 September 2013

New Fusing Workshop Dates

I am now starting to add some new dates to my website, here: Workshop Dates - more to be added later.
And, I am trying something new!  You can now book and pay for your workshop directly through Eventbrite, simply by clicking here:

Saturday, 28th September:
Eventbrite - Glass Fusing Workshop

Sunday, 6th October:
Eventbrite - Glass Fusing Workshop 

Saturday, 27 July 2013

New Post on the New Blog

Just a quick post and run, to remind that I am now starting to use my new blog site....

The New Blog Page

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Fossil Walls...

For the last six weeks, I've been working in various primary schools in the local area.

We've been making 'fossil walls' - a process that I happened upon almost accidentally that gave some rather surprising and lovely results - modern day (or any) objects, cast, and because of the sand used in the process, I thought they looked like fossils.

Each school chose their own designs and ideas.  Some of the schools I went into chose to do individual blocks, where the children brought in items that were important or significant to them; others wanted to leave a 'legacy' for other children coming up through the years with their words of wisdom (quite interesting choices from 10 year olds!).  We also have done some plaques on based on areas of the curriculum, as well as designs based on school logos and mottos.

In all schools, the children actually got very involved with the making - from deciding what went into each design, to piling sand into containers and finding objects to insert.  There's some of the more technical and Health and Safety stuff I've had to do myself of course, but I've tried to let the children participate as much as possible - this is their work.  Oh, and in most schools, I've had some lovely able helpers at the end of each day to tidy up.

It's been great fun, if hard work; the children have been a delight with their wit, intelligence, creative thinking, helpfulness and politeness.

Here's a couple of examples below.   I am looking forward to them all being dried out enough to seal and getting them installed to decorate all the school spaces (even if that's more work for me!)

Curriculum and classroom names

Einstein said...

Inspired by the school logo

What subject?

Words of Wisdom from Year 6

Don't forget, I will be blogging from my new website directly soon, so if you've got following software, don't forget to bookmark it here: New Blog Page

Monday, 8 July 2013

Time For A Fresh New Look

I first created my website back four years ago as part of my final year degree course - I was very proud of it, as it was all hand-coded by me.  It was quick, logical and worked well.

But... adding new photos was not always so easy, so I've been re-developing my site in the 'background' for months now.  And it has been almost ready for ages too, just waiting for those final tweaks.

This weekend, I decided it was now or never, and launched the new look.  There are still a few areas that need filling out, but maybe now it's live I will actually do that!  You can still click  through to the new look site using the links at the left - it is still at the same web address.  You might need to refresh your page if you've visited the old site before, it might have it in your 'cache' - on Windows, it's 'CTRL+F5'.

There is a blog page within the actual site, which for now, has just got all the previous posts from this blog imported - but soon I will be writing new blog posts within the website, rather than separately so if you use any form of following software (or indeed you link to my blog on your own website/blog) you might want to add the new page to your RSS/feed reader now for when that gets under way:


Hope you like the new site, and I do hope you will carry on following my random and somewhat intermittent lately (!) blog posts in future

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Wow, what a difference colour makes!

I recently posted a couple of photograms that I'd started with my AA2A research.

So, I did a couple of sessions in black and white before Chris, the technician showed me how to do colour printing (well, technically, didn't show me, as unlike with B&W where you can expose and print using the red safe-light, with colour you have to work in complete darkness as anything you can see, the paper can see.  As you can imagine, its not exactly easy lining stuff up, fumbling around and getting the exposed paper into the print developer doodah thingy, which has to be the right way up....

I've absolutely loved exploring the photo-grams, and really wish I could do more.  Have so many ideas on how it could be expanded further, by using different combinations of glass, whether that be shape, pattern or colour, but also would love to explore scale.

Alas, I ran out of time, and we have our exhibition opening next week, so I've had to bite the bullet and work with what I have already got.  I won't show you everything just yet, as there's an exhibition at the University of Derby for that purpose, but here's a few of my favourites (including a couple more B&W for interest!)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Metal Ages.... and it has been ages!!

If there's an award for bad blogger of the year, I think I would certainly be in the running!

There's been so much going off.   In March, Gavin and myself did some workshops in schools - this produced some fantastic work, including glass, metal embossing and casting - hopefully I can show you some of the work at a later point.  Who cares about chronological order?

I managed to get a few more sessions in at university doing photograms, and I was very sad when this came to an end - I feel like I've still got so much more to explore, but I need access to the darkrooms to be able to develop (hahaha) this further.  Do you think they'd notice if I just wandered in.... we've got the AA2A exhibition soon, I have to be ready by the end of next week.

We held the spring Open Studios at Shed 2 as part of Derbyshire Open Arts.  I managed to squeeze in a visit to Chelsea 100th Flower Show to help Rachel Carter - unfortunately, I didn't get a lot of chance to look round as it rained. And rained again.   And rained some more.  You get the idea.

However, I was very excited last week that we were able to install the first Metal Ages sculpture at the King George Gallery.  That's the Royal "we" - as in Gavin and his builder dug holes, heaved the thing around, and poured in post-crete, whilst I stood on the side-lines saying left a bit, right a bit and taking photographs.

I think it looks amazing.  I love the combination of new glass and old metal.  I love what Gavin has done with the found objects from the Stanton site, combined with donated tools from our walks and meets we did way back in February and March.

Anyway, here it is - the second sculpture should be installed fairly soon, more on that later!

An overview - slightly over exposed, but had to show you the beautiful settings:

The beautiful King George Gallery building

My glass element

Found metal objects from Stanton Ironworks

Donated tools from former workers

The glass set into the Stanton Arrow


Friday, 10 May 2013

A New Way of Looking at Glass

Last autumn, I got accepted on to the AA2A Scheme at the University of Derby.  It's a residency programme, offered to several practising artists/makers over a range of educational establishments.  It's intended to help take time develop ideas and to offer the opportunity to use facilities we might not usually get access to.

I became eligible to apply last year and got accepted for a place on the scheme. Unfortunately, a few things happened in my personal life which meant I struggled to find the time to spend on the project (involvement means spending a certain amount of time on-site and being visible to and accessible for students), but finally about a month ago, I was able to spend a bit of time on it at last.

I'd wanted to explore new ways of 'seeing' glass, which fascinates me in all forms - not just because of it's beauty, and it's odd combination of fragility and strength but in other ways too; technically, it's an incrediblly versatile material which can be used for an amazing array of applications, and it can look so different - of course, quite often, with glass, it's about what we can see through it and what can or can't get through it - heat, light.

I used to do a lot of photography and used to enjoy developing my own films and printing from my  negatives.  Of course with the digital age, I don't go in the dark room any longer, so having the opportunity to use the facilities at the university was too good to pass up.

Glass does funny things to light - you can't always 'see' what it's doing, but expose traditional photo paper and it reveals where some of that light is actually going (this again appeals to the scientific side of me).

Take this image:

Copper wire and glass photogram

Remembering that this is photographic paper usually used with a negative - so the dark bits are where all light has got through, the lighter bits are where less has got through (still with me??).  Nothing unusual really, this is a round of glass with copper wire wrapped through the middle.  Of course, copper wire is solid, opaque, won't let light through.  But those dots?  They're air bubbles.  The solid white line around the edge - that's the curve of the glass.  These bubbles and curves are distorting (well, refracting) the light in such a way that it's not hitting the development paper.  I think it's fascinating.

Here's another one -you'll probably recognise the style/design, people say it's very 'me' - my textured glass.


There's absolutely loads more I've done - I spent a couple of sessions simply working out which glass works best, out of the different techniques I use for making - just working in black and white paper is fascinating and has endless options.

Just wait until you see what happens in colour...

Monday, 18 February 2013

More on Metal

Those of you who know me personally will know that there's been quite a lot of stuff going on in my personal life lately (that may be a bit of an understatement), which has prevented me from spending much time in the studio or on projects.

But, as the Metal Age project is on a deadline, I've had to pick up the ball again get stuck in.

I managed to get along to another one of the Walking for Health sessions, although I didn't take any photos on the last one, it was far too cold to take the gloves off!  And couple of Saturdays ago, we ran the glass inclusions workshop at the Erewash Musuem, it was the first sunny day of the year so we didn't get lots and lots of visitors - I think people were taking advantage of the first chance to get in the garden.  We met a friendly family, where grandad, like a lot of people in Ilkeston, had worked at Stanton at one time; it was great, he had a lot of stories to tell.

Gavin and I are now working on the plans for the two sculptures, and for what else will be going in the exhibition.  We've also been planning the next workshops at King George Gallery in March - we will be working with students from local schools and colleges in the day, and having open drop-in sessions on the Tuesday evenings.

I'm still playing catch up, so this is a bit of a post-and-run, but I thought I would show you a few photographs of our site visit - current owners, St Gobain, allowed us access to locked up buildings and the old Stanhope Plant - it was fascinating.

I took this photograph after Gavin commented that if you looked down at (extremely thick) layer of black dust on the floor, it was undisturbed apart from our footprints.  It was like virgin snow....
Black Virgin Snow

Something fascinated me about the chains and hooks that we found lying in trolleys around the place.  Not sure this conveys the sheer scale of everything (giant light bulbs, giant oil cans, giant sack trolleys - I felt like one of the Borrowers at times!) - I just liked the pattern of this one:

Dusty Chains

And this last photograph, was just a poignant reminder of the busy times that were once Stanton Ironworks - obviously a countdown until the last day in May 2007, that the last pipe rolled out of the plant - it was written on the inside of the one of the maintenance teams lockers.

The Last Post

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Building Bridges

Last Wednesday, yes, one of those days after we'd already had a considerable snow fall, myself and Gavin went on a walk with the support and guidance of a couple of the Walking for Health leaders, and some of the group members.

Starting at Armstrongs Mill which is near to one of the former train station sites (Ilkeston Junction), we meandered along the canal path, down to Bennerley Viaduct - this is a historically important structure is Grade II Listed and is on the Buildings at Risk Register. Unusual for it's time, it is a wrought iron lattice work structure, when most viaducts were brick built - because of former coal mining in the area, it was subject to a lot of subsidence and it meant the structure was lighter. If you want to read more about the Viaduct, click here - it will take you to the Wikipedia page about it, which is as good a start as any.  Happy history hunting.

Despite the cold air, and crunchy snow underfoot, it was a lovely day for the walk, and the light was simply beautiful.  I opted to take my little camera with me for ease; I do wish I had taken my dSLR as my pocket camera tended to mess up on light settings, but hopefully you can get the idea of how lovely it looked:

Bennerley Viaduct

Well, I didn't actually use the black and white setting here!  The light was not quite as dramatic and stormy as it looks, but if I lighten the image any more, it loses all definition.

It was fascinating for me; despite having lived in the area for most of my life, I don't know that side of Ilkeston all that well, and lost my bearings a couple of times - it was good when I saw recognisable landmarks (to me) such as the Awsworth by-pass.

The walk ended with a cuppa and tea-cake in Armstrongs Mill and a good chat with the walking group.  Hopefully we'll pick up some interesting memories about Stanton, and Cotmanhay, the railways, and so on, but mostly it was a pleasure to make contact with new people; certainly the walk inspired me to want to start sketching again (something I don't do nearly enough of these days); now I actually know how to get down to the viaduct, I will return to with the bigger camera and the sketchbook - this might inspire a whole new body of work!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

And We're Off....

Last Saturday saw the first workshop from myself and Gavid Darby as part of The Metal Age project.  We spent a day at Erewash Museum in Ilkeston hoping to talk to people about working in the local steel industry or memories of railways, etc.

Gavin had a go at doing some manhole rubbings, which was a bit too cold to brave for my liking, so I stayed indoors and invited people to "Design Your Own Manhole Cover".

After sharing a few images of some of the amazing manhole cover designs that you can see, as well as the more mundane, and of course a few of the very prolific Stanton Ironworks designs ( (there's another blog post I can write already), I gave visitors a template and we made a few of our own designs.

Here's a few that were made on the day; it's a fun method that's not too difficult to learn - the key is in finding the right tools to emboss with really!  We advertised it as being suitable for all ages, and a couple of the designs here were done by younger children, as well as adults (who seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids!).

The technique has inspired me to hopefully produce a larger piece that if it turns out well, could feature in the Metal Age Exhibition.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year, New Project...

Well, I should start this post by wishing you a happy new year!

Sorry I haven't blogged for a while.  I've been kinda busy.  During December, I was really busy with the Erewash Festival of Light.  I did lots of workshops in primary schools in the area; I made over 90 decorations for the young ones to decorate, and then I also prepared and helped design/decorate over 185 glass jar lanterns.  That's 185 jars to wash and de-label.  185 names to ensure written on.  185 cable ties to check tight and trim. 185 lengths of twist tie to cut... and a LOT of tissue paper, tracing paper and glass marker pens to prepare.  I must have sounded like some raging alcholic every time I went anywhere with my bags of glass, clinking away.... cheers!

So, that, and a little thing called Christmas was how I saw the tail end of 2012.  But new year, new project, and I am now moving on to the Metal Ages.  This is part of a the two year long Excite Inspire Engage Erewash; inspired by local heritage, and supported by Arts Council England and Erewash Partnership, it will explore different art forms with a series of workshops and exhibitions.

I am collaborating with another Ilkeston based artist, Gavin Darby of Frailloop a sculptor who describes himself as "I am Gavin and I weld things".   Take a look at his website, you will see that in fact, he is so much more - he creates fabulous sculptures which are full of character from bits from cars, machinery and so on.   As well as the workshops we're going to be running, which will involve both metal and glass technniques, casting and bridge building, we are working towards producing two sculptures that will live permanently, one at the King George Gallery and another at Erewash Museum.

We recently took a visit to Magna, a former steel foundry in Rotheram, and will be looking at the former Stanton Ironworks site, Bennerly Viaduct, manhole covers and generally looking at the former thriving steel and iron industry that once was in the Erewash area.

I was really sensible when I sorted my camera out to take with me on the Magna visit.  Put in new batteries, and recharged not one, but two spare sets.  Feeling smug, knowing I wasn't going to run out of 'fire power' I get out my camera, to find it said memory full... so all I could get was a few snaps on the iPhone.... ah well, I have my (metal) memories...