Louis Thompson Masterclass

This was an awesome course, one of the most exciting by far that we have run at The Glass Hub. Fuelled by Louis’ endless enthusiasm, smiles, jokes and ambitious energy, students went from day 1 to day 3 on a steep gradient. The most obvious and rewarding result of this course was to see how the students’ confidence and ability to progress evolved each day.

Day 1 began with everyone giving a brief introduction to their work, what/who inspires them, and where they are looking to venture. Louis had been sent images and ideas before hand. Some loved colour, some wanted to avoid colour, some were highly proficient blowers, some with less technical abilities, but common to all were passion and creativity…..soon everyone was at the start line, ready to take off, especially after having witnessed Louis’ presentation of work.

So each student began by moving into the space next door, the big barn and were handed wallpaper and charcoal/markers……the object was to fill the wall paper roll (5 m) by the end of 3 days. (Karen’s seemed to fill in a lot after several ciders at the evening get together on Saturday!). Form was important, and the brief was to think of some inclusions to fill the space with……solid and blown. On the first day, the end result was to make some hot inclusions to decorate for next day, and also a solid bottle (aka Louis style) with elements and inclusions within.

Suddenly, the two barns became alive as students moved from paper to bench, and a series of inclusions began to emerge, based on what each person had used as their starting point. Top loaders began to fill, and by lunch everyone had filled their space. These top loaders were put on to cool, and now each person had to make more elements to use inside the bottle. One of Louis Thompson’s most successful works are his series of bottles with inclusions….these bottles are ironically “solid”, and encapsulate a few different techniques and inclusions. Confident in his own work, and generous enough to just hand over this idea, students fixed less on the design of the exterior and focused more on the interior. Some blew and cast squares, some used copper and colour, enamels, millefiori, and all other sorts of inclusions were made and held, or heated, including a glass figure. Then both benches started on the bottles, and a total of six beautiful Louis Thompson style bottles were produced, giving each of the students a taste of solid work.

Day 2 started with a demo from Louis, assisted by James Devereux. Very open in discussing his design and concepts, Louis explains what’s he’s been recently interested in, and how he wants to try some new things. He set about blowing up a form, then attaching a tungsten bit to the end of a drill, heating the tip and drilling holes through the form…..then filling the form with handfuls of canes, the interior space begins to fill and twist and become beautifully fragile like a network of alien life forms…..delicate, daring, innovative and pushing techniques and results, this demo inspired the students to get on with it, and push their ideas further than they had ever tried before.

With elements that had been sliced, ground, sandblasted, painted, twisted from copper wire and picked up from stacks of textures and inclusions, students made a total of two pieces each on this day. Everyone stuck to a theme, learning the thrills and excitement of using glass as hot glue, the torch to melt corners and stick, and assembling sculptural forms using unique processes….what a great day! We finished late, lit the fire next door, and proceeded to relax with beers, good food, music, fire and candlelight.

Day 3
The next morning, we assembled at The Hub, taking with us all the colours and items we would need for the day and drove our long convoy across Trowbridge town to Devereux and Huskie Glassworks. At James and Katie’s studio the plan was to allow each student to make a large and final piece of work, with Louis and James as the gaffers. We all worked as a large team, the size and scale and quality of glass took the pieces into a new dimension
– after prototyping at The Hub – students were ready to see the pieces looking like works for a gallery….and what results!

It has been so rewarding, so exciting, and Louis openly admitted to have left feeling “inspired” by the work the students have produced….truly a two-way process. Taken from ideas, pushed into drawings, translated back into glass and sketched in 3d form in the hotshop….seeing the ideas evolve and being born was an absolute delight.

Many thanks to James for gaffering and giving up a precious three days…appreciated as always. An incredibly exciting and unique experience, we thank Louis Thompson, whose infinite energy, enthusiasm, encouragement and capacity to share has been absorbed and appreciated by all who were fortunate enough to join us on this special weekend.

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