Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Installation finished

The finished installation was successful. I had a call from the client saying he was thrilled by the result. He did not say "at last", but I did for him.

These photos show some of the windows created from the design of the door's fanlight.

The two above are the fourth and fifth rooms off the hall from the left to the right.

This is an image of the fanlight for the third room from the first.

A really nice part of the whole project was the request to design a window in keeping with the Arts Nouveau for the bathroom. This is a big window (approximately 1.4 metres by .9 metres). The object was to obscure the view inwards, but let a lot of light into the room. It is a very long corridor of a bathroom (Don't worry it is a dead end). This window is important in allowing natural daylight into the room.

I looked at a number of themes from the period. I used both books and my own images to come up with the modified water lilly theme shown below. The client agreed. And I began work. I enjoyed the process, although the leading is very complicated in places. I finished it in about a week and a half. So it was under priced, but more enjoyable than many other projects.

I am happy with the result and, more importantly, so is the client.

Installation problems

At last I have finished an installation of five fanlight windows in a posh Glasgow flat/apartment. The client wanted windows that reflected the time the building was constructed. This was during the full flowering of the Arts Nouveau.

There is a nice design in the fanlight above the door that is original to the flat, so I suggested this should be taken and adapted for all the fanlights around the central hall. The photo shows the existing design that I took to make "reproduction" windows.

All went well until it came to installing the windows. The facings on the openings ran from floor to the top of the fanlight. They were impractical to remove. So the spacing timbers had to be pried out of their location between the glass and the facings. Fortunately the glass could be sacrificed. It was truly horrible. I won't even consider putting a photograph up (not that I took one anyway). This then revealed that the size of the space was larger than allowed for by as much as 20mm in some cases.

The windows were manoeuvred into place by bending leads and panels. Then the windows needed extra strips of lead to keep them in place. Also because the spacing timbers had to be destroyed during the removal, I contracted a joiner to replace them. However he did not realise the importance of matching the spacing timbers to the lines of the facings.

The client called me back, because the panels must have slipped or something. In fact the panels were OK except for one which had genuinely slipped. In looking at the placings in the fanlights, I decided the best would be to remove the existing leaded windows, and make templates of the openings to enable me to remake the outside parts of each window. I got the joiner back to help take out the spacing timber.

Now I know how to do it much faster than before - destroy the timber with a chisel, rather than trying to pry it out. It always helps when you know your materials!

I took the templates on stiff card, and rebuilt the outer parts of the panels, using 16mm(5/16") lead came. This enabled me to bend the leaves of the top and bottom cames so the panels could slip into the opening through the facings. Then the effort was to straighten the flanges while in the opening. This is a two person job. One to hold the panel, the other to work the flanges. They all fitted.! One fitted so snugly that the bottom flanges had to be cut off. Now another firm of joiners is coming to fit a shaped spacer that will set off the windows very well.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Margins of the Day part 4

More of the series of "At the Margins of the Day". There is a shift to thinking about the margins between the water and the sky as the colour combination. These show some of these colour investigations.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Margins of the Day Continued

The series being developed by the phrase "at the margins of the day" is progressing. The concept of the margin is becoming more important to the images I am using.

In this one (below) that I have called "Leaves", the margin between the colourful and the black is my focus.

In this one, the focus is between the more red side and the dark blue side with the colourful activity on pale blue at the centre.

This landscape version is about the lowering of the night over the evening sky.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

At the Margins of the Day 2

The series of "At the Margins of the Day" continues. This is another is the investigation of colour and glass combinations. I have tentatively titled it "Dusk to Dark"

Fort William installation

At last I have completed the repair and installation of a large window in the Lime Tree Hotel, Fort William.

This is the outside of the window as I came to it on a Spring day. You can see the damage has been caused by the hinged panel blowing open an banging against the wall, shattering the glass. In addition to the pieces you can see are broken and missing there are many more cracked and damaged. When I got the panels out of the silicone that holds the panels to the metal frame, I found that at least 85% of the glass was broken. So it became a complete rebuilding and re-leading job, instead of a simple repair.

Still, as you can see from the view of the mountains at the head of Loch Linnie from the front of the Lime Tree, it was a nice day and worth the 2.5 hour drive from Glasgow.

The repaired panels installed give a dramatic end wall to the gallery that is part of the hotel complex.

This has been a protracted process as the glass is modern and should be available. The client wanted the same glasses to be used in the panels to be repaired, to ensure the continuity across all eight. The glass was ordered from various outlets and most of it received after a delay. Meanwhile the rubbings were converted into cartoons, and the panels taken apart and the glass that was able to be salvaged was cleaned. The glass that arrived was cut and prepared.

However one glass that appears in three of the panels was not available in the UK. This held up matters until the client (possibly in exasperation) said just put in a sympathetic glass. That permission enabled me to finish and install them in a further nine days (five of them waiting for the cement to stiffen). I called Jean Campbell of Studio Six on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula to help with the installation. Three hours after arrival, we were off to lunch, and then a 3.5 hour drive back to Glasgow because of the holiday and commercial traffic.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

At the Margins of the Day

Watching television is not always a waste of time. While watching a programme on how nature painting and drawings are made, an artist mentioned that to get good observations of the Canada Geese that he draws and assembles into paintings, he has to go out "at the margins of the day".

This made connections for me. It started me thinking about representing in abstract and colourful ways the "Margins of the Day". So I have begun investigations of ways of representing the idea. The image above is one of those simple initial investigations.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


Sometime you want to have bubbles in your pieces. Sometimes you don't. But you never want what I am getting recently. Large burst bubbles.

Kiln forming is often an unpredictable art, but mostly the variations should be small. Withing the last month my big kiln has begun blowing big bubbles. Like this one.

Most often these seem to come from underneath the piece but sometimes between layers. This is a piece I put in after I thought I had diagnosed and fixed the problem:

This has bubbles coming from under the piece and from between the layers. My practice has not changed as far as I can tell, from the past when there was no problem. I have checked on the density of the sand bed beneath the glass, by compacting it tightly. I have been very careful about level screeding of the bed. I have fired on both unfired and fired thinfire. I have fired smaller pieces and still got bubbles (see the piece at the top). I need my big kiln. I need to find out what is happening.

So I went back to basics and did a "Know your kiln" test from Bullseye . This showed me that the temperatures in my kiln are different than at the beginning of its short live (five years old now). The chamber is much h0tter at the back than at the front, rather than just a little. I phoned and found out that the elements are loose inside the ceramic tubes. This probably means that with me leaving the lid open when not in use, the elements have slowly compacted to the back of the kiln. This means that I have to take the top off the kiln, and remove 8 square metres of fiber blanket to get to the tubes that hold the elements. I then have to lift each of the 20 tubes and stretch the elements back into some sort of even-ness. I expect this will be a 2-4 day job, when I could be doing other things.

Even when this is done, I am not sure it will cure the bubble problem, as I am getting bubbles at the front and at the back both. Still, the elements must be sorted. And in the spirit of eliminating problems one at a time, I will get to the bottom of this!

Monday, 14 July 2008

New Display Area

In spite of my frustrations with the slumping of a large dome, I have advanced on preparations for the WASPS Open Studios Weekend - information at http://www.waspsstudios.org.uk/. By the way, my studio space before my occupation is shown on the right of the entrance through the two tall windows, one of which is a sliding door - great in the Summer.

I have decided to present some of the non-architectural work that I do in a more organised way, but without disrupting the operation of the studio. So I built a stepped plinth that can be viewed from the outside and allows people to move around inside the display too. An additional advantage of this arrangement, is that I increase my storage space, as I have put doors on one side of the plinths to take my crates of items waiting for distribution to galleries.

This image shows the view from the outside in the late afternoon sun. It features a range of the "flower" bowls that I have recently begun developing.

This shows the interior of the display that people will be able to walk into from the car park. Currently it shows a miscellaneous group of platters and "spiral" bowls. Soon this will be changed to another current series of works under the general title "Margins of the Day". The glass cases behind contain a miscellaneous collection of materials, and the windows a mish mash of maquettes etc.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Historic Restoration Prospects

I have recently been caled out to look at a stair window in poor condition with a view toward its restoration. It is in relatively poor condition with many broken pieces, and especially a completely missing portrait at the bottom. This is currently protected by a piece of yellowing perspex over the outside.

The ground of the window is of grissaille in the form of stylised sunflowers. This was a common theme in 1870's Glasgow and brought back through trade with the far east and especially with Japan where it also was a recurring theme.

So although this is a highly painted window, most of it is of relatively simple painting. The main skilled effort in the painting is to recreate the missing head (probably a woman looking toward the man. He appears to be in a Tudor style costume, so the woman must be in similar dress and historically correct hair style. The additional difficulty is to do the modern painting in a way that mimics the existing corrosion of paint on the existing head. There also is a requirement to recreate the sunburst at the head of the window, with doves flying across.

Of course, being on a curved staircase and being over 2.5 metres tall, this presents some problems in removing the four panels of which it is comprised.

The estimate is in and now it is time to wait until the decision is made on who is to conduct the restoration.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Frustrating day

Today has been frustrating.
I set up an aperture drop of 550mm diameter to drop 100mm. The glass was St Just red flashed. I don't know the characteristics of this glass in the kiln, so I chose 560C for 120 mins. This was based on the fact that 4mm float glass dropped 90mm in 120 mins at 630C.

I set the kiln up so that it would be reaching its top temperature at 10:00 to be sure I was around long before. After checking every 10 mins, I found it had only begun to slump after 100 mins. So I increased the temperature to 580, but after an hour there was no perceptible difference. Again I increased the temperature to 600C, but after 2 hours there was only about 30mm of a drop. So I tried 610C, but got little if any movement after an hour. Then to 620C and finally after a further two hours, I got my 100mm drop. So I got what I wanted after 7 hours rather than the two I planned on. All the other activities of the day were interrupted or postponed as I was virtually tied to the kiln.

I have now written this up so I should not have to go through another day with the alarm going off every 10 mins. Still, I did get to an exhibition opening before the doors were closed.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

SGS exhibition

I am pleased to report that I got two pieces into the Scottish Glass Society Annual Exhibition. The two pieces chosen are the ones following:

This one "Briar Rose" is a shallow bowl of 200mm diameter. I have made it by fusing pale blue opal under clear. I then sifted powders onto the glass and moved it around to give shading between each firing. I made some balls of glass and placed them on with some frit to make the centre and tack fused them to the bowl to give some texture.

"Australian Bloom" is based on a photograph of a flower that I took while in Australia. I have no idea what the flower's name may be, but was impressed by its shape and colour. Again, I used powders sifted onto the fused bases and pulled a needle through the powders before firing to give the impression of the veins. This is bigger at 400mm diameter.

I will see what the reactions are to these pieces at the opening.

Invitation to the Exhibition

I have received the invitation to the Annual Exhibition. I copy it below for your interest and if you can come, please do come to the opening or at any other time. There is a wide variation in styles and media represented by these people.

The 29th Scottish Glass Society Annual Exhibition

Please feel free to join us for the private view of our annual exhibition on

Sunday the 17th of August between 2-4.30pm at the Peter Potter Gallery

The show will run from the 18th of August until the 11th of September

33 members of the Scottish Glass Society will be represented: Emma
Butler-Cole Aitken, Kim Bramley, Sebastien Come, Elizabeth Cull, Junko
Eager, Carrie Fertig, Zoe Gadsby, Alec Galloway, Heather Gillespie,
Phillipa Headley, Siobhan Healy, Kate Henderson, Scott Irvine, Annica
Sandstom & David Kaplan, Jessamy Kelly, Alison Kinnaird, Karen Liversedge,
Bette McArdle, Judith McCrorie, Fiona McGarva, Emma McGarvie, Alison
McLeod, Graham Muir, Ian Pearson, James Denison Pender, Stephen Richard,
Carole Robinson, Alan Robinson, Amanda Simmons, Angela Steel, Sue Wilkinson
& Val Young

- Peter Potter Gallery - 10 The Sands - Haddington - East Lothian - EH41 3EY -
www.peterpottergallery.org info@peterpottergallery.org 01620 822 080
Opening times Monday-Saturday 10.00 - 4.30pm Sunday 12.00 - 4.30pm