Friday, 14 December 2012

Debt Recovery

Yesterday afternoon was finished with an intense period of near panic.

No, I didn't have a debt go bad.  I had a debt collector phone me saying he was from Moss Recoveries and that I owed a bill of £3,900+ to an internet directory company.  Apparently I agreed in early 2011 to a service to keep me on the first page of Google enquiries at £99 + VAT per month and this had by now accumulated to this amazing number.

In spite of my protests at knowing nothing about the company, contract or service they insisted this was the last day I could settle the debt without going to court.  So Moss Recoveries suggested I should contact the business owner on his mobile so some arrangement could be made for payment.  At 4:00pm my bank is normally shut down so paying that day was out of the question.  "Oh, no.  Your bank stays open until 5:00pm at this time of the year."

The discussion with the owner was inconclusive.  Immediately after the conclusion of the discussion with the owner, saying that he would accept no delay in payment "Why would I let you escape for another 12 months when I have you now?" the person from Moss Recoveries phoned asking what resolution had been achieved.

I wanted to have the documents that it was indicated would be sent to me special delivery to substantiate the claim that I owed this enormous amount of money.  They would not allow any delay.  If I did not pay today, they would go to court and the sum owed would be £7,000+.  For some reason I asked what if I did not have the money to pay in full.  The response was that if I paid half now, I would get half of the papers.

At this point I decided that I would fight this.  They had me call a mobile number rather than a land line. They called me on a telephone number which could have been found at any time in the last 24 months. They had my correct address all this time and did not attempt to communicate with me except to a discontinued email address.  Something was not right.

So I told them I was going to talk to my solicitor.  Their parting shot was that they would see me in court.

The solicitor (after I described the incident) said that this probably is a scam, but that nothing can be done but wait to see if papers come for a court appearance.  They need to give at least 7 clear days before the court date to allow me to come to an arrangement for settlement.

I think it is a scam.  The company Moss Recoveries is not findable on the web.  They were never clear about the name of the internet directory company.  But I will have to wait.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Presentation Trophies

I've recently finished four glass trophies - gold, silver and bronze - with one for a special award.

This is them on the table at the presentation.  They still have to get their bases as they were commissioned only two weeks before the presentation.  

They will be finished off with wood bases having a plaque with the winners' names.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Golf Clubs and Windows Don't Mix

They don't mix even when they are plastic and swung by three-year olds.  Only one pane was shattered, but because the came is so narrow, the whole window had to come out.

The shattered pane is to the left and below the bottom left rondel in the right hand panel.

Now the difficulty is finding a lightly tinted green glass to match so the whole subtle arrangement of tinted glass is maintained.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Lincoln Cathedral Conservation

Reports have reached me that the conservation of medieval windows in Lincoln Cathedrals below the "Bishop's Eye" window will begin in 2013.
A press report is here

Tom Kupper gives additional information for people more involved with stained glass:

"Proposed conservation of four medieval stained glass windows at Lincoln Cathedral

Considering the environmental impact and vulnerability of unprotected medieval glass attention has now been turned on the conservation and preservation of four medieval lancet windows underneath the magnificent Bishops Eye rose window in the south west transept of Lincoln Cathedral, England.

The Lincoln cathedral glazing department has visually monitored these historic windows for several years in terms of deterioration and the rate of corrosion. After a routine survey it was found that the glass is continuing to decay and not being protected from the external environment by a protective glazing system the historic glass is baring the full brunt of the Lincolnshire weather, airborne corrosive pollutants and lately some mindless vandalism. So much so that one of the medieval lancets has been the subject to some mayor damage in 2008 with an intruder breaking out of the cathedral smashing a sizeable hole through the historic glass.

This laughable action has brought the four lancets firmly back into focus and a condition survey of the windows was carried out.

In assessing the vandal damage the glazing department swiftly established that any restoration cannot just deal with the damaged panel in isolation and one ought to consider conserving the entire lancet. Which in turn highlighted the fact that once the conservation project is off the ground the other three reaming lancets also need to be taken into consideration and bought into a program too? The glazing department is now proposing, for the four medieval windows underneath the Bishops Eye rose to go through a full conservation and preservation cycle which, because of its complexity, could last up to 4 years with an estimated total cost of £550 000.

However, before the windows can undergo the conservation processes there are several key issues which we need to be discussed before a conservation policy can be writing.

1. Restoration of the vandal damage within the central area in one of the lancets.

2. Conserve the four medieval lancets, the historic ferramenta and the original oak timber frames and keeping the three elements together.

3. Establish a pre & post monitoring research program by investigating the environmental conditions in and around the area of the windows.

4. Protect the lancets with an internally ventilated glazing system and finding a visually acceptable external finish for the protective glass.

5. Form an Anglo-German research partnership to investigating the chemical makeup of the historic glass and to search for appropriate cleaning techniques specifically designed for the four lancets.

These five key points all raise of course several more separates philosophical and ethical issues which need to be further addressed by the Dean and Chapter’s approval committees before the project becomes live in 2013."

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Parade Artists' Christmas Show

The following images show some of the items that will be on display during the weekends of 24-25 November and 1-2 December.

In addition there will be felted works, cards and jewellery.  Refreshments by Supper in Suburbia.  I hope you can come to see the wide variety of work.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Christmas Shows

After some hesitation, I will be joining in the Parade Artists Christmas Show.

This show will include ceramics, textiles, fine art, cards, glass and various forms of jewellery.  Supper in Suburbia will be doing the food and refreshments again this Christmas - worth coming for them alone!
I hope I will see a number of you there.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Web Site and Nursery

The last few weeks I have been working almost exclusively on the new website.  It is still in development, but the main structure is now visible.

Most of the work has been done on filling the shop with information about glass.  There still is a lot to enter, but I feel that I am now over the most intense part of the work.

One interesting thing (to me) about the process of testing the site was my list of comments and queries.  On the first day I completed a page and a half of material.  On the second day, I almost filled one page. But the next three days I completed only half a page.  At the first the comments were about details of how to do things and the consequences of doing them.  Recently, the questions have become much more about the experience of the site both for me at the back of the site and for the user.  My viewpoint has moved from the detailed to the much broader view.  This is interesting to me because, I have thought my general approach was from the broad brush to the detail.

But now I need to think about other things.

I have had a nursery class come to the studio - not all at once - to see the way glass will be put together for their fused windows for Hagred's House in their playground.  They each also talked about the picture they had made for me to translate into the glass.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Stained Glass Supplies Ltd

I have been less active on this blog in the last months as I have been preparing for another change in my working life.

I have decided to take my practice toward gallery work rather than the restoration and architectural work that has dominated my life up to now.  And to support that activity, I have been preparing to open a shop supplying glass, advice, and services.

This is what has been behind the various construction activities that I have shown here since Christmas last year.  I have now recast the studio into two parts - shop and studio.

This is the entrance to the shop and studio on a dull day.

This area at the immediate entrance was filled today with Spectrum 96 frit, confetti, and stringer, so it does not look so bare as this.

This shows a corner of the cutting bench and some of the glass racks for S96 and stained glass, as well as the "office" section at the end.

One corner and the entrance to the glass studio are show in this picture.  The group of rods on the floor need to be tidied and possibly relocated, but they do for the time being.

The racks at the end are for pre-cut Bullseye, S96 and stained glass pieces.

Included in all this work has been the design brief for and then population of a new website and shop.  I knew there was a lot of work to this, but not how much.  The new site is at:
Have a look around if you are interested.  And even better tell me of anything that does not look right.


The official launch of Stained Glass Supplies will be on the weekend of 6-7 October.  Those of you who can make it are invited to come for a gander, talk and some refreshments.

In addition, the whole of the building is opening the artist studios on Saturday and Sunday from 11- 4.  This is a great opportunity to see a variety of work and the ways and places in which the artists do their work.  Painting in a variety of styles, textiles, ceramics, photography, sculpture, glass working are all on show.  In addition there are drawing sessions and a treasure hunt.  And to keep you going, there is a cafe serving light snacks and refreshments.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Standing Stone

My glass "Standing Stone" is now installed at Ravenswood, in Kilmelford on Loch Melfort. 

View toward land

View over Loch Melfort

This finally is a good site for the piece to continue its life. With its references to pictish, celtic and christian symbols and cultures it is a statement about the changing cultures in the continuity of the landscape 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Etched Glass Repaired

The etched glass that was broken during a burglary has now been recreated and installed.

You may remember its appearance when broken.

Now it has been etched and ground and put into place:

The newly etched pane installed into the door.

It matches well with the original:

The finished door

The owner is pleased, although the insurance company has not yet paid.  

Thanks are also due to Brian Waugh who did much of the work of re-creating the image.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Aachen Cathedral

A recent tour took me to Aachen where I visited the cathedral (Dom).  This is the most important church for the Carolingian Empire as this is where the Kings were crowned.  The central domed part of the cathedral is the original structure (at least as original as it can be after the destructions of the mid 20th century).  The other parts are additions at different times.  The walk way between the central part of the building and the tower are used when the important artefacts are displayed to the public.
Aachen cathedral from Rathaus
Although the cathedral is near the summit of the steep hill, it is surrounded by the city and ancient town.  You get glimpses of it from various points.

View of the cathedral from one of the squares

View of the side from a square at the side
The cathedral is surrounded by numerous buildings, some of which are part of the ecclesiastical property, such as the treasury.  This is now a museum and repository of the most important artefacts of the cathedral.
Present day cathedral Treasury
The traditional approach to the cathedral is through the gates at the side of the Treasury.

Traditional entrance
The tourist entrance of course is at the side of the tower.  Next to the entrance is a window with unusual stone work.  It seems to represent a sword or a staff lying on its side.  It forms the entrance to a side chapel of significant size that can be seen in front of the tower in the general view of the cathedral.

The surroundings of this window and the one above the tourist entrance show the effects of weaponry upon the side of the building.

Window above the tower entrance
The interior is massive, both in terms of its height and its columns.  It is highly decorated with lavish use of gold leaf, and paintings.

Of course you must remember this is a re-creation of the dome as the shelling of the allies caused the rooves of the cathedral to collapse.  However, a different approach was taken with the windows.  They are as in many German churches, 20th century windows.

Central portion of the nave
 The windows of Aachen cathedral are largely colourful grisaille-like windows, with central narrative windows.  The image below is an example from the left central portion of the nave.

The sides of the nave are richly coloured, but still allows a lot of light into the church because of the extreme height of the windows.

Left side of the nave

Right side of the nave
The chapel at the left side of the tower entrance contains a number of narrative windows, but only one of them can be seen through the glassed in restrictions.  This window seems to contain a number of images from Christ's young life.
One of the side chapel windows

This certainly is one of the great cathedrals, and if you are in western Germany, it is worthwhile to visit.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Studio Re-arrangements

During all the experimentation with various forms and materials (see previous posts), I have been re-arranging the studio.  The aim is to concentrate the glass into one end of the studio and open out the space for the benches.

This has meant the expansion of the glass space I created at Christmas time.

 The glass racks have now expanded to fill the wall on one side, with a large illuminated work supported above it.

Of course there is never enough storage, so the other side of the area has been racked with some glass placed and the remainder left for the additional glass and completed panels.

The other end of the studio has had the benches re-arranged (and one has proved to be redundant).  This photo shows two people who have taken the studio over for the weekend to do a variety of work for Summer and Autumn shows.  Also note the high level shelves on the left have been coveredto present a slightly cleaner appearance to the studio.

A few more alterations and I will be finished.  For this year.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Merchant City Festival, Glasgow

I will be participating with Parade Artist at the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow this weekend, 28 and 29 July.

This shows some of the variety of work available from painting, glass, ceramics, and textiles.  Everything is reasonably priced and portable.  And we have a credit card machine so there is no limit on your spending power.

There are lots of events going on in the Merchant City at the Festival, so if you can get to the centre of Glasgow at the weekend, come along and experience a variety of things.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Glasgow Underground

This seems to have been a time for miscellaneous projects.

The latest has been to fire transfers onto very large ceramic tiles for the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport to be placed on a wall of the Hillhead Underground Station. These have been designed by Alasdair Gray and the project is managed by Perfect Circle.

A peek at the fired pieces:

Some of the pieces cooling in the kiln

Some more pieces waiting to come out 

Another kiln load

These tiles are the largest I have ever seen (I suppose about 1000 mm by 600mm).  They are porcelain made in Italy and then water jet cut in Glasgow before being fired to remove the anti-graffiti coating and then having the transfers added.

Unfortunately there were several breakages due to the acute angles cut into the tiles.  The use of a 4 mm drill at the apex of the cut proved to be enough to stop the breaks.  So now it is up to the tilers - who will only be able to work from midnight to 5:00am - to get them up without breaking any of them.  It may be a large demand.

I have seen the image of the whole and it will be an impressive sight when installed.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Large Scale Enameling

Another student from the Glasgow School of Art came to see if I could help with the enamelling of large copper pipe for her MFA show.  Mimi shows the wide appeal of the GSA as she is French Canadian - although I thought her a French national for several weeks.

This required a lot of experimentation. The electric kilns oxidised very badly if placed in a cold kiln and taken up to temperature.  The glass kiln worked much better with this kind of heating.  However, it is known that copper enamelling is done by placing the copper in the annealing oven when it is hot for a few minutes.

Among the first experiments were getting the enamel powder around the whole of the pipe.  Normally, enamelling is done on a flat surface, and the powder needs to only sit on top of the copper.  With a three dimensional surface, a flux needed to be applied, which would be viscous enough to stay on the pipe without dripping and also hold the powdered enamels.

So be began experimenting with temperatures required.  It became apparent that there was so much heat lost in opening a large kiln that we needed to heat the kiln 50 to 100 degrees above the 800 target temperature. This depended on the size of the kiln, but not in the way expected.  The smaller kiln lost more heat and required more time to recover than the large kiln.  So the large kiln needed only about 50C over the target temperature, and it recovered to 800C within 5 minutes which was enough to heat the pipe and fuse the enamel to it.

This heating process was very dramatic as you can see from the photos of the process:

Getting ready to open the kiln

Placing the pipe in the kiln
Even though I was standing 4 metres away, I could feel the heat almost instantly.  But denim jackets put on backwards, gloves, heat reflecting sleeves and face guards were sufficient for the brief exposure to the intense heat.  

Then once the kiln climbed back to temperature, they had to reach in and take the cured pipe out without letting it touch the floor of the kiln, or burning the surface on which the pipes were cooled.

One of the larger diameter (50mm) pipes after initial enamelling of the base colour.

The enamelled pipes were of course only part of Mimi's  MFA exhibition.   All the MFA students exhibit in an old glue factory!  The most interesting part of the building for me was the tanks which were still in the building.   Other wise it was a series of rooms and large (probably) drying areas.

One of the pieces at the entrance to a room

Another free standing piece 

One of the longer, but smaller diameter pieces fixed to the wall

The whole MFA show was varied - from a number of video pieces and installations, installation pieces some of which had a craft appearance, photography, but surprisingly (to me, but not others who follow the conceptual art movement) very little painting.

It is good to report that Mimi received her degree and is now off to mount an exhibition in Germany, before getting ready for others in the UK.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Knitted Metals and Glass

It is much easier to find things using the internet than it used to be, but I am still surprised at what students can find and work with.  Kathy came from the Glasgow School of Art to ask about experimenting with the addition of knitted materials to glass to form a combined unit.

So the task was to find a knitted material that would incorporate with the glass and that would withstand the heat required to form the glass around the knitted fabric.  The range of threads she was able to source amazed me.  She found kevlar (of course), combined silk and steel, twisted steel threads, monofilament steel threads, copper, and she experimented with knitting a number of other threads.  Of course I was amazed simply at the possibility of knitting metals.

The initial part of the experimentation was to test how the fabrics survived the firings.  The fired results had to be strong enough to support the weight of the glass and be able to be put on the knitting machine to continue knitting the glass into the whole fabric.  Kathy tested kevlar, copper, and various forms of steel in both electric and gas kilns.

 The test with copper within the whole glass, left a large unsightly bubble in the centre and the network of the knitted fabric would be too distracting in the finished piece anyway (The dark marks as the left come from another process).

The test with ordinary steel and kevlar produced unsatisfactory results, as the kevlar (bottom) completely fired away.  The steel was blackened and pretty unsightly (the finer knitting at the top is a carrier fabric to enable re-attahing the fabric to the knitting machine.

Some metals appeared to work better than others.  The twisted steel thread at the top seems to be good, but the small gap shows that it is relatively fragile.  The middle piece shows that a method had to be determined to hold the fabric straight and even in the kiln.  The bottom piece (copper) appeared to be satisfactory until touched, when it just crumbled as you can see where a finger touched the fabric.

A combination of silk and steel (top) seemed to have reasonable results, even though the threads were very fine.  However, testing with the knitting showed it did not have enough strength to be knitted onto.  The coper at the bottom did not bubble this time, as care was taken, but as you can see at the left, it simply broke up at the touch.

The other variation that was chosen was to use the gas kiln.  It fires faster, reducing the oxidisation time for the metal and it also has a slightly reduction atmosphere as opposed to the oxidising atmosphere of electric kilns.  This proved to be the best kiln to work with, although it limited the size of the pieces considerably.

Kathy's next set of experiments was to try to obtain the colours wanted for the replication of the microscopic images of various minerals, which has been her starting point.  Here the contrast between the colours available in threads and that available in glass became apparent. 

  Tests of various combinations of colours were not as subtle as can be obtained from dyeing of threads.

So to increase the colour range and subtlety, powders were applied and manipulated.  Above are some of the tests.

Of course testing these with the incorporation of the fabrics was necessary.  The beginning of tests of combining glass pieces to be able to shape them before knitting them into the whole fabric can be seen in the lower left.

Of course, my involvement was only a small part of the whole of Kathy's degree show.  This was held in the Skypark campus of the School of Art, with each person given a standard space.  From this you can see the wide range of fabrics she developed from her investigation of the microscopic level of a few minerals.  On the left panel you can see the incorporation of screen printed versions of the mineral slices that were her source material.  The colours continue into her other fabrics on the right panel.

As there was so much to do and the technicalities of getting the shapes to work with the fabric were time consuming, Kathy had to concentrate on getting the fabrics correct.  Some of the glass she developed is shown on the light box at the bottom.  She also has several boxes of material showing the development of the fabric-connected glass.

I am happy to report that Kathy received a first class honours degree with distinction.  She also won the Incorporation of Bonnet Makers Prize (one of the Glasgow guilds descended from medieval times and still active).