We were excited about Luke coming this time, as the former sessions were such fun, and we were expecting more unusual requests from Luke. We had prepared materials to take trials onto the next level.
Today Luke brought a trumpet with him (wait and see) and as we approached the farm, he lowered the window and blew that trumpet, startling cows in the field as we passed by. In the barn, the fire warmed the studio and we lit the furnace to warm our glass for the day ahead. We sat by the fire and reviewed our results from the last session. Affording this time is valuable, and allows Luke to analyse and reflect on progress and plan his next creative endeavour. We also ran through the course description for our upcoming masterclass in June, where Luke will engage students alongside experienced glass artists, Louis Thompson and Max Jacquard. The course aims to give students a taste of what Luke has experienced during his residency here with us, focusing on ideas about ‘making’ and ‘concept’ and how these two creative processes can inform each other in practice. We talked through all the previous ideas, and focused on the ones he wanted to pursue. Click here for more info about our ‘Communicating with Glass’ course.
How to squash a trumpet!
The clock that we had encased in glass was a success, so next we looked at Luke’s trumpet, and thought about how we might encase this. Luke had a rather nice trumpet, that worked (after a fashion) and I had brought one in that I had found in a junk yard. Maybe we should flatten it, but how? …we looked at the glass mangle; thought about dropping a big stone on it; even running it over with the car, then… “Let’s run it over with John’s fork lift!” John Lapham is a stone mason next door to the Hub, so, off we went, into the stone yard, with Luke tooting his trumpet, bringing nearby studio artists and crafts people out of hiding like the Pied Piper. John very happily got up into his forklift and ran over my junk yard trumpet, sandwiched between two sheets of metal, just for the fun of it, and saving Luke a lot of time and effort squashing by hand! As we all watched, the machine drove onto and off the trumpet with its solid tyres, compressing it as much as the three note cylinders would allow.
Luke folded, and we squashed again, this time with parts falling off and other bits folding, until it was a totally compressed trumpet sandwich. With the excitement over in the yard, we took the now much quieter and smaller trumpet back inside, polished it up along with a harmonica that Luke had played for years, (in fact since he was 16 and making money from busking). These were all set to be encased, “mummified” in the same way as the clock. We planned to sandwich the trumpet between layers of glass and then cast onto the table this time, it being too great an assembly of parts to try and push into a hollow vessel and seal, as we had done with the clock and badger skull.
The cast leg…
Helga arrives, we drink tea, eat cake and discuss plans for our “mock leg” slumping.
Helga takes sheets of 4mm clear glass and cuts them down, balancing them on the material draped over the plaster and mod rock leg we had made last time. The kiln was taken slowly up to slumping temperature with a 30 min soak, then annealed and taken down slowly.
All wrapped up
James Devereux arrives to eat lunch and blow glass, he hadn’t quite signed up for the next activity, which found him inadvertently becoming Luke’s model for the “figure in a blanket” experiment. Soon he was changed into old clothes and wrapped from head to toe in cling film. Once fully covered (we did give him an air hole) he lay down on a wooden board, and we covered him with strips of mod rock (a type of plaster bandage) dipped in water, working as fast as we could and building up several layers. The job of lying still and quiet on a hard board for thirty minutes or so is no easy task, and Helga and I both felt blessed that we had managed to avoid the task. Soon, James was released from the cast that appeared weirdly alive, solid and eerie when it was empty, lying in the dark barn next door, like a mummy.
Blow your own…
After a well-earned lunch we prepared to encase the harmonica and trumpet. Luke also wanted to blow through the trumpet into hot glass to make a bubble! Unfortunately, whilst making the trumpet as safe as we could by removing all steel and carbon, we also removed the sound. Luke and James worked hard to retrieve a note, but there was little pressure left in it, certainly not enough to blow a bubble. The harmonica was preheated. James blew a bubble, elongated it and opened up the end and the harmonica was popped in. Wood started to burn immediately as the bubble was sealed, and we attached a vacuum to suck out the smoke. We were reminded of the smell of burning badger skull as the vacuum noisily released its contents from the motor. Before long the form was encapsulated inside the glass. James gathered over this and a small solid cylinder formed.
What to do with a squashed trumpet…
Already squashed as much as possible, the trumpet was preheated. we gathered a ladle full of hot sticky glass and poured this onto the marver. With gloves, Luke carefully placed the twists and folds of hot brass trumpet onto the flowing glass, and another ladle full of hot glass was poured on top. With metal paddles in both hands, we attempted to sandwich straight the edges, which proved difficult as the edges cool at different rates to the centre. Another few scoops of 1100˚C glass is poured onto the brass form, which has now super-heated and is glowing. We realise this may have needed a hotter base, and also a former around the edges, but we will try to re-cook and re-anneal this if it cracks.Both items were placed in the lehr to cool down
An end of what Luke described as “a brilliant day!”
Thanks to James and everyone who helped.
Here are some more photos of our day: