Inspired to make a return to writing a blog because I have just completed a four day masterclass with the talented glass artist Angela Jarman at the Glass Hub in Wiltshire and the experience deserves sharing!
I first worked with KT and Helga at The Glass Hub when I did their brilliant 10 week Foundation course last year (highly recommended if you want to try your hand at all aspects of working with glass!) It was such a delight to return and join this masterclass (thanks to a much appreciated emergency family whip round for my birthday) and spend four days learning with Angela Jarman, a brilliant cast glass artist who I met in Croatia last summer (an unexpected ‘instagrammers meet up as humans’ moment)
I knew glass casting was an area I wanted to learn more about but I don’t think any of us on the course really understood quite what a learning curve we would be on, day one was a cascade of information as Angela shared so many of her techniques and introduced us to so many ways of creating and moulding our pieces, but it was a perfect start to inspire us to think in new ways and to embrace new ways of working.
First day superstar friend and fellow student Julie brought a birthday cake, complete with candle and sparklers…this was by no means the only cake eaten over the four days!
By the first afternoon we were all begining work, some were casting objects they had brought along with them but I decided to build my own piece, an ambition that would have me doing homework in my own studio ’til the wee hours every night!
By day two there was a mass of work on the go, mass pourings of (in multiple variations of order!) plaster, gel flex, alginate, silicone and wax as everything from a fresh pineapple to a resin relief panel, from a sea shell to a sculpture of a rhino (not full size!) begin to be turned into positive and negative objects as we each worked through different stages of creating our final wax models.
This was my piece as it took shape..
My wax sculpture was taking much longer to put together and so by day 3 when other students were preparing several pieces to cast I was still building, carving, joining, scraping and polishing my piece. I know I could have made life easier by making something less ambitious but that’s not my way and with the excellent learning opportunity of working with Angela I was not going to be shy about what I wanted to attempt!
Here is just a snap shot of some of the other pieces being created in the class…
At the end of the day we all staggered a hundred yards to the glorious Manor House and dusty and tired we devoured a fabulous Cream Tea in the garden…what a treat!
After heading home day 3 turned out to be the longest homework night for me, in my own studio until 3am….eventually getting to the point of discovering the reward of polishing wax with white spirit for a final finish! I was determined to have my piece as exact as I possibly could because I understood that would reduce the chance of having to cold work ‘problem’ areas. I enjoy cold working but why make unecessary work, and cold working will be a long process on this piece as it is!
Day 4 was an all action day of casting refractory moulds and then steaming out the wax. I had mixed feelings watching the wax sculpture I had laboured over dripping away, it is of course the very nature of lost wax casting to lose the wax, and the sculpture will (hopefully) reappear in the form of glass but nevertheless it was an irreversable moment to see it dribble to a heap!
We had a lunch time slide show from Angela and she talked us through some of her extraordinary work over the years, having been in the studio with her for these few days we all had a much clearer appreciation of the time and skill involved in producing such beautiful and technically proficient glass pieces.
It was the last afternoon and I am pretty sure we all felt the clock was running extra fast as we pushed to complete our moulds. Angela guided us through choice of glass and how to work out quantities needed for our pieces, firing programmes, and all the final details of collars, reservoirs and kiln loading. From first to last hour of this masterclass it was write notes, take photos, write notes, take photos, write more notes!
Some students struggled to get the timing right on getting their pieces kiln ready because they had multiple casts to prepare but as my brain was starting to complain about the lack of sleep I was very happy to see my one refractory mould settled in the kiln and then finish off the final hour scrubing boards and tools and generally help Helga and Jess get the studio straight.
This is the final shot as my piece was loaded into the kiln….4 days to wait…please be kind kiln gods! There are notes to decipher and knowledge to digest, and lots of fledgling skills to practice over the summer as I prepare to start my Ceramics and Glass MA at the RCA in the autumn.
Here is the full and happy crew on the final day….minus Helga who took the photo! Left to right; Alison, Julie, Angela (our tutor), Jess (glass hub intern), Me, Hope and Phillipa.
I hope to get photos in due course from all the other students once everything has been fired and they have recieved and opened their moulds….so there will be a Part Two to this story!
There are notes to decipher and knowledge to digest, skills to practice I prepare to start my Ceramics and Glass MA at the RCA in the autumn.
Huge thanks to Angela for generously and patiently sharing so much knowledge, and to Jess, Helga and KT at the Glass Hub….a friendlier group of supportive folk would be hard to find!