20 July 2018

Fabrication 4

Sculpting has slowed down whilst I've been concentrating on the glass, but it's still coming along...

I'll send another update after the summer break.  Have a good one!

19 July 2018

Fused glass sessions

For the past few weeks I've been working with local students and residents to create the coloured glass background discs for the front of the Reach sculpture. 

We worked with fusing glass, adding different grades of crushed and powdered glass to build up layers of colour.

UTC Oxfordshire year 11 students selecting glass background pieces.

Aureus year 7 students adding coloured glass "frit".

I also ran two sessions at the Northern Neighbourhood Community Centre on GWP, where residents designed and made glass discs for the sculpture, and also experimented with different techniques to make their own fused glass artworks.

NNCC sessions

Glass discs ready for firing.

The glass really comes to life  once it has been fired in the kiln.  The powders become thin, subtle tints and the crushed glass makes intense spots of colours.  By mixing and layering the materials, you can get some beautiful results...

I love them!  They're a different kind of lush when back lit, but I couldn't get a decent photo of that; you'll have to wait until the sculpture's up to see!

23 May 2018

Fabrication 3

I've started adding the sweeping strips of metal that form the "skin" of the sculpture...

There's very little tolerance when getting the adjoining edges to align.  The most practical way is to make a cardboard template for each strip:

It's fairly demanding as even a gap less than a millimetre is quite obvious.   Also, as I work further along the fingers, access gets more and more restricted.  Fortunately, the front of the hand is full of holes which I can work through.

That does make for some particularly fiddly welding though!

Three-and-a-half fingers to go...

30 April 2018

Fabrication 2

The hand now has all it's fingers.

Adding a rounded edge...stainless steel rod bent and welded to follow the outline. 

All the welds will be internal, leaving a smooth finish on the outside.

Once the finger angles are adjusted I'll be able to begin the contour "projection" lines:

2 January 2018


I've now started making the sculpture itself.

The hand sections were water-jet cut from stainless steel sheet.  I'm introducing some gentle angles along the seams so the palm isn't completely flat.  

.Only six hundred holes to fill with etched glass designs!

18 December 2017

Glass test pieces

I've been experimenting with fusing glass test pieces in the kiln.  There's still some tweaking to do, but I'm happy with how it's coming on...

At night the sculpture will be illuminated internally, which is good, as back lit glass looks gorgeous.  But if you think of a church stained glass window, the colours don't show up from the outside, so I have had to come up with a system that works during the day when the glass is not illuminated.

I have tested layering up different types of translucent white glass with the coloured and clear glass so some colour and the etched images are clear when not back lit... 

It's not straightforward, as some of the colours are much more opaque than others (e.g. the green above), and some of the white glass changes the hue of the colour.  For example, opal glass is wonderful on reds/yellows, but makes blue glass appear brown when backlit! 

In the finished sculpture, the etched glass circles will form a coloured pattern based on a section of the Cosmic Microwave Background

15 November 2017

GEMS workshop

I spent a day with a year 3 pupils at GEMS Primary Academy on Great Western Park.

There will be hundreds of smaller glass circles in the final sculpture, and so I asked the children to make simple designs based on the elements (there are 118 known elements at the time of writing).

Here are a few of their element designs:

The school was doing a project on "metals" so I also ran a project with children making plaster casts of various different metal components.

The children then painted their plaster casts using a dry-brush technique with metallic paint, producing a lovely effect: