Category | inspiration

VITAL inspiration

swimming under the sea is a magical thing. holding ones breath to float, immersed in the soft velvety waters, transports you into another realm of being. one with muted sound and subtle lines. one with dappled light and slow, heavy movement. there is a forced peace in that realm, a tranquility hidden from the noise and harsh nature of the land.

most of my childhood and teenage summers were spent at the beach. one of my favourite things to do when I was there was to dig deep into the face of waves and flip onto my back to watch those walls of energy roll over me. watching the blue tones change in the depths of water and the light stream through where the water was thinnest, made me indefinably happy. feeling the soft, wave-swept ripples in the seafloor with my hands was something else I loved to do.

having just spent a weeks holiday in Fiji, where I swam for several hours each day, reminded me of how much I enjoy being inside and under that great mass of water. watching the fractured light wobble and dance over my skin and being washed by the same ebb and flow of the brightly coloured fish below me was beautiful. it was restorative and life giving.

it also confirmed for me my decision to try to represent that great sea in my artwork for VITAL (#vital2014). artist’s were encouraged to respond to or address the word VITAL and what it means for them. I was immediately drawn to the idea of somehow creating an underwater scene in a piece of glass.

so, I’ve tried.

*3rd and final piece, with ‘failures’ and all.

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kiln ‘failures’

if i made my little 1x1cm stud earrings or my 30cm fern bowls all the time, and if they were the only things i made, i would be able to have the same results every time. i plan and write a schedule of every firing i do, taking into account the size of the piece, the thickness of the glass and effect i want in the finished piece. so to repeat something i’ve made, its already programmed for me, i have the past schedules and previous mistakes to show me what i need to do to end up with the desired product each time, every time. it’s quite predictable.

thats a good thing. it’s wisdom, i think. i also know that its productive and not wasteful. but, just this week i’ve found such exquisite beauty in the unknowns and in the unpredictable; in the mistakes i’ve made and the ‘failures’ that occur when i don’t have a program that i’ve already established for such a job. i was working from feel and only a little bit of research and forethought. i threw (figure of speech people – i’m working with glass!) things together and put them in the kiln to fire. it was one of those times that glass has again blown me away with its depth, strength and beauty.

i’m working on a piece for an artshow in Sydney at the end of the month and am working on a larger scale than normal. i knew that what i was making was a ‘test’ but i’m always hopeful that the ‘draft’ will do. i’ve never been good at editing and perfecting. mid-way through the firing i checked through the little kiln window and saw some beautiful (but not ideal) bubbles across the big flat fused panel. bubbles occur in glasswork where pockets of air get trapped in the heating and cooling process – all they need is a passage to escape – they’re not there to cause trouble, per say. i was hoping that throughout the rest of the firing schedule these big boils would find their little passages, out of my glass and into the kiln-sphere.

after two firings and hours of planning and designing, i opened the kiln to find those big bubbling boils still sitting in my glass panel. having pushed glass aside around them, they stretched taught about 2cm above the surface, with skins thin like paper. i was a bit gutted, knowing i had limited days left to complete the piece before i go away for a while, and lamenting the amount of glass i had used in this now useless panel. but as i washed the piece and held it up to the sky – there it was…crystalline light playing amongst the layers of glass and tiny bubbles holding to fragments of frit. this piece was beautiful. it was showing me everything i love about glass and more. never had i seen glass stretched so thin, where it would crinkle under the gentle pressure of my finger. the reflections of a top-layer stringer on the bottom of the panel blew me away with its colourful mirrored imagery.

i’ve been reminded that this is more of what i need. and this is how i will keep learning about this medium. don’t worry though, i’ve kept going with this piece. the 2nd edition is currently warming up to its almost-800 degree climax. i’ve created little passages this time for the air and been more careful about layering the glass. because i am trying to tell a specific story with this panel, one that i want to perfect and one that needs to speak clearly. although, i’m very grateful for the story that the first edition told me.

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retreating.

i am currently sitting at a solid claw-foot (not only reserved for baths) table in a rustic old formal dining room, in a hundred year old home on the top of a mountain escarpment. the leaves just outside the window, and further beyond, remind me of how beautifully Autumn happens here and beckons me outdoors.

for the next four days i will be drawing, talking, drinking tea (i’ve already asked someone to keep count for me), wondering, designing, lazing, walking, eating, planning, drinking and then probably sleeping. i’m attending the 3rd annual Sydney Artists Retreat. it is such a highlight of my year and one that i’m particularly excited about in my new ‘regime’ of life. i’m looking forward to being inspired by the 20 or so other artists here and excited about planning what is ahead for me at woodGLASS.

let the retreating begin!

a.

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finding ‘what i do’

its been about 3 months of working as ‘an artist’, (with some major interruptions in February) and i’m finding myself a little lost, or unsure really. i am coming to realise that it takes artists, practitioners, musicians and craftspeople months, and more often years before they find themselves doing ‘what they do’. they start somewhere, usually working and crafting in the evenings and on weekends from their dining table, outside their day job. then they might cut back to part-time of both and then if they’re lucky they can commit all of their time to ‘work’ in that area. but i think most of the time, it takes years of development. weeks and months of drafting dreams into marketing plans and business outlines. it takes years to hone their craft, perfect their pitch or sharpen their skills. many days are spent fruitlessly. multiple trials are made. preliminaries completed and ‘rejects’ accumulated. weeks gone by without a dollar of income.

that time though, those hours, days and months are only really appreciated in hindsight. when you’re making trial pieces that have no direct purpose or while your practicing a skill over and over just to grow in your ability, you’re not able to see what it will lead to.

thats my problem. i’m finding it really difficult to focus or find motivation for something that may be years away and out of sight. i can’t grasp the concept of a bread-buying income (and i mean just bread-buying – y’know, a good loaf of local sourdough!) from what i do. i can’t see yet, what it is that i can say ‘i do’. i’m somewhere in the area of an artist – jewellery maker – homewares crafter person. and i love my medium. i get excited by what i see in new things i make.

so, i am on the road of this journey (as the cliche goes). but it feels like i’m driving 50 k’s an hour, in a beat-up Toyota hatch running on 3 cylinders. but, i’m on the road. so, i’ll keep listening to the crackling radio, playing Hot Country, and spend another day practicing glass cutting. i’ll try to design a new bowl prototype. i’ll keep making posts and links on social media to market my work. i’ll book myself in for artist’s retreats to meet and be inspired by others. i’ll try and make new things.

maybe in a few weeks time i’ll see progress. maybe in a month i’ll have more motivation. who knows, maybe in a year i’ll have stores that want my things on their shelves, or at least lots of folks who want them on their walls. until then, i’ll be here in the studio.

a.

* i really do listen to Hot Country. its a real treat!

** i don’t own a toyota hatch, and neither is this an advertisement for the car company…although – ‘Hey – Toyota…want to lend me a hand?’

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a range…

the idea of ‘a range’ is one that i attribute to fashion houses, leading jewellery designers and other such successful peoples. i figure, you must be big, sell lots and cater for the need of a ‘new look’ and reinvented style within the brand to actually do it. hence, its an idea that woodGLASS is not very familiar with, itself.

 

I have however, been inspired by different things at certain times and by new travels to different places. places with new colours and seasons with different light. but i have never gone so far as to have an idea for ‘a range’. well, as any poet could sense, things are about to change. (squirm at the rhyming with me, please)

at some special time over the next month, through lots of scheduled and unschedules business, i will be launching my new autumn and winter range of jewellery. the excitement has been building as i’ve drawn and sketched, in hipster cafes and alleyway asian eats. i am kind of mesmerised by the ability to see my made things appear before me, as i had dreamed them and first drawn them. to see my pieces come to life as the light goes through the glass is a much needed transformation from the scribbled sketches in notebooks.

 

i will be looking to do something big for the launch – i want it to be special. i want to mark this sense of achievement in making ‘this thing’ happen. i will have to let you know at a later date what that will be though…

in the meantime i will be in the studio, working on my 2014A/W collection. bahahaha

 

a.

hint – it will be about bright colours balanced by natural opaques for the autumn and winter months.

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objects for people.

most often, i make objects for people, as they want them. the bigger pieces anyway, the fins and the bowls. initially that was just out of practicality. i don’t have a department store buying hundreds of my pieces (maybe one day, anyone?) or even a boutique buying 5. this practicality has changed, as i make for more people.

i feel like its now part of the story, of each individual object. sometimes there are more specific known elements of the object and what someone may like. other times, its just a colour or even a field of colours. i have had the privilege too, of making things for specific people and people who have become special to me. in that way, i know the person and the object the best. i might value the story behind why the piece is being made or the nature and character of the one receiving it. it has become a beautiful thing.

i love making things, and i really find glass to be the most amazing medium. but most all, i love giving things. the idea of giving doesn’t change for me even if there is money involved. i am still giving something, to be received by someone. a value i see less of in this world sometimes, and one that i want to see more of in myself. not because i am better than you or anyone else. but because someone gave to me, first.

a.

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The Fin.

i have vivid memories as a 10 year old girl, the younger sister of two boys and daughter of a surfing guru, of swimming and surfing on the most pristine light aqua waters of a white-sand beach in Esperance, Western Australia. its the most clear memory i have of learning to surf, although i’d been in the water, i assume, since birth. these early pictures that are etched in my mind just stand to document the beginning of a little Gidget’s growth.

my dad used to take me surfing on saturday mornings, to a small local peeler called Kiddies Corner. we’d eat bacon and egg rolls when we’d get home and i’d sit in that post-surf daze with great gratitude in my heart, for the ocean, for my dad and for  BBQ sauce. when i didn’t go with him, the other Grey Loggers would ask where Gidget was.

unfortunately, as i grew my passion for riding the waves didn’t really. i still did it, and do today, but not with that great stoke or eagerness. i am still eager to be in the ocean though, swimming and sometimes surfing.

it wasn’t until one year as we approached christmas that i was thinking about what to make my brother, still a surfer and still very keen. my sister in law, knowing that Dave’s true mistress was the ocean often losing him on a saturday morning to her siren calls, suggested i try and make him some fins from glass. it was a good idea. it was great. one that i pondered and worked on. i drew fins, took templates from some of my favourite shaper’s fins online and began making the first woodGLASS fins. the colours had to be bright and clear, like the water in Esperance. they had to move and flow, like waves that move over the sand.

they were beautiful, the way they felt in the hand after firing, and the way that the light danced through the ‘windows’ in the glass. it was a brilliant idea, and one that i still love and work with today. the designs have spoken to plenty of different people. wives with husbands like Dave. or mothers with frothing groms at home. i’m currently working on designs for some pillars of Australian surfing culture. i’ve sent them to Europe, to stoke up a british kid who’d learnt to surf in Sydney.

so, my friends, please enjoy the ride as i continue to make one of my favourite objects. The Fin.

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living as an artist

this new year will look slightly different for me. i will no longer have the tag line response to the frequent question ‘what do you do with yourself?’ of ‘I’m a teacher’. this year i won’t be sharing creative energy with my young students and exploring idea development in the classroom forum. i, am an artist. this little thing called wood|GLASS is now my main job.

i will miss the student interaction and the opportunity to work in printmaking, clay and paint all in one day. but i hope to stretch my knowledge and skills in my favourite medium, glass. and produce more than i ever have, with the purpose of living contentedly in the knowledge i am using the gifts i have received to share beauty and truth in the world. we need more beauty and truth.

i hope you enjoy the ride. i will keep you posted.

a.

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giveaway!

head over to the Facebook page and check out the giveaway – all to celebrate the new site and design.

 

details at https://www.facebook.com/woodglass

a.

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new face

well things have been happening here, slowly, as usual. but i’m so happy to have a new design and face for woodglass. and i’m very pleased to place some new things in the shop. let me know what you think of them. a big thanks to em from thebeetleshack.com for taking some photographs of my work over the last couple of weeks.

i’m so inspired these days by folks who find the courage to wisely and successfully establish a way to create their arts full time. i dream of being able to spend a stack of time in the studio in my week, but the reality is, i spend much, much more time out of it doing other things. darned work.

so i’m looking to a time when i can do just that; explore and play with glass, and find my things homes that will in exchange provide me with money for food and more glass.

keep on dreaming my friends. a.

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