Monday, 20 June 2011

Capturing Light

Since January this year most of my days off have been spent at a workbench, playing with glass. I sit with a coffee, Desert Island Discs playing on the radio and decide what I'm going to make this week. Will it be some classy coasters, a large gently curving plate or bowl, some jewellery or a window hanger? Once the items are decided I then choose what colours I'm going to use - will it be vibrant sunset oranges, reds and golds, or sea blues and greens, will I use some powdered glass (frit) to add texture or insert copper foil which oxidises in the kiln to a wonderful pink or green?

So many decisions - so many things to play with.
Once my pieces are ready, they are loaded into the kiln. If it's coasters, then it will only take one firing, but a complex plate might take three. The first to 'tack' frit and powders to form texture, the second to fuse additional elements into the piece and the third to 'slump' the piece into shape in a mould.

Each firing takes about 12 hours before the glass is cool enough to open the kiln without mishap. So one plate can take three days - but the fiddly work is done before the first firing - so I can unload and reload the kiln in about 15 minutes during a break from work.

The joy of taking a beautiful item out of the kiln is wonderful. I usually have a good idea of how a piece will turn out but even so there are often surprises - the way two colours work together or some bubbles have formed, or an element of iridescent glass catches the light, or some copper has coloured - all make for delight.

When leaving college to be a minister (17 years ago!) we were reminded of the guidance in 'The Constitution, Practice and Discipline' of the Methodist Church, to cultivate a hobby! I've learnt since that the instruction should be "find a hobby that cultivates you"! I am much better at protecting my days off now and feel fed by this new creativity. I can make the process about work and theology and reflection on spiritual things (can't avoid it really) but that's definitely not the point.... I lose myself in the world of colour and shape and, to some extent, in the gadgets, tools and technical side of the glass-fusing world.

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