28 December 2015

drawing lines in the sky

drawing lines in the sky
A sunrise video from this morning, with planes drawing lines in the sky, the sun catching them and the wind diffusing them - this is my goodbye to 2015...  So happy to share this room with a view with you on the blog and in the photos (where you can watch a full screen version).

May 2016 bring you many new wonders and discoveries!

15 December 2015

mirror, mirror...

copper mirror
A copper gilded mirror (convex oval)

Next to the glass fur project and the research into clay to glass, I'm trying my hand at verre églomisé, the art of gilding glass.

Ever since we were introduced to goudleder - "Cuir de Cordoue", in Prof. Em. A. Bergmans class of History of interior, I've developed a fascination for gilded surfaces and am doing some research on it, especially (guess what...) how it's applied to glass. Even in the history of glass alone there is so much to discover... Do you recognise this mirror from a famous 15th century portrait? And did you know that this type of convex round mirror was called an "Oeil de sorcière" (witches' eye)?

The Arnolfini Portrait, détail (2).jpg
"The Arnolfini Portrait (mirror detail)" by Creator:Jan van Eyck - Image:Jan van Eyck 001.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Verre églomisé was a decorative technique, often combining the gilded surface with reverse painting (on the back of the glass), so that the glass itself can act as protection and lens (of sorts). Mind you, this wasn't the way functional mirrors were made in the past; since the Renaissance a tin-mercury amalgam was used to create a smooth reflective surface, and Venice was one of the manufacturing centers.

copper mirror
A detail of the copper mirror, seen on the back showing the bare metal leaf.

In using metal leaf, it is impossible to obtain such a smooth surface, but that doesn't matter. It is precisely the edges of the leaves, the tiny folds and crinkles that make the mirror seem more alive. Also it gives the opportunity to oxidise the metal so it darkens; you can already see this happening in some of the patches in the mirror detail above!)

The reflection of a gilded mirror is softer, almost painterly. I love this effect. Since there's so much going on with the reflection already, the form of the mirror doesn't have to be complex. The convex/concave distortion is interesting, and I'm working on some forms but still debating if I want them to be more organic or geometric...

For inspiration I've turned to Pinterest, with a collection of artistic and contemporary examples. Feel free to take a look!

12 December 2015

the glass fur project: untangling very carefully

glass fur

The little test dome I showed you last time has been fired. It was fun to revisit the techniques I had acquired for my research into historical pâte de verre (the wax dome itself was one of the models after Despret's that were left over!), but giving it a more personal and decidedly prickly twist.

glass fur
With the wax steamed out, only the glass pins remained embedded in the mould.

The glass pins that I had heated one by one in the flame of a candle and pushed into the wax, had all been embedded in the plaster/silica mould. The wax was steamed out and I added pâte de verre to the surface, and fired it in the kiln. Since it was such a small form, I did this in my own tiny Paragon SC3 kiln instead of the industrial ones at Sint Lucas. I hadn't used the oven in quite a while so I was happy to find out that everything still worked!

glass fur
The mould after firing (on the marble cement floor in the oldest part of the house).

Now, I knew the real fun would only start with removing the mould material from the fired glass... I couldn't just hack away the bits of plaster/silica and glass fibre, because the 1mm glass pins could so easily break. It needed a gentle approach...

glass fur
Slowly but surely...

Thanks to an old toothbrush and a couple of wooden toothpicks I eventually managed to not break every pin I had put on earlier. Heh. But it was tricky! The secret was mostly to soak it in warm, salty (soda) water for a couple of hours, and then the very gentle prodding began... it was a calm and precise work, taking care not to use too much pressure.

glass fur
Here you go: a glassy punk!

This is the result so far: a translucent dome partly covered with glass pins. It's a start; it already tells us a couple of things. I like the translucency so that it almost fades into the background...The surface looked almost blurred, only when you examine it from close by you see the "hairs".

But it needs more tweaking and experimenting. One thing I don't like is the diameter of the hairs, which look more like pins than fine hairs. This has to do with the proportions and if the model had been bigger it wouldn't have been such an issue. The plan is to scale it up.

Another thing is this quality that fur has; since it is embedded in elastic skin it moves and ripples with movement or draping. This I'd love to transfer to the glass fur too... So I'm experimenting with more elastic materials for the skin: transparent silicone and textiles.

To be continued!