Saturday, 28 February 2009


I am still working with simple shapes and allowing them to suggest things to me. In this case I started with a long simple shape - the darker blue below - and while playing added another shape. The two together reminded me of flight whether of birds or of fish.

Soaring in the Current
Another set of combinations called for a circular container with opposing pairs, circling round each other.


Friday, 27 February 2009


I continue to be fascinated by the use of simple shapes to build an image, theme or idea. This time I chose a simple shape of two curves - one a simple curve and the other a compound curve. I began playing with them and came up with a shoal.

Shoal 1
Further playing produced a variation, producing opposing and interacting pairs.

Paired Shoal
Further application of these shapes and a few other random shapes lent themselves to this oval.

Shoal 4

In doing these things I sometimes think of Christopher Alexander's "The Nature of Order". I have only read the first book, and that took quite a while. Perhaps sometime I will give my reactions - for what they may be worth - on his theory. Anyway, the patterns I develop are initially done without concern for obvious aesthetic, but as I begin to adjust and slightly re-arrange things, some of his comments about pattern, repetition and flow do come to mind. Although I wish they would not. They interrupt the flow of what I am trying to do - be spontaneous - too much. Too much theory gets in the way, unless it can be so woven into practice that it is instinctive.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Lansdowne Church

Just recently I along with others, was given access to Lansdowne Church, Glasgow by a group of photographers interested in the future of the building. It is one of two spires along Great Western Road, a major road from the city centre to the west. The building has a good architectural heritage - Mackintosh was later a member of the Honeyman practice. From my standpoint, the greatest interest are the surviving windows of Alf Webster.

However there are other windows of interest too. So before cleaning up my pictures of the Webster windows still installed, I would like to show some of the other windows. The church because of its orientation has no East Window, and so in unusual. The West window, over the (now disused) entrance to the church faces onto the River Kelvin and so is open with no buildings to diminish the light. It is a very formal affair, possibly installed at the time of building, and does not take advantage of the amount of light that is available in the evenings.

As you can see it has a lot of formal grisaille with three figures.

On the left is Moses

In the centre Christ

And I am sure someone will tell me who this is on the right.

These are windows typical of the period just before the aesthetic movement began about 1870. Formal decorative elements with little narrative or drama are typical of the period.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Dowanhill Heritage Trail

I have just discovered this leaflet describing a walk around a part of Glasgow's west end architecture.

It gives a route and short description of notable buildings in the area. This is one of five walks for the West End.

The reason for bringing this to your attention is that I have worked on both of the buildings featured in the main picture on the front of the leaflet. I first worked on the bow with the lantern above in 2005 and the house next door, of which you can see only part of the bow, two years later.

These leaflets were prepared by the Friends of Glasgow West with assistance from the Glasgow City Heritage Trust and Lottery funding. Further information about the leaflets can be obtained from Ann Laird

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Leaded Glass Adaptations

I just discovered a photo of an adaptation I made for a client in Larkhall.

This now occupies the fanlight over a door, although it started life as two separate "Peep-overs" as those in the West of Scotland often call these privacy panels that were often installed at the bottom of ground floor windows. This reduced direct vision into the house. Possibly because we have so few sunny days, we like to keep our curtains open at all hours. In the spring and autumn, you can have great entertainment just walking along the street and looking in at the interior decorations of the houses.

In this case these had been removed from the original house and purchased by my client's sister. The object was to adapt the pieces that had curved tops to the fanlight opening and put a red border round the whole. I am pleased with the result and, more importantly, so is the client

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Blue Flower

Another recuring theme over the past months has been the series of flower bowls. This is another in that series. I chose the image to represent the trumpet-like centre of the flower surrounding the stamen. It also held the challenge of representing the delicate blue and white of the petals and the edge of the central trumpet.

Blue Petals

Sunday, 15 February 2009

A Sunset

Again the "At the Margins" creeps in. This platter represents to me the few moments that the sun rests above the horizon. It shortly begins to distort and sink below, leaving a darkening sky, with the undersides of the clouds tinted.


Some of you may have noticed a deterioration in the quality of the pictures here. This is due to my discovery that a number of downloads of pictures from this blog has been occurring. So to reduce the quality of the download results for those who wish to make use of the pictures, has meant a reduction in the quality of the images presented to you here.

Friday, 13 February 2009


I continue to play with simple forms and let them take me where they seem to go.

I have used two variations of a simple sinuous form. One tapers at the ends, and the other is square cut. This first version with the tapered form seemed destined to be arranged on a circular form and represent to me the repetition of a dance movement.

Dancers 1

I also created a variation of the tapered sinuous form in black iridescent glass. This seemed to me to requrie a completely different form to contain the shapes. Again the theme is dance, but the form of the dance requires the platter to be shaped to reflect the interior.

Dancers 2

By combining shapes from different ends of the sheet, a vairation in tone was achieved. Again, the platter's shape needed to reflect the interior, but in a slightly different way.

Dancers 3

This series of pieces is providing me with enjoyment and a distinct way of working. It goes from the choice of a simple shape or pattern and grows outward in a playful manner toward an expression of a external but un-realised world.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

At The Margins again

In sorting through my glass for use with the oval platters, I came across a piece that reminded me of the "At the Margins" series. This series seems to recur or pop up at intervals. This reminds me of the laminar flow that you see in wind tunnels. Or it could be a violent atmospheric disturbance. I enjoy the ambiguity.

Flow Boundaries

Monday, 9 February 2009

More Leaves

I have continued with my series of "parts". Continuing the theme of leaves, I made the shape much more abstract, so that it could represent different things in different contexts. In this case, a small oval platter was created with the forms arranged along the length. this provided a leaf form.

Plant Form 1

I took the theme a bit further, by selecting a piece of glass with a strong line running through it, providing a stem like structure for the forms to align to. So this has provided:

Plant Form 2

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Leaf patterns

Now that I have completed my back log of restorations and repairs, I have been devoting some time to putting things into the kiln while I think of the realisation of the piece for the SGS exhibition.

I began an exercise of using "parts" to make up the designs. In these I took the shapes of some leaves and cut a number, leaving the decision of how to place them until a required number had been cut. The number required was determined by tossing each one as cut onto the base glass providing an almost random pattern. Of course, I could not resist arranging a few in a better way! The first reminds me of the current scene out doors. There is greenery around, but frost on the ground. These brown leaves have a reminder of frost on their surfaces.

Autumn Leaves

Using the same leaf shapes, I continued to cut and distribute the shapes over the base glass. This time, I varied the colours of the shapes and added some shading.

Green Leaves

This exercise has provided a couple of pleasing square platters and begins to lead me away from the rigid requirements of restoration, repair and reproduction.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Translating Paintings

Every once in a while an artist comes into the studio to ask me to translate a sketch, a painting, or sometimes an idea into glass. Abbi sent her husband to me a few months ago to enquire if I could cast a fan coral image into glass. We went over the possibilities and an drawing was made to consider. The drawing was translated into carved out fibre board, and the glass frit poured into it and fused at about 850 for three hours. It came out pretty well.
The next project was to have two of her paintings translated into glass of the same dimensions (ca. 360 x 720mm each). The paintings were brought to me as references:

Abbi's paintings
So I began working on them, choosing glass that would be similar. Each morning when she came to work, she stopped by to see the progress (if any) and comment on what was available to see.
I decided that since these would be standing in a base on a plinth, that they should be 9mm thick, requiring dams to restrict their flow. I also decided to to fuse the main colours flat and then add frit to give some variegation in colour to the whole in a second firing. After seeing the flat fusing Abbi decided that more frit was required and of a variety of colours, especially on the stems.
The result of this collaboration can be seen below:

You can also see that sometimes we get a little snow, even though we are the same latitude as Moscow. Good old Gulf Stream - don't fail us now!
I don't know Abbi well although she has been working in the building for about five years now. She is confined to a wheel chair by some wasting disease. It is much more difficult to understand her speech now than earlier and she no longer can propel her chair by herself. In spite of these difficulties, she is preparing for an exhibition in mid March.
This has been a good collaboration for me. In spite of her difficulties, Abbi has continued to work at her art. It is an encouragement for me - one; to stop moaning about difficulties and two; to continue with optimism.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Acceptance for Exhibition

I just got notification yesterday that I have been accepted for a travelling exhibition organised by the Scottish Glass Society. It will travel round Scotland and then go to England. The piece is still to be made, as the proposals were to be made on the basis of the theme "Migrate".

I must be better at writing these things than I thought. The proposals were judged on the basis of up to six images of past work and the written proposal. My proposal was:

Working Title: “Is She Safe To Travel In?”

Migration removes the sense of place that people grow up with. It changes their sense of identity as they attempt to fit with their new environment.

The boat shape is a traditional symbol of hope for migrants. It takes them to new lands. It removes them from their origins and takes them to another where they hope for a different and maybe better place. It does not always work.

It is a symbol of the migration of not only people, but of goods and materials often from less wealthy parts of the world to the most wealthy. The materials migrate not only in place, but in often in shape and in function.

The shape also is a symbol of our migration from conception to life.

In all these the shape represents a dark anticipation of an uncertain future.


The boat shape will be a dark rough top surface with polished sides showing dark veils penetrating the hull. It will be set on the boat builder’s forms on the slipway waiting to be launched.

The boat will be cast in a press mould. Dark frit on the surface will form the veils as it moves with the cullet to form the solid hull. The hull will be polished to reveal the interior.


The images I submitted were the Australian Bloom, Dream Time 1, and three images I have not shown here before:

Blue Wave

Fissured Earth


Standing Stone

Now all I have to do is make it!