Commissioned by Electrolight Sydney we were asked to make a quantity of glass forms for three custom designed lighting solutions. The extensive refurbishment was to occupy three separate spaces within the Gateway Plaza, Circular Quay. The forms required impeccable precision to facilitate their installation into the specified manufactured fixtures.
One of the greatest challenges was the quantity and scale of the forms. Physically hot glass equipment is only so big and human capacity to manage the material only so much. To manage the quantity we decided to make a series of moulds, but firstly we needed to make the patterns, or positives. Josh threw the forms on the ceramic wheel, but how do you achieve such accuracy?
Now the positive was made Josh began the process of making 2 part moulds for each form, six moulds in total. The moulds needed to register perfectly, be absolutely symmetrical (no undercuts) and be full of 'airs' to facilitate the hot glass process.
I then travelled to Canberra Glassworks to blow the forms. Working with a highly skilled team of four in total we embarked on the job of blowing the quantity order.
We dominated the hot and cold shop once the forms started to appear from the lehrs. Each piece needed to be cut on the diamond saw, ground to a satin finish and most of the forms required a hole drilled in the bottom to facilitate the fixture.
The Bronze Milk Crate was created for Bespoke, an exhibition shown in conjunction with design exposition DEN Fair. 'DEN brings together the most inspiring collaborative of talent and brand names under one roof to create an unprecedented platform for the interior & design industry to connect and do business'.
Focusing on the brief from Bespoke directors; Respond to ‘the humble box’ we conceived the idea of celebrating the iconic milk crate. Impeccably designed for practicality, longevity, simplicity & user friendly the milk crate became our creative foundation. Understanding that Bespoke is a platform to display skill, craftsmanship and boundary pushing of your chosen material, we decided to work collaboratively towards the exhibit. The form was appropriately challenging with thin linear grids to negotiate, proving a very complicated execution of translating one material into another.
Once we decided upon a stylish crate we cut one side, made a rubber negative with plaster casing, we then cast four sides separately in wax to later construct them into the four sided crate seen here. This crate was then sprued with airs and given runners so that the mould could breathe and allow the bronze to flow.
It worked a treat, the material managed to find every thin linear section of the crate, the detail exquisite, now to polish her up and give a light patina.
We were commissioned by the Urban Perveyor Group to create life size Spanish mission bells for their new bar/restaurant El Camino. These large majestic bells originally cast in bronze stand approximately 700mm high and 750mm wide at their largest girth, the bells are often decorated with text, religious icons, ribbing and beautifully decorated eyelets that allow them to be suspended high within the church tower.
The client wanted a direct replica including an age old patina. We decided that we needed a pattern, a positive, from their we could make a rubber negative with casing and then produce the four positives from plaster. Plaster was chosen as a strong, malleable material, light in weight and posessing a surface which would respond well to colouration.
Josh created a coil style vessel 720mm diameter and rising to 700mm in height. As he coiled he smoothed and shaped the form to replicate the bell. Once the foundation was made we moulded clay crosses and hand cut letters in Spanish font to spell El Camino. Now the positive was finished it was time to create a rubber negative with plaster casing.
Plaster positives were then cast, reinforced and coloured to look like bronze.
JUMP - National Mentoring Program for Young & Emerging Artists
In December 2010, Adelaide based glassblower Amanda Dziedzic approached me to be her mentor for a 9 month Jump National Mentoring program in 2011. I had met Amanda on several occasions, she had struck me as vivacious, charismatic and somewhat on the pulse, I thought ‘what a great idea’. Co-incidently the notion of having an Adelaide based team member worked extremely well for the development and execution of several projects that were brewing at my end, namely the Adelaide Fringe. Amanda became instrumental in confirming the venue, organising teams and also played a key role in the production of the work during the intense week of making at the Jam Factory.
This ongoing relationship has flourished into several visits by Amanda to Lobe where she has helped me spin my Sustainable Stubby production and shared cocktails in our forever growing veggie garden.
I recently ventured back to Adelaide to join her during her Artist in Residnece fortnight at the Jam Factory, Amanda was focused on developing work for a SALA exhibition scheduled in August, she also found time to mentor the associates in the development of their design/production/work. Amanda’s recent work is beautifully poetic with foliage weaving their way through vessels, sharing openings and spouts creating a landscape of fluid activity.
For images and text on Amanda’s latest developments please visit Amanda’s blog: Little Bird Big Chip
In February, I travelled to Adelaide to create & install a site specific mobile at the newly revitalised Fringe Hub, Electra House.
In conjunction with this event I directed a special project as part of the Jam Factory, Glass Workshop, Associates program. The team of seven worked industriously in the 5 day workshop to create more than 100 Venetian style chandelier components for the project. I was also accompanied on the project by Amanda Dziedzic who initiated a mentor/mentee relationship as part of JUMP the National Mentoring Program for Young & Emerging Artists.
The installation affectionately named Florence is a kinetic mobile spanning an estimatd 7 metre diameter and suspended approximately 6 metres high. The conceptual essence of the work is one of a model representing the dynamism of a sustainable community; the matrix of the stainless steel brings individual components together to form a whole. Similarly to the experience of making, the participants worked closely as a team, embracing the project holistically, knowing & understanding that the bigger picture would not be complete without their humble & vital contributions.
The venue, Electra House is a majestic 3-storey historic building located at 131 King Willliams St, central Adelaide and has been recently transformed from a derelict squatters outpost into a dynamic Fringe hub by the infamous Tuxedo Cat.
The venue posed a perfect environment for Florence making direct reference to Victorian history and the height of the renaissance when chandelier’s were an indication of wealth and opulence, but now, in our contemporary perception of prosperity we are lucky this building continues to exist, hours of dirty labour have transformed the graffiti walled venue to it’s new glory… a fringe hub created by the community for the community.
The venue was opened alongside Florence on the 18th February by the Right Honarable Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood. The venue hosts four performance spaces, a spectacular ballroom with bar & a beer garden with a very special caravan & olive tree.
A very heart felt thanks to; Tuxedo Cat, Jam Factory, Jam Factory glass workshop studio management team, Joshua Rowell, Amanda Dziedzic, Jess Fisher, Christian Hall, Jaan & Danny and of course the associates; Kristel Britcher, Andrea Fiebig, Madeline Prowd, Emma De Brabent, Andrew Ferguson, Emma Klau & Katherine Plunkard who without them this project would not have been possible.
Things That Make You Smile was a community arts project initiated by Mount Erin Secondary College, Frankston involving ten local primary schools. Each grade six student from each local primary school was asked to create a drawing depicting the things that made them smile. These drawings were then translated into glass tiles by Mount Erin College students. Through this six month project the students learnt how to cut & grind glass, translate designs, compose pictures and fuse glass. The brief was simple: What makes you smile? The response to this question was heart warming as we discovered that the things children enjoy are still those moments of innocence and happiness that we can all relate to. Friendship, family, parties and Christmas Animals, nature, flowers and trees Oceans, beaches, forests and fields Sunshine, rainbows, snowfall and rain These name but a few of the things that make children smile.
As the finale; 200 glass tiles and more than 1000 children’s drawings were installed and exhibited at the Frankston Arts Centre in February 2010. The exhibition was opened by Arts Victoria and was well attended by proud participants, their families, Mt Erin faculty and the excited public who all enjoyed live music from the high school band and refreshments.
This project was made possible through funding from Arts Victoria, the tireless efforts of the Mount Erin College Arts faculty and was directed by myself, Ruth Allen.
Late in 2009 I applied to assist Canadian artist Penelope Stewart to actualise her project of turning a traditional Bee Skep into glass. The Bee Skep was made from rye straw and was the form used to transport bees before the 13th century, later the hive design developed into the square wooden box we are familiar with today. Penelope’s time was limited so I decided to create the mould to produce her waxes prior to her arrival into the country. For this complicated task I employed the services of Josh as he makes intricate moulds professionally at the bronze casting foundry, Meridian.
It was a very tricky mould because Penelope wanted the texture of the inside as well as the out, the form narrowed from a girth of 35cm to an aperature of approx 25cm creating a substantial undercut. We needed to make a rubber mould of the inside and out, which meant we needed to make plaster support moulds for both. The outside was straight forward, the form cut in two, symetrically, the inside however was a complicated equation of five seperate pieces including a key stone that locked the internal tightly together. Once the rubber was made we could remove the original Skep, replace the mould and cast a wax positive.
Once Josh and I had proven that the mould worked, I travelled to Canberra Glassworks (CGW) to rendevous with Penelope and commence the secondary process of casting the Skep into glass. We made a new wax at CGW to make sure Penelope was comfortable with the process, the idea was, Penelope would return to Canada with the mould and use it in further projects.
The wax skep was then invested into a refractory mould that could withstand temperatures of up to 1000 celius for a period of time (approximately 12 hours), allowing the glass melt into the detailed of the mould. I aptly chose the honeycomb technique for this job, a methodology of mould making developed world renown caster by Helen Stokes. It is light, strong and flexible, I had hoped that it would be flexible enough to cope with the shrinkage of the material as well as strong enough to hold without splitting.
We had good results even though the two moulds that we attempted in Penelope’s time both cracked during the cooling process. In both cases the glass split into three equal pieces making it clear that this was due to shrinkage, I believe it was the hard refractory layer placed on the very inside. It is certainly not easy to achieve such a complicated project first time we hope to continue this project, funding permitted to work through the final issues and achieve a cast in one piece.
I cleaned up the pieces through a series of coldworking processes and then glued each work together, images of the final works and further information about Penelope Stewart can be found following this link.
In October 2007 I was appointed Director of the 2008 Williamstown Art & Culture Festival.
This 6 month contract included the raising of $85,000 sponsorship (within a 3 month period) and the coordination of a 2 day, 2 evening event for an estimated 15,000 people.
Holding the only employed position I sourced and coordinated up to 16 volunteers to facilitate the desired brief from the advisory board, council, key stakeholders and the community.
The event included; A 2 day music program of local and Melbourne based musicians. Multi-Cultural Community Carnival celebrating identity, culture and talents of local community groups. A Circus Tent with programmed acts requiring varied audio & visual support and specialized OH&S attention. Stallholders presenting Art & Crafts and exotic foods from around the world. A Sustainable Solutions Showcase displaying latest technologies for the residential home or business and an educational inter-active forum led by influential speakers in the field. Community activities including Yoga for kids, Tai Chi and an elaborate Community Parade.
My responsibilities included the management of performers, community groups, stallholders, venues, contractors, police, security, road closures and addressing local trader’s interests. I coordinated local venues with proposed community projects and programmed these community initiatives within the festival guide.
Working with a team of volunteers I produced an A5, 32 page glossy festival guide compiled for a publication of 5000 prior to the event which was distributed throughout Melbourne.
Media Release; The 31st Williamstown Festival held on the 13th – 15th April 2008 has been deemed the most successful festival in 5 years, celebrating the quintessential festival life by supporting community, nurturing cultural diversity & experiencing art.
The Festival held back the predicted rain on Friday night with the outdoor cinema screening of Ratatouille generously put on by the SUN Theatre, parents and children flocked to enjoy the warm entertaining family affair.
Thousands passed through Commonwealth Reserve on the weekend to join in the festivities. Saturday brought joyful scenes as children and families enjoyed the circus stars who were invited to share their talents within the vibrant circus tent which was hand made and exquisite in detail. Performers woooooed the crowd with death defying acts including sword swallowing, hoola-hooping, flying acrobatics and hand stands sending shivers up & down your spine.
Kareem the life size elephant dazzled spectators as they wondered ‘is she real? Does she really weigh 7 tonne?’ the crowd moved closer and gasped with delight when sprayed with water from her trunk.
The Mobil Main-stage was a constant source of entertainment with well known local acts such as Nicky Bomba, the Mannish Boys, Andy Kirkland, & Kobya. The final rich performance of the evening was Deborah Conway and Willy Zeiger and definitely a crowd favorite.
Saturday night was complete with the Port of Melbourne Fireworks Display dazzling the crowd for yet another year, back dropped by our stunning bay and the cityscape.
Sunday hummed like a hive; art and craft stalls were back-to-back creating a thriving atmosphere of delights to look, touch, play and even eat. The Multi-Cultural carnival held an impressive line-up of community groups performing song and dance as well as workshops, this diversity was also reflected in tantalizing tastes from Jamaica, Turkey, Ethiopia & beyond.
Nelson Place stopped traffic and parted the crowd with the grand Parade. Local schools showed off their hard work from a month of workshops with circus performers creating costumes, a musical soundscape and circus tricks of the trade.
Many of Williamstown local traders had put on a special treat for the influx of visitors over the weekend bands played in cafes & bars. Blunt’s Boatshed hosted a celebratory 150 years boat show including a 42ft WAKA ( Maori war canoe) & art proliferated establishments from the Art in Public Places program facilitated by Hobsons Bay City Council.
A great weekend was had by all and concluded with the infamous cannon firing on Sunday afternoon sending a sound blast throughout ones skin & bones, a little something to remember.
Lost wax casting is not my forte although I was taught the complex methodology at Canberra School of Art during my undergraduate. The commission was timely as I had been dreaming of forms I believed would only be achievable using this process, it was a good opportunity to launch myself into the technique whilst forfilling the commission.
I approached dear friend Helen Stokes who is a master of this technique. Helen coached me through her unique and self discovered honey comb technique of mold making. We were not completely successful on the first attempt, fortunately I had made a latex negative of the original wax form and could reproduce this positive. The opportunity to cast the piece twice invited a fresh start, I had originally made the wax to look like glass thinking that I would polish the form and it be as mirror, once experiencing the results of this I realized it was far more interesting to make the glass look like wax, which is what I proceeded to do.
The Boat is cast from rhubarb coloured Bullseye crystal, this magical material changes colour according to different light, in sunlight the work appears pink/purple and in artificial light the work turns a gorgeous leaf green (difficult to appreciate here in these photos).
45 x 17 x 33cm
Photo credit; Andrew Bacham