School Holidays are the dementors of creativity!

I don’t know about you, but we are now on week 5 of the school summer holidays and I’ve had the creativity and enthusiasm for work literally sucked out of me in the manner of a dementor from Harry Potter!! Admittedly I’ve been away on a cruise and also on a trip to Scotland for a family wedding, but even so, in the remaining weeks, I’ve had no inspiration whatsoever! Is it just me? Or does anyone else vicariously feel the pain of teenage apathy?

Gone are the holi-days when a trip to the coast or the park was considered the best fun that could be had for the price of a picnic! What do you mean my teenage son, you just want to stay in your room and ‘hang out’ with your friends (virtually) on your Play Station?! A reluctant agreement to go to the cinema seems like progress but is short-lived. I try to persuade said teenager to actually invite real friends over to play in the actual world and not virtually, or for him to actually go outside and do an proper activity that uses more than just his thumb muscles, but nope! As if this isn’t frustrating enough, we discover 4 weeks in, that he has omitted to tell us about the English homework for the Summer Holidays, in which he has to read both The Lord of the Flies AND Macbeth, and answer about 8 questions per chapter. If the mind-numbing routine of trying to get him out of his bedroom wasn’t bad enough, the bribery, blackmail and threats involved in brokering a deal for GCSE reading, has definitely sucked out what scrap of enthusiasm for work and creativity I had left!

I hear you saying “leave him to it and go have fun in your studio!” And that would be a good plan and it’s very tempting, but then I would feel like the worst mother in the world for not trying to think up exciting and engaging, whilst possibly educational and hopefully mind-expanding things for a 14 year old boy child to do in his 8 (yes bloody 8) weeks off!! And there are only so many 12A films being shown at the Odeon!

Has anyone tried hypnotising a 14 year old teenage boy? Asking for a friend!

In the meantime, here are some nice pics from my holiday….

Advertisements

Well that went better than expected!

So, you may remember from last week that I was in what I like to call ‘a bit of a panic’. I mean, who actually likes tidying up stuff?! But with the help of my lovely sister-in-law Denise, I did actually get my studio all in order, work nicely hung and displayed and tea and cake set out for Open Studios, all by 10:58am on Friday!! I even managed to have a shower and wash my hair before the 11am opening! Phew!

As it turned out, it all went rather well; I had loads of lovely visitors, sold some glass, have lots of interest in both beginners glass fusing workshops and some bespoke, skill-specific days for some lovely novice glass fusers – so that went better than expected!! And as my studio looked so pretty with my work set out and hung up, I’ve decided to leave it where it is. One of my friends did point out that it will get dusty if I leave it out, but hey! who ever cared about a bit of dust? Not me! After all, I made it to be seen, not wrapped in bubble wrap and stuffed in a box in the garage! So until someone else wants it in their house, I may as well enjoy it myself. And anyway, I’ve already filled all the shelf space in the garage so it won’t fit ;0)

Here’s a little peek of some of it in my studio…..

Clearly the Fairy lights are an essential feature of any studio display!

It’s not too late to brighten up your summer wardrobe with some funky jewellery either! Look at all those yummy chunks of swirly glass – that was very popular! And yes, you spotted the Xmas display – to be honest I really never want to make another Xmas themed item again, so these were all in ‘bargain corner’ lol.

The other thing we did was some coaster or sun-catcher making – so much fun!

1ebADPZDQe25b1SFsEtvBA

I’m going to be doing some coaster and sun-catcher making sessions at my local Wisdom Hospice so Emma who is part of the team there, popped in with her lovely daughter to have a go and see what we would be doing. Great job girls!!

And finally, I received this lovely pic of Colin the Cockerel who flew off to a new home and is now sitting on the kitchen wall surveying the goings-on and looking very happy!

4cf793ef-e2fd-4b08-982b-447eec768cbe

All-in-all a fab weekend of chatting about glass, drinking tea and eating cake, and I still have a tidy studio! But more importantly, now it’s such a pleasant space, I have renewed motivation to get in there and get making stuff!! 50 jelly babies already in the kiln and 3 light sconces for a client in the planning stages – YAY!! The sunny weather helps and my view into the garden is a bonus, but I must admit, having a tidy, well ordered studio is the best motivation, so maybe if I just do the tidying up as I go from now on……..

Bev x

Ever wish your dog was really a house elf?

img_0920.jpgNow I’m not saying Harvey isn’t a super dooper lovely helper in the studio – he does after all keep me company and warn me of all impending doom like the postman arriving or a squirrel trespassing on the fence – but today I really could have done with a bit more in the way of practical help – if only he was actually a house elf!

You see, I made a spur of the moment decision, after feeling grumpy that as usual, we would be on holiday for Medway Open Studios, and I would therefore not be able to take part – again; I decided to hold my own, stand-alone open studios, created a FB event, published it, announced it on twitter, instagram, FB and LinkedIn, made some DIY leaflets, handed them out at 2 networking events, and before I knew it, there really was no going back. Small problem was, I had taken delivery of a new larger kiln and wedged it into the garage. To make space for it, much of the garage was now in my studio and in the conservatory! But no worries – I had 6 weeks to sort this out before open studios :0)

IMG_1555

OK, so now open studios is day after tomorrow, and I am still ‘tidying’ stuff! Why is it that what seems like a perfectly do-able task when the decision is made, gradually becomes the last thing on the planet you want to do? I have no problem getting on social media and promoting it – I’m even going to be a guest on Molly Moodle’s Mashup on Channel radio tomorrow to talk about it (do tune in between 3 & 4pm to listen). It’s just the getting around to actually making a start bit, that I’m struggling with….. so……. I’ve just paused for a cuppa and a couple of chocolate digestives, and to write a blog post – as clearly that’s what you do when faced with deadlines!

nAnB7XRYT+OIounWd0gvUQ

I may have had more than a couple of chocolate digestives by the way….

Actually this behaviour is pretty much par for the course (and I fear that my son Ellis has inherited my propensity for procrastination) – every exhibition I’ve put on, every holiday I’ve packed for, every piece of homework I did at school – all last minute dot com! I like to say I work best when I’m running the gauntlet, but actually it just serves to make me stressed! Once I thought it was a good idea to go to Ladies Day at Ascot on a vintage bus for a friend’s 40th, the day before my holiday, and pack (for me and my son) when I got back that night….. if the bus hadn’t broken down twice on the motorway coming home, that may have not been such a bad plan as it turned out to be – going to bed at 3am and getting back up at 6am to get to the airport suddenly erased all the fun of Ladies Day from my memory!

Anyway, it’s 5 mins to school pick up now, so I’d better drink my tea… I mean I’d better do a bit more tidying up….

Come on Harvey, if I promise you a sock of your very own, can you just magic my studio in order? Pleeeaaase!

 

From mould-phobic to mould-enthusiast in 4 days

Well what can I say?? What a revelation it’s been this week – I spent a fantastic 4 days on a course at Creative Glass in Rochester, with the marvellous Marina Hanser (look up her work!!). The title of the course was ‘Hybrid Processes’ – it was a combination of techniques involving casting glass into hand built moulds and taking impressions using various every day objects and living entities… It was truly a revelation for me!

Now don’t get me wrong, I like to experiment, and I’m not averse to getting wet or making a huge mess, and I’m a magpie for tools and stuff. Plus, I’m all about process and I like nothing more than learning a new skill – but I have always shied away from mould-making and casting. Over the past few years however, I have noticed that the glass competitions I enter are always won by a piece of cast glass….. so I got to thinking that if you can’t beat ’em then you just have to bite the bullet and join ’em!

I was thrilled to discover therefore that I actually enjoyed the process of making my own unique moulds (just as well huh? the class wasn’t cheap!) The sad thing is that once your glass is cast (fired), you need to break the mould off the glass. This to me seems like such a waste, as they are not quick and simple to make and you will only ever be able to use it once. But maybe that’s the key to the allure of cast glass? Maybe knowing that there will only ever be one piece of glass like it IF it survives the casting, that it is therefore unique and individual – is this why judges love it, and people pay a lot of money for it? I think that is part of it, that, and the time and effort and electricity and materials and trial & error and mess and the need to wear a claustrophobic face mask and development of skills & knowledge and getting wet doing cold-working and the extortionate cost of cold-working equipment and praying to the kiln fairies and understanding the difference between a negative and a positive impression…… Yes I can appreciate the pedestal upon which casting is placed, now I’ve done some.

Here you can see a few pics of the process and how it comes out with still a lot of work needed to make it look like glass again! These two pieces were made in moulds taken of (top) scrunched up paper and (bottom) draped cloth – wonderful shapes and contours can be found in the simplest of familiar things x

Glass Artist and Proud!

Well after last weeks little incident at the hockey and the subsequent self-doubt, you will be pleased to know that today’s ‘Old Girls’ gathering at my old school’s centenary afternoon tea was refreshingly jolly, nostalgic and full of lovely Old Girls – some of whom were the class of ’55!!! Blimey!! Me and my lovely friend Sam who is also a sculptor turned up and immediately met 2 others from our year who seemed genuinely interested that we are real artists who actually sell our work!! Phew! I’m not going mad after all :0)

The thing that made my day however, was not their appreciation of my chosen career, but the fact I found my name in the 1983 Sports Day programme – My record for the 4th year long jump (4.27m!!!) had been unbroken for the next 6 years! Those people who  know me will appreciate how very exciting this was – not only had I completely forgotten I’d ever won anything, (let alone long jump) but I was easily the shortest person in my class, not known for my athletic prowess and never picked first for teams! When I saw my name, I not only took a picture of it on my phone, but I looked around me for someone to tell – anyone! Random old girls were told ‘I’ve found my name here and I was good at long jump! Look!!’ And nobody gave me any blank or ‘nutter alert’ type looks – they just enthused along with me and smiled, because everyone was happy! I have to thank the PE teacher Miss Stuart, who, 30 years later is still there, for keeping such fantastic records – of every sporting fixture we ever attended, of all the sports days, of all the sporting colours awards, and had pictures of girls with their wooden tennis rackets and their perms……. She would never have known at the time how one entry in the records would have brought such satisfaction 31 years on – YAY for Miss Stuart!!

And so, with renewed enthusiasm, I must now turn my attention to my son’s school Art/DT showcase on Weds, followed by Medway Open Studios the following week…..

IMG_8464 IMG_8479 IMG_8506 IMG_8518 IMG_8547

This is Ellis’ entry (he’s 10, and yes, he made this completely on his own, apart from me programming the kiln, and taking the photos!)

I still can’t get over my long jump record… lol

A strange thing happened at the hockey…….

In between making glass goodies for the forthcoming Medway Open Studios, this Sunday the whole family relocated to our son’s Hockey club for the juniors to have a practice session with the Men’s 1st 11 – who include the current GB Men’s captain Barry Middleton, and serveral other of the recent GB squad who came 4th in the recent world cup! What with that and the offer of a BBQ, we were all keen to go! Plus, the sun was shining and the club house bar was open – win-win!!

However…… shortly after arriving, I spotted one of the other mums, who I had not seen there before and realised that she and I were apprentice engineers together some 30 years ago! Not only that, but we had shared lifts to the training centre, I had sat with her for weeks in her knackered VW Beetle when she was learning to drive, and I had also worked in her parent’s pub when I turned 18 – As you can imagine, 30 years ago, we had shared a lot! I finally plucked up the courage to go over and say hello, thinking that she may not recognise me since I’m not really the tiny size 8 I was back then lol. I’m not sure what I was expecting really – it was a tad uncomfortable when for what seemed like hours, I was just waffling and not sure if she even knew who I was! I said ‘you haven’t changed a bit – I recognised you instantly!’ She said ‘I recognised your voice’. Hmmmmm – it went a bit down hill from there really!

She asked ‘What do you do?’ – I replied ‘I’m a glass artist! (smiling happily) – She just stared at me, looking like I had spoken Russian. Then she said ‘OH!’ followed by ‘What?!’ followed by ‘How come?’ – maybe I was speaking Russian?! It didn’t occur to me that my job would render her practically speechless! I endeavoured to explain a bit about what it meant to be a ‘Glass Artist’ – she continued to frown!

In the end I stopped talking and said ‘So what about you then?’  ‘Oh, I’m the Director of the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association – I stayed in Engineering.’ Aaaaah! You know when you wished you had just carried on walking and gone straight to the bar?? Yes – that’s how I felt. Somehow I know this is not about her – she has done phenominally well – has an MBA, and a string of impressive jobs on her CV, whereas I am a Glass Artist and she has no idea what that is! Should I have felt insignificant? Should I have felt like a massive under-achiever? Should I now be hatching plans to avoid her at all future Hockey socials? NO I should not! So why did I?

Maybe it’s because being a ‘Glass Artist’ is a title I have bestowed upon myself – I have created the world in which I am my own boss and I make as much or as little as I wish. I make time in my week for the things that are important in my life, like my family and friends. I am involved in fundraising for my son’s school and I volunteer a day a week at Nucleus to keep the gallery running, which supports other local artists. Maybe I am not one of life’s high-flyers – although I used to be! Maybe I could have had a list of impressive letters after my name and an office in the city if I’d kept at it!? But maybe I am just as happy (albeit brassic lol) to be using my creativity and my engineering skills to make glass art that people who do know what that means, appreciate and buy, to make themselves happy too! Yes, I am very happy not to have the stress and politics of the old days in industry and I don’t even think about it until I meet someone from my past and feel like I have to justify it!

My immediate hope is that I get over this little episode of self-doubt before this coming Sunday, because I am attending my old school’s Centenary Afternoon Tea for ‘old girls’. I am bound to bump into many more high-achieving old friends and have to explain what it is that I ‘do’. Mind you, with the help of another ‘old girl’ who is a ceramicist, sculptor and rescuer of donkeys, I’m sure we will manage! If not, there are always the scones!

In the meantime, I will just go back to my workshop and make more suncatchers for Open Studios…… Or maybe I’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit and do that later…… just because I can!

*skips over to the kettle with a little grin*

cuppa

x

 

Long time no see!!

Where has the time gone?? I can’t even claim to have been that busy with glass, but I have been visiting my caravan lots and been a busy bee with lots of school PTA related activities like the Summer Fair etc, so I am letting myself off my tardy attitude to my little blog.

The Summer fair was scheduled for last Saturday, on the day that the SE of England was due thunder, lightening and cricket-ball sized hail, the like of which had not been seen in 171 years! It was an interesting exercise in damage limitation! As it happens, it poured with rain at 10am and finished at 11am, then the sun came out! Well you know what they say about the righteous lol

Because I was in charge of securing a nice selection of ‘outside stalls’, and being an arty crafter myself, obviously I was drawn to local artisans. It was great to see Tina’s Tasty Treats (pickled pears, plumbrillo, chutney and coconut ice….) rubbing along next to Creations by Amanda, selling some lovely glass jewellery and coasters, alongside Dolly Dewberry (aka Karen) with her sewing machine and a variety of ready-made bunting flags that could be mixed to make ‘instant bunting’! Then Turning Matters (Mark) who makes fabulous turned wooden and acrylic pens and accessories – they were all unique and very unusual….. The list goes on….. FAB!!

Talking of the appearance of the sun, I have finally made it up to Berkley Square to see the stunning Chihuly ‘Sun’ installation, albeit, lit up from below, since it was dark by the time I got there and the park was locked up! lol However, even from the pavement, and in the dark, there is no denying the amazing skill and sheer creativity of his work! I do wonder how it’s all held together – I’d really love to know that – it’s the engineer in me!

chihuly sun Blue fiori sun

The stunning Blue one is Blue Fiori Sun – unfortunately that’s in the US somewhere, but if you are as impressed as I am by this amazing glass then take a look on his Facebook page – just make sure to have tissues ready for when you start drooling!

http://www.facebook.com/chihuly

My own contribution to outdoor art this week was 6 fused glass sun-catchers for the Nucleus Garden in Rochester – they are very pretty, but somehow not quite as ‘take your breath away’ stunning as Chihuly’s suns – one day!! lol

6 sun catchers suncatchers in the acer

Must take some more pics when the sun catchers are actually catching some sun! They do look nice in the tree but obviously they are then not then in the sun – doh!

Until next time, enjoy the weather and keep those sun dances up – they are obviously working!

Bev x