I screamed so loud when the email came through, Stevie (my housemate) bolted upstairs to check I was okay, I've got a place at Pilchuck Glass School! I didn’t get the scholarship, but the prospect of going to Pilchuck fills me with an excitement from the pit of my stomach.
I am fascinated by the many qualities that glass is able to exhibit and the diverse ways that it can be worked to achieve varying affects. My favourite thing to do is make moulds for *casting; I love this rather unglamorous, messy side of glass. The creative process is extremely hands-on; I ingeniously manipulate materials to create stunning glass sculptures.
I am thrilled to be amongst just 38 people in the UK selected for the Crafts Council England’s Hothouse scheme. This provides support for makers, within two years of setting up their business, who already display a high level of technical craftsmanship and originality. The initiative has helped me to realise my values and creative aspirations of gaining, developing and sharing my knowledge. I relish any opportunity to share my love of glass with others. At the end of August I will be exhibiting as part of an open studios event in Devon with Drawn to The Valley. Alongside this I will be giving a lecture at Plymouth College of Art to staff and students on my experience of Pilchuck. And in October I will be exhibiting my work at Made London as part of the Hothouse4 collective.
I am a practising artist that uses glass and for the past four years I've been working part time as a technician at Plymouth College of Art, I'm constantly learning new things and helping students to realise their dreams in glass; every day's a school day. I teach adults evening classes in glass and school children from 9 to 16 years in mould making and glass at Saturday Arts Club too. Alongside working as a freelance glass artist undertaking commissions for awards and community arts projects. In my spare time I have been creating glass drop pendants (like the necklace I am wearing in the video) these are individually hand carved in wax so each one is completely unique. They have a negative space in the back, which I polish, it acts like a mirror, refracting light through the frosted front surface of the glass. They have proved very popular, so I have listed these amongst the rewards.
Recently I have been experimenting with a more challenging concept of combining the contradictory properties of glass- how it can be; strong and fragile, rigid and flexible, *flame-worked or *cold-worked and even bounce or shatter. *Casting and *fusing positive and negative spaces in glass creating egg forms.
I'm aiming to achieve a sense of tension and balance, to signify unification between the solid, polished and transparent and the hollow, fragile and opaque glass. These are amazingly tactile although extremely delicate, and time consuming to develop between teching and teaching. I am in need of a structured set of time purely devoted to experimenting, refining and taking this fledgling idea to the next level and beyond.
Stine Bidstrup and Benjamin Wright are the international artists and creative instructors for this course. "A finely crafted idea" is two and a bit weeks of glass blowing, *hot glass casting, mould making, imagery, and cold working, pushing and stretching my creative boundaries. Starting off with sketching immediate responses and ideas, moving through to modelling and realisation of concepts in glass. Combining my top notch mould making skills with scorching hot glass will no doubt result in new art work made with at least sweat and tears but hopefully no blood!
Wow to be fully immersed in glass, on a campus set in stunning woodlands just outside Seattle; I haven’t had the desire to travel abroad alone before, but with a destination and experience so incredible at the end of it, I am determined to get there.
"New and experienced artists alike often make tremendous conceptual and artistic progress in their short time at Pilchuck. Combining a deep focus on glass, access to a variety of resources, a picturesque Pacific Northwest setting, and an ever-expanding international community of artists, Pilchuck has become the most comprehensive educational center in the world for glass artists." http://pilchuck.com/about_us/about_overview.aspx
Now down to the Nitty Gritty, with the help of Plymouth College of Art staff development, the commissions I have done recently and my family I’ve paid the tuition fees ($4000 phew!). Just a few more details to sort out; return flights from London to Seattle approx. £960, airport transfers both sides £80, packaging and safe delivery of glass back to the UK roughly £100. A lovely new sketch book for all my ideas £10. (The rest 5% maybe more is swallowed up in fees).
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and feel free to share with your friends. Bye for now Amy.
*Casting (my favourite thing to do) The creative process is extremely hands-on; I begin by sculpting models in clay or wax, then I hand build moulds over the models, a process akin to making mud pies as a child. Once the clay or wax has been removed (lost) from the mould, I place transparent glass in a flower pot positioned above the mould inside a kiln ready to dribble-cast. The glass melts inside the flower pot and flows out of the hole in the base into the mould underneath. The mould may take over a week to be fired without a hint of what is occurring within...I’d compare opening the kiln and breaking away the mould to Christmas morning.
*Hot glass casting is instant and can be more spontaneous you can make moulds in special sand or using the above method and then glass is hot poured directly into the space.
*Flame-worked glass is a process which involves a torch or burner that is used to melt glass into small scale sculptural forms and/or beads.
*Cold-worked glass involves cutting. grinding, etching and polishing the surface of the glass to change its appearance normally using specialist equipment that has a water feed to keep the glass cool and stop it cracking.
*Fusing is kind of like cutting and sticking but with glass and a kiln that heats up to around 800 degrees.
Risks and challenges
The course I am attending is a mixture of hot glass, mould making, cold working and imagery, I haven't done any hot glass in a really long time so I am very excited about the prospect. I am there to learn and develop new skills as well and hone my existing set so this is just the beginning of a new creative journey for me.
If everyone pledges on the postcards then I'm totally up for writing them all and am determined to post them from the USA, it may be when I get to the airport terminal, but at least they will have an international stamp on them!
Carving and casting the glass drop pendants will be pretty straight forward once I get back to the UK. I will randomly carve a shape into the back of the pendant so it will be unique to you, If you have any preference then I should be able to accommodate, And postage shouldn't be a problem I have posted to Newcastle before with no breakages.
Making a glass egg for you will be fun, they can be technically challenging so these are the ones I may have difficulty with. Each one is unique, hand polished and extremely delicate, I haven't posted these yet but will use a courier and have them insured to get them to you in one piece. Both of the clear eggs have homes already, so be open to receiving an egg that is potentially a different colour and completely unique.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (18 days)