Monday 26 September 2011

Wertheim 2011

I'm nearly home! After a whirlwind three days, I'm back at Frankfurt airport, with a long wait ahead of me and excellent internet access what better place to blog than in a comfy chair with a chai tea latte in front?

Leaving at some ungodly hour, I got to Manchester airport, hopped on the plane to Frankfurt, and caught three separate trains to Wertheim. By the time I arrived, I'd been on the road for over 12 hours, and only a long trek up the hill (across cobble stones, with several thousand ££ worth of glassy stock in my suitcase) separated me from the bliss of a youth hostel bed. That evening, I managed to sneak back down into town and checked out the 'Arkadensaal', where all the shenanigans would take place.

I have to say, the Glasperlenspektrum people, organisers of Wertheim, got the location spot on:



Directly on the water, in a picturesque town, and round the corner from a glass museum, in the shadow of a castle - I was one happy bunny!

(The windows to the right in the picture above are where the action took place!)

Friday morning I spent dipping my demonstration mandrels (which din't exactly take hours ;o) and meandering about town, then, when everything opened officially, checking out the dealers' tent (which is a literal translation, and no drugs changed hands, unless one counts the addictive properties of presses, glass, frit, findings, etc!) I then had a chance to check out some demos, but made a wild dash to the glass museum, as I knew it would be my only chance!

Here, I encountered the mouthblown 500-litre flagon:


No machines involved in the making, which I think is just showing off.


Back to the Arkadensaal, where it was soon time for my own demo, and then, I was hugely disappointed to miss Charly Hummel's marble demo, since I had to try and get some credit for my dongle, lest the internet forsook me. What I thought would be a quick hop into town turned into a hike to the out-of-town petrol station, and so, by the time I got back, Charly was finished :o(

Out for a meal with a group of people, hike up the hill, bed!

Saturday morning, an early morning, hoiking my suitcase down the hill at 7am to set up my stall. A lovely mood in the artist space, which was also in the Arkadensaal, so we could witness all other demos first hand. Although my stall was a bit dark (lights not being the easiest to fit into a 'suitcase-proof stall', it looked okay.


The two days went by really quickly, although I have to say, had I not been chained to my stall, I could have spent a *lot* of money both on glassy goodies and on beads. As it is, I managed to engage in some swapsism, the results of which are packed safely in my suitcase.

I met so many lovely people that I'm deliberately not naming names, because I'll without a doubt forget somebody! But, since I was asked lots of times why more Brits didn't turn up to Wertheim, and having now met the Danish delegation who drives down each year, I think there is definitely scope for a class exchange - who's up for it? :o))))


Wednesday 14 September 2011

I see angels

Yesterday, I made an angel - well, actually, I made a fairy, which was meant to be an angel, and then I had a little heart to heart with myself to sort the wings out, and then I made an angel. And today, the angel went on a little road trip, just across the road, to the local church. Here are the best 'angel captures' :)

Angels 4

Angels 3

Angels 2

Angels 1

...I think the top one might end up being my Christmas card this year...

Friday 9 September 2011

Under Pressure

Everybody says children are creative. So when my beloved three-year-old showed me this:

Under Pressure (the first design draft)

I knew that I had to make it work in glass. The same beloved three-year-old has a current obsession with Greek myths, which was kindled by seeing a picture of Atlas. So for a couple of weeks, my head went round and round, thinking of modern versions of 'Atlas', not carrying the heavens, but our daily pressures of the modern era, squeezed for time, for relaxation, balancing all our demands on a fragile base, which may shatter at any moment. And out came this:



The body is not 100% there yet - I could try and fudge that by saying it's starting to get mangled, lol! But I hope I've done munchkin's design proud!

Monday 15 August 2011



Last Saturday saw the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall. Of course, I wasn't there. But my parents were. My father was born in Berlin, and my mother moved there, through the iron curtain, in 1962, and eventually, they would meet there, in Berlin, and marry, and have first my sister, then me.

Because large parts of my family lived in East Germany, I may have more of an understanding of the wall than my contemporaries, I don't know - I was 14 when the wall came down. I do remember the summer of 1989, the feeling building up that something momentous was going to happen, but not quite realising how momentous it might be. Because, you see, the wall was *there*. It was in people's minds as well as in concrete, it had become the status quo. I had not known the country any way other than divided. But things can change. People, no matter how fragile or small they might look individually, can make a difference. A big enough lump of glass will tear down barbed wire and concrete.

The wall came down in 1989, Germany has been re-united for 21 years. I's not all rosy - which country is?

But if recent events here in the UK may have made a dint in our beliefs in humanity, or the future, then let's look at the tea cups served on riot shields, the army of brooms, and let's remember that there are more good people than bad people out there in the world.


Thursday 7 July 2011

Shane Fero Course No. 1

Phhhht! Let me try and blow some dust off this blog! I am currently at the amazing Bildwerk Frauenau summer school - imagine a place where people congregate to learn arts and crafts, and have done for 24 years, where popping into each others' classrooms for a nosy is encouraged, where talks and communal meals are organised, where you might chat with others about anything, shedding light on it from any number of media, where creativity oozes out of every pore, with random glass and clay sculptures dotting the landscape, where you might find a small carving on your wooden seat, or the windows engraved with sketches, or the walls painted with scenes and quotes from the minds of people who attended years ago. If you manage this (and you might well arrive in your head at some sort of 1960s commune - in a good way!), then you have begun to scratch the surface of Bildwerk Frauenau. I have been here for two full days, and I won't pretend that I have done any more than that!

If you now populate your visual image with a group of people spanning about 12 nationalities, and steep it in lovely sunshine, add a dash of 'sitting on the lawn on a balmy evening, discussing the day over a bottle of beer', then you have added a bit more detail.....

....and from me taking the pains to describe this in such detail, you might deduct that I'm rather enjoying this particular environment!!

I'm here to spend 16 days (!!!) with Shane Fero, lampworker extra-ordinaire. And in fact, now that I've given you a taste of what this place is like, I think I might wait until the next post to tell you more about the course itself ;o)


Tuesday 17 May 2011

The time has come, the walrus said..., isn't that interesting? I chose the blog post titles because I haven't posted in a while, so I have to 'talk of many things'...but have you actually read the full poem? Well, I never! And I thought I knew Alice! If you're as clueless as I was 10 minutes ago, there you go:

So, so much happened in the last couple of weeks, it is truly astonishing! Two new galleries have received jewellery packages, one, the Schatzkiste, is on the island of Borkum, in Germany, the other one, St Mawes Pottery, is in Cornwall. It's odd to think that some of my jewellery is now much closer to my childhood home than I am!

As part of the publicity for Sheffield Open Studios, I got interviewed for Mosaic Magazine Barnsley:

Mosaic Magazine, Issue 53

Apart from looking like I'm the evil creator of glassy monsters, I think it's a pretty good shot (and I love them for printing this quote of mine: "I am a flame worker and I fight a constant battle against mass-produced tat so it's good for people to come and see why they are paying more for what I make." Yay!

Then, about a week ago, something amazing happened - I found out that I won Silver in the Craft & Design Selected Awards (Glass category) ( - it has left me truly gobsmacked to be honoured in such a way, next to long-established artists (I know that sounds gushing, and that's exactly how I feel!) And in the way that good news sometimes breed good news, I know that there'll be a story on me winning the award in this Friday's Barnsley Chronicle :o) The finalists were decided by public vote, and the winners by jury - so, thank you so much to everybody who helped me reach the final, without you, the jury would never have had me to pick :o))))

Then, today, I got featured (or rather, my studio did) on the UK Handmade website:'m hoping this isn't the biblical 'time of abundance' to be followed by scarcity...eek! Hopefully, it's the start of 'onwards and upwards'!

(There'll be new beads tomorrow, too...while I'm writing about 'abundance' - my kiln looks like a butterfly house!!!)

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Random Craft Attack: E-Reader Cover

Sorry, I was going to do step-by-step photos, but it was done so quickly, I didn't get a chance, lol! After the success with the family Easter eggs, I decided to post the odd random craft tutorial, as and when it takes my fancy - I hope you like them. Today's crafty story starts like this:

E-Reader cover

In February, I bought myself an e-reader in America, plus a leather cover, from a brand endorsed by the e-reader, and sold by the same big-name store. I happily read my book for 20 minutes, put it in its cover, then in my handbag (otherwise occupied by my wallet and a 0.5l plastic water bottle). The next day, the magnetic snap button on the e-reader cover had shattered the screen of the reader and frozen the image. Complications due to having bought in America and an end-of-line product etc. seemed to make the returns process more costly than the e-reader itself.

I grumped for a good six weeks before I decided to buy another e-reader - but I was damned if I'd put it in the same cover. So here's what I did.

You'll need:

- A hardback book that is slightly larger than the e-reader, and that you are happy to 'gut'.
- Sharp knife or craft knife
- Two rectangles of cardboard that fit each side of the inside cover of the book
- Fabric remnant
- Rubber band
- Gorilla tape
- Glue

1. Take a sharp knife and carefully 'gut' your book.

2. Cut your cardboard to size (each rectangle should be slightly smaller than the inside cover, you'll need one card each for front and back).

3. Open your book cover and place the cardboard pieces accurately, then use gorilla tape to tape the cardboard together with the right spacing. Tape it from both sides, so you have a stable spine.

4. Cut fabric remnant to be slightly larger than your cardboard 'book'. Lay fabric face up on cardboard 'book', turn over, fold over all edges and either glue or gorilla-tape in place.

5. Decide where you want your rubber band - you're best off knotting a piece into an 'O' shape, rather than having to trust that knots don't slip through holes, etc. Place rubber band and hold in place with a length of gorilla tape.

6. Spread entire back of the cardboard 'book' liberally with glue and stick to inside book cover. Weigh it down with something heavy until glue is dry.

7. Marvel at your creative prowess :o))

E-Reader cover

Total cost for me: £ 0.65. Yup, 65p, the cost of the book at a second-hand shop. Total time taken: About 6 minutes. Enjoyment to be seen reading 'The naughtiest girl in school' for years to come - priceless :o))