“Better an interesting failure than a boring success”.

Ben Dombey demonstrates combining cast and blown glass in the hotshop.

Ben Dombey demonstrates combining cast and blown glass in the hotshop.

Thanks to Michael Rogers for the above quote! That sums up the spirit of our masterclass – try things with hope and a spirit of adventure.

These past two days I’ve seen things done with molten glass that you wouldn’t believe! Ben Dombey, Michael’s technical assistant is a very accomplished young glass blower, a student of Michael’s and they work together with us students to demonstrate ways to combine cast glass objects with hot and blown glass.

We have been making moulds of objects we brought along in preparation for casting. I am working on the peregrine remains I found on the beach (I abandoned the antique concealed boot I intended to work with when I discovered it would be altered in the process as I have been asked to return it undamaged).

This evening we had presentations by Cappy Thompson and Michael, along with Ben and Jeff Zimmer, who is Cappy’s T.A.

Ben’s work is coloured, and often silvered, blown glass and he uses the material to explore surfaces and ideas about the relationship of inside to outside. Amazing layers of colour and sometimes mirrored interiors revealed by carving into the outer surface. Jeff,s pieces are multi-layered constructions of painted flat glass and are often ambiguous visually and in meaning. His work is driven by his political as well as personal inspiration, and include works made in response to environmental issues and the Iraq war. They demand interaction with the viewer and I can’t wait to see them in the flesh.

Cappy is an influential glass artist from Seattle. She paints stories about her life on blown glass vessel forms using a mediaeval glass painting technique called ‘grisaille’. Her work is extraordinarily intricate, colourful and beautiful and she often draws on myths and legends to give context and meaning to her own personal story. She also undertakes major large-scale commissions for public buildings including an enormous wall of windows for Sea Tac airport in Seattle.

Michael is Professor of Glass at Rochester University, New York and is one of America’s leading glass artists. His work often combines cast, blown and engraved glass. Sometimes he incorporates delicate sewn and embroidered, or quilted elements made by his wife, Betty, who is a textile artist. He puts these elements together in a poetic, rather than a logical way, to evoke layers of meaning rather as a poet uses metaphor.

Tomorrow I hope to prepare my first lost wax mould in readiness for casting the falcon talons. Bullseye glass company have donated lots of glass in every colour for this class, so it will be wonderful to have the chance to experiment with some gorgeous glass!

We are putting in 13 hours or more a day and we are having a ball! I feel utterly privileged to be here.

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