14 Jul 2011

Collect 2011 Part One

Two months late I know but I seem to forget every year that this is a busy time and galleries need re-stocking more than I plan for.......
I just finished my glass review of Collect 2011 for the Contemporary Glass Society and whilst the experience is fresh in my mind again I'll write about my experience as an exhibitor and as a visitor.

Collect hadn't been on my radar as much as Origin (Chelsea Craft fair) had in the slow beginnings of working with glass. I had met makers at Chelsea and loved the idea of being an exhibitor, managing to produce a cohesive body of work and show high quality, innovative work at a internationally recognised show. I managed to not freak out too much for my first time at Origin (although I think my great helper for the week may disagree) and really enjoyed the show; good feedback and great sales. Getting selected for Collect by CraftScotland was a bit of a shock and I did question at first if I could produce what I proposed. I was using techniques I hadn't even tried and was relying on the fact I knew the smaller range of work techniques very well and had many conversations with my 'kiln gods' Bing & Bong (see funny white creatures in previous workshop images).

I didn't get the kiln up and running til early January which gave me three months to get to know the larger kiln and coldworking challenges of the larger vessels. Throw into the mix a research trip to the States (something I thought was really bad timing actually had a positive outcome) and teaching my vessel technique for the first time in Zurich and I soon realised there wasn't going to be much room for error. Carefully planned firing schedules, taking into consideration that the timings had more than doubled for making the thicker cast slabs needed for the taller drops, and longer heating/annealing/cooling times for the drops (top temperature and length of time pretty similar to the medium sized pieces).

My work for Trove at Perth Museum were the very first large scale pieces (after a clear test piece) in the new kiln; all came through the slump firings OK (my first firing was very cautious) and the coldworking was a little more physical, having to use my body to help steady the long drops. Also the first pieces that size to have engraving over the whole surface, which of course took me much longer than anticipated.

Once I've mulled over an idea in my mind for a few months I tend to make the actual work quite quickly, much of the time I'm working with similar colour combinations so don't make a huge amount of samples. However, a winter of playing with strange colours gave me the impetus to keep going and make many samples for the few ideas I had for Collect. I made a wide range of samples, some with engraved marks and re-fired and sandblasted half of each tile. These become the working studies I  play with whilst working on the colour ideas.

The physical nature of the work is thought on at the same time, how am I going to build the work and what drop form do I want. Often thinking in 3D and making sure the right colours are lurking under the surface for engraving.

Next: Part Two

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