Should have known from experience that first impressions doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to producing these bubble blocks. Thinking that having one side of the mould holder wider to allow packing, would have been enough to cater for extraction. It was a tedious and messy operation as movement during firing had given the opportunity for some of the mass of glass to leak. Was thinking, here we go, three days down the tube. After cold working the piece is looking fine.
To make life easier for now I split one side and tie wired it back to correct width. When the stack above comes out in three days It will just be a case of cutting wire and spreading mould holder for easy extraction. That’s the plan anyway. Can’t wait to see how all the layers of black will look.
Won’t know exactly how the bubble will travel through this slimmer and taller block until I get into my hands in three days time. Made sure kiln set up was level to help keep the bubble from traveling too close to the walls, making cold working possible without breaking through.
Questioned myself about the effort to set up, but am sure if more are in demand it will only be a matter of modifying the mould to be squarer and have pre-cut sheet ready for all depths of the stack. If anything, it has me interested.
The last two blocks I need are 195mm high when stacked from sheet, will sink a bit into mould before the bubble pushes it back up. More time to monitor rise of bubble before allowing it to ramp down through a much longer anneal. Will be interesting how the double stacked Caldera kilns go. Only problem is to make sure there is nowhere for molten glass to leak through, cage is over engineered to help this cause.
My time with glass over the years has been sporadic, interruptions due to the course of life. The frustration of having to put things on hold time and again truly tested me. Failures over this time kept me interested, as they made me question where I could take them, to make them my own. Testing all different means to solve the mystery of the crackle technique most likely is the one thing that whetted my appetite for nutting things out. My process is over engineered and with out a doubt very different to Bob’s technique. I’m happy that the method allows me to control radiating cracks from any given point on a piece. Even though I only have it as background on one serious work, I know I can return to it later.
The bubble in a block of glass is getting easier. At the moment the blocks being developed are constructed of sheet glass and fired only once. This appeals to me very much. Once “Thoughts of a Madman.”, is dealt with I look forward to the next period in the studio working on more complex bubble blocks incorporating pattern being stretched, solid multi layered blocks and heavy bottomed containers for precious items. I’m excited to have all of this ahead of me along with other ideas that have me intrigued.
This has everything to do about sound advise that I’ve read about and also very sound advise told to me by a business man from Perth in 2003. First was all about finding your own unique technique, style and the second was to choose a market and stick to it. One can always be positive if there is a revised plan B.
I have been fascinated by the bubble for a very long time. When very early pieces failed due to any number of contributing factors to cause excess degassing under a slab of glass, no tears. I loved the way it moved the colours at the edge before it thinned out to form a dome. On smaller failures with thicker domes I realized the potential to use them as magnifiers over multiple points on a panel of glass to distort the underlying lay up. This had promise, and still has after I’ve had time to think about it. It has every thing to do with tooling for some things to meet an agreeable standard, neat and clean.
Bicarbonate of Soda is another beauty that delivers great results, especially creating veils between layers or applied to chosen areas between the layers. Getting the mix and application right determines, chaos and control. Don’t mind a bit of chaos from time to time, but it’s much harder to have a vision of what I’ve set out to achieve. Likewise organics trapped beneath or between layers have been interesting as part of trying to understand how a kiln forming glass worker can gain more control.
Glass blowers are the masters of the bubble. I envied all those taking part in the dance to create all of their forms. I was offered a chance to play with a gather of glass once in 2003 and declined, solely due to the fact that once wouldn’t have been enough.
The blocks were not a one hit wonder and had some spectacular failures. With the thought that it was possible to achieve this and that one day I could go bigger and also on to slabs filled with controlled bubbles pushing through the layers to reach the top, I was over the moon when the first successful bubble block was produced. Equally happy when more successes followed, the failures took the foot off the pedal just a little bit. Guessing without a ruler the original blocks to make up the work, “Thinking Totem”, would be an eighth or less of the size that I’m currently producing. One problem with the bigger blocks is that cold working on some of the pieces that are thin walled are at risk of failure due to exposing the bubble. That can be a real whip. Can hardly wait to get home to build a new mould to suit double stacked Caldera kilns, will have to get serious here with time, heat and volume of bubble, along with all of the other considerations to have integrity.
The best part about this process for me is that I need the box open at top temp more often than not. Mindful to maintain good temperature for the glass. I’ve learnt to use compressed air to cool top of block gradually if I feel that a bubble is rising too quickly and is likely to continue once hold at that temp is cancelled. On other occasions it is a case of using a flame to heat a section on top of block to allow movement into that area. I have along way to go before I can gain control of a bubble through heated glass, to know it’s position within a slab at a certain time ,working at desired temperature. It’s just science. How many bubbles in a slab could one fit? Can’t jam them in there all at once. This is where being a diesel fitter is going to pay off again. I so want to be an ex one though
“Thoughts of a Madman” piece being produced at the moment is not a whimsical thing being thrown together just to enter it for consideration into the last Ranamok Glass Prize. It is something that I’ve pushed for, for over a decade. It just happens to be now that I’m ready. I get to tick the box if accepted into the exhibition for the finalists but will accept just getting images to the jurors on time.
My family are behind me, not for this moment but for whole journey that brings me here to a position where I can dare to put myself up against the very best in Australia , New Zealand and any international artist doing residency/study within these two countries. My wife and best mate, Maree, is my harshest critic and biggest supporter. My eldest son, Shannon, throws me ideas,challenges and deals with kiln controllers and website and youngest son, Reece, is waiting to do his bit later. My sisters, Clare and Louise, want only the best for me as they are the ones who have known me longest and my desire to be an artist in some form.
So now all that there is to do is return safely from Nauru and ease back into my studio to complete the last four elements and tidy up the rest before trying to get the very best images. Easy, because it’s where I feel most comfortable.