24 Sep 2008

North Lands Creative Glass Masterclass Part One

The following posts are my thoughts on the Masterclass I attended at North Lands Creative Glass in Lybster (15 miles south of Wick in North East Scotland)........

The course started auspiciously with a full rainbow over the studios on the first morning. We had a chance to meet our tutors and fellow course members the evening before at an informal buffett dinner (two courses were running simultaneously, ours in the coldworking room and the other in the Hot shop with Richard Jolley - glass sculptor). After a tour and a Health & Safety talk by the North Lands technician Michael, we got straight on with the course.

April Surgent and Jiri Harcuba worked so well together, they have built a working relationship and friendship since meeting at Pilchuck Glass School. “[Harcuba] has been one of the most influential people in my life,” notes Surgent. “Had I not taken his class, I would not be engraving glass to the extent that I am today.” (from The Bullseye Gallery Website).

They will be exhibiting together at The Bullseye Gallery in 'Traces of Ourselves' October 7 - November 22, 2008 Bullseye Gallery, 300 NW 13th Avenue, Portland, OR,USA 'Emerging American artist April Surgent and Czech engraving master Jiri Harcuba exhibit new cameo-engraved glass works that developed out of their side-by-side exploratory residency at the Bullseye Research & Education Department.'

The course was titled Tradition and Innovation - Harcuba and Surgent have established a unique working relationship in which tradition and innovation combine to create engraved imagery. Their mutual admiration for one another has brought a new spirit to this area of glass making. There will be discussions, demonstrations and hands on sessions during which students will be encouraged to discuss their own ideas and aspirations. The course is based on the sculptural aspects of engraving, intaglio and cameo engraving and painterly qualities achievable by carving on coloured glass. We will also investigate vitreography, printing from engraved glass plates. (North Lands Class Description from website)

The course kept true to its title and aims, I felt that we were encouraged to use the traditional engraving tools in contemporary and experimental ways, mostly encouraged by the ever learning and soon to be 80 Harcuba. We started with Zen Drawings - drawing from our imagination and what we could see around us, without looking at the paper. I haven't done this since an oil painting course many years ago and forgot how liberating it is and how beautiful the lines can be when our conscoius mind is held back for a change.

I continued with the theme of landscape and the changing seasons to begin with but quiet ideas were developed further on in the course.

From the drawings we attempted our first lathe engravings (the smaller blue machines in the pictures). Sketches were made with small battery operated engravers and then onto the diamond wheel lathes.

My first attempt on a lathe....we started the printing side of the course from these slides (quite difficult printing from a 2mm thick slide!), later on in the evening we used the slides to project to monumental size (below is my seed head and Jiris portrait).

We graduated onto to small pieces of float glass (glass in windows). I started to work on a 'baking' theme which has been 'rising' for a while.

My first vitreograph print (printing from glass).....very exciting!. I haven't printed since school and don't remember much about it but really enjoyed this process and feel it can offer my work another dimension (especially with more control over colour use).

In the evening I went out to discover a bit more of Lybster.....


Christine Hester Smith said...

Wha-ay! I didn't know that I really liked glass as a medium that much - I have been converted, want to have a go now.

ajsimmons said...

Hey Christine....the same thing has been said by Hannah....I must be a muddy type of glass girl. I think it's mostly because I use a lot of opaque glass and sandblast everything!...gives you that matt ceramic feel....glad you like x