How little I know.

It was very humbling attending this course. I realised my journey really had only just begun.

The AN Professional Development Bursary provided me with financial support to attend the 5 day Flora and Fauna Flamework course with Paul Stankard and Shane Fero at Salem Community College, New Jersey, USA.

We worked with soda and borosilicate glass, to create natural forms. Paul is a master in creating natural compositions within a paperweight form. He showed us how to do this and many students worked on marble forms and paperweights. Shane Fero demonstrated techniques to model bird and human forms without encapsulating them in glass.

I realised on the second day that I wouldn’t have time to try all the techniques demonstrated within the week. I decided to listen, watch and then experiment with material preparation. I let go of any aspiration to make anything accomplished. I also came face to face with how little I know technically!

A revelation that came on day 3 was how lovely Soda glass was to work with. I had always been told that soda glass was difficult to work with and to avoid this if possible. Borosilicate being much easier in the sense that it doesn’t crack so easily. Here at SCC people were extremely positive about it and extolled the many aspects that make soda an attractive choice. I found that the glass had a flow to it, the working time was a little longer. The colour range too was much more diverse and appealing. The potential to mix with other glass states such as paints, powders and frits were much broader. I felt inspired and resolved to go home and experiment with these new possibilities.

Another huge discovery for me was that I really enjoyed working on a small flame, on a small scale. Making marbles and paper weights involved big flames and a lot of heat. After attempting to make 2 marbles I had to admit to myself that this was not what I had come on the course to learn, despite it being an enjoyable and tempting technique. I knew that if I focused solely on this then I would reach the end of the week wishing I had stayed open to all the other techniques being shown to us. Due to my over tired state I also didn’t have the energy.

I experimented with different colours, both in borosilicate and soda, and tried material preparation techniques that were new to me to create a complex and sensitive colour range.