Towards Spring…

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We have been treated to some superb snow this month.

The past few months has been a busy time for teaching. I have done a number of glass projects in local primary schools. I love this work, it is so inspiring to work with children and get them enthused about glass!

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One particularly inspiring project was to make 2 bowls with kids at Ysgol y Frenni on the theme of “patterns in the environment” (or “patrymau  yr ymgylchedd” as the entire project was undertaken through the medium of Welsh!).

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I designed this as a patchwork of glass so that each child could work on their own design and then we could put them together to make a group piece. The bowls will be entered in the Urdd Eisteddfod in May.

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In another project we made fused glass jewellery on the same theme.

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The kids were so enthusiastic, they said it was their favourite day at school  EVER!!

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Rachel and I have just run a “Landscape into Glass” 4 day course at my studio here in Pembrokeshire. We were teaching our students mark-making and layering techniques and ways of working with firing paint, silver stain and frits in combination with pieces of Bullseye glass. We are planning another course for later in the year.

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Sue Thorne mark making with firing paint
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Cathryn Shilling decorating her “embryos” with silver stain

We had a couple of field trips to absorb the landscape and to visit local artists studios, like that of ceramicist, Adam Buick and glass artist, Steve Robinson. The course was very successful and we are planning another for next year.

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At Adam Buick’s studio, St. Davids
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Frances Arkle at Steve Robinson’s studio, St. Davids
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Visiting Carreg Coetan, a Neolithic burial chamber in Newport.

Apart from that I have been developing some new work in the studio looking at taking painting into glass. Sarah Harman and I have been working on our quarry project, having meetings with the National Park and technical specialists to help us hone down our ideas and firm up our budget so that we can apply for funding to make and present the work in 2014.

I have just heard that I have been successful in my funding bid to Wales Arts International for support to attend the American Glass Guild Conference in Florida in May where I have been asked to give a paper and run a workshop. I am planning a trip that includes visiting glass artist friends, Jane Bruce and Michael Rogers and spending time at Corning Museum of Glass and in New York. It will be a very inspiring trip, my first time in America, and a total contrast to life in rural West Wales!

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Newport Bridge, Pembrokeshire

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It has been such an amazing 10 days at the International Festival of Glass that don’t know where to begin…

Firstly, I had four days in Wolverhampton doing a masterclass with Antoine Leperlier. Antoine is a French artist whose use of glass casting techniques derives from working with his grandfather,François Décorchemont, who, in turn had learned from his father, Emile Décorchemont (b.1850), who was studio assistant for Gerome. This depth of heritage resonates through his work. Glass is his language, and he uses the peculiar properties of glass to explore his primary themes which are an exploration of the human condition in relation to the fourth dimension, time.

Obviously, in four days you can not hope to learn so much, but the experience of working with Antoine and absorbing his seriousness of purpose was incredible.

In the evenings we attended various exhibitions and openings connected with the International Festival of Glass. A visit to the Glass Afloat show at Bodenham Arboretum was particularly memorable. It was fascinating to see how other glass artists have made work for a site specific external location. In particular I was impressed by Jacque Pavlosky’s piece made from cut glass found work. Jacque was a fellow student on Antoine’s course.

Following on from this masterclass, I went to Stourbridge to attend the International Festival of Glass. This event centres around the British Glass Biennale which showcases work from among the best in British studio glass.

Gorgeous piece by Cathryn Shilling.

Piece by Louis Thompson which won the Best in Show Award.

James Lethbridge’s breathtaking ‘Midas Jar’.

‘Titan’ a beautiful piece by Bruno Romanelli