Scott Chaseling Masterclass

Scott arrived from Berlin, via London, with Sally Dunnet and Catherine Shilling on the Sunday afternoon. Scott arrived relatively light, not even a glass tool, a sign of someone who is confident enough to just pick up and go in a new hot shop. Monday morning was meet and greet, a slide presentation of the history of Scott’s background in glass, mainly focusing on the pick up process, his career, influences and the different artists he has worked with, alongside some interesting conversations about the lack of fused to blown work on this side of the pond.

Scott originally set the hot shop in the jam factory, Australia, alongside Klaus Moje. Klaus came from Germany to Pilchuck, via Dale Chihuly, then found his way to Bullseye Glass, then just beginning in Portland.  In 1979, Klaus was teaching a workshop at the now-famous Pilchuck Glass School, just outside of Seattle. Among his students was Boyce Lundstrom, one of the founding partners of Bullseye Glass Company—which at the time was primarily making glasses for the stained glass industry. Lundstrom invited Moje to Portland to see the Bullseye factory and to meet his partner, Dan Schwoerer. He very much developed the range of colours and glass used for fusing at Bullseye.

Moje had been making works using kiln-formed glass methods since the mid 1970s, using German glasses that had originally been developed for the button industry. They were never intended to be reheated and melted together. As a result, they had many different problems, ranging from surface defects to incompatibility. In the case of incompatibility, the glasses could be melted together, but they would break apart upon returning to room temperature because they did not “fit.” This was the fate of many of the early works that Moje attempted.

The Bullseye team had already done some work toward developing compatible glass, but they fully committed to the project only after meeting Moje and seeing his promising work. They developed Bullseye Tested Compatible glass, the world’s first glasses specially formulated for working in a kiln.

Scott Chaseling was the first to blow work for Klaus, mastering the leap from warm into hot. Years on, Scott has developed this “pick up” process and has since adapted and personalised it in many styles, and is best known for his painted pick up vessels, which have a hidden imagery inside, and depict a pictorial diary of his peripatetic lifestyle. This series of personal narratives were made using paradise paints with an intaglio process, layering and cold working back, then picking them up and blowing and stretching them into a unique style.

Back to the class….

Day 1 – Catherine had made a fantastic three-layer fused panel, dichroic stringers galore, which Scott used as a demo piece on Monday afternoon. This pre-fused demo piece was picked up at 580C, placed onto the pastorelli fork and heated in the Minimelt, turning gradually and checking it was not sticking to the shelf. Scott gathered and made a collar, using pie as his method of calculating the correct diameter to roll up the sheet into a cylinder around the moil (glass at end of pipe). Scott then proceeded to roll, marver, seal end and blow up the form. Catherine decided on a large short cylinder form, and we were amazed by the size this flat sheet could be blown into!

Students were then whisked next door to the kiln room, glass cutters in hand, and set to work on designing and cutting their geometric pattern from thin strips of Bullseye glass, set into a pattern, “on edge”. These were fused overnight.

Day 2 – Scott actually broke his sleep to check the kiln overnight,and the next morning we cracked the kiln to get the temperature down. We began the day with a murrine stack, four of Sally’s ready pulled murrine in a bundle.  A beautiful pull. Next was a stringer stack, wired together with hundreds of Catherine’s stringers, and pulled out into a cross section of pin points. Scott had washed the tiles under hot water, before heating and they were then set up on bricks in the kilns organised in such a way that the pastorelli would fit snugly under each to pick up.  Scott’s tile was first, which he used to blow murrine rings, a detail in his work that’s very individual. After that, teams were formed, with Clare Wilson, our TA, lifting and heating the tiles, everyone else either working as part of a team or working on their murrine stacks.

One by one, the students picked up, blew and put away a beautiful piece of glass.  Those who had glass experience did the whole lot themselves, those with more fusing experience had Scott help them out…..and we finished the day on a real high! But before everyone went home, we had to get all the murrine stacks in the kiln to fuse ready for murrine pick up and pull next day. Scott has a great way of teaching, he is highly organised but also fantastic at making everyone feel very relaxed. All pre-class anxiety and excitement now settled, a simple, challenging and focused work ethic took over at the Glass Hub.

Day 3 began with a look at the beautifully coloured and diverse patterns and forms blown from the panels yesterday and also a few metres of murrine that had been annealed, ready for chopping. Scott began with his demo, which showed that the trick is to get all stacks fused down to the base, without the top melting over like hot choc icing on a cake. The demo came out beautifully, and one by one students repeated picking up, heating, squashing and pulling square lengths of murrine. Balancing on marvers to allow the glass to be pulled down, and using the torch to heat rather than the air to cool, we finished in style, and with all stacks pulled, we watched a slide presentation of murrine and then finally finished off the “scrap Murrine” stacks to fuse inside their dams overnight. We headed off for a lovely evening of food, drink and laughter at the Cottage chez Louis Thompson and Katie Huskie.

Day 4 began by studying and chopping short lengths of murrine that had been pulled and cooled from the previous day.  We viewed a diverse range of colour choices and style in the cross-sections of glass, as everyone assembled a series of strip and murrine designs to make a final panel to fuse. The whole technique of blowing a flat piece of glass into a round object, is amazing, and true to form Scott then showed us how to pull ballotini (a helix twist) cane…..from flat pieces of glass!  A simple murrine stack was picked up, then instead of keeping the edges square and pulling murrine, the four corners were smoothed out and it was suddenly a cylinder, then heated through evenly and pulled and twisted out into a beautiful ballotini cane.  Scott pulled and turned one way, Clare Wilson, our much appreciated TA turned the other. Everyone then took turns in pulling their own scrap murrine, and a deadline of early afternoon was set to finish off panels before Scott gifted us to two wonderful demos.

The first was a process similar to techniques used way before the birth of Christ! – an amazing demo of an ancient style bowl with ballotini rim. With this the squares of murrine are laid out onto a shelf, into a circular shape.  This is preheated, then gradually heated in the furnace, and squashed around the edges until it becomes one hot flat pancake. Then the length of ballotini cane is wound around the rim. The whole piece is then heated one final time, taken off the plate and put straight onto an upside down form such as a flowerpot, so that it folds into a bowl form.  Scott then picked this up on a punty and proceeded to form it further on the bench, as if having just blown it!

And the last demo and piece of the day was a murrine square, pulled from cream and ruby, made by Clare in between TA-ing. Scott preheated the square then put it on a pastorelli and heated, squashed, turned and rolled it up into a cylinder.  This is then marvered, sealed and blown up finally into a sphere, a shape Clare loves, as she made these on Scott be fields last year, and a Nancy Cullen course at Pilchuck. The students were now on a deadline…..panel fusing in the kiln, they would have two pieces to finish on day 5.

Day 5 – The last day – This began with each person picking up and blowing their square murrine tiles. These were put on to heat, and when one was picked up, the next murrines were put onto the hot kiln shelf and popped back into kiln to heat again. One by one we raced through them, and by lunch were up to speed! As a group in the same barn, we enjoyed a lovely collective feeling, as techniques, understanding and mixing ancient processes with contemporary art styles united us. Finally, all the panels were picked up, and all achieved a pick up, blown to their own design, and popped into the lehr.

What an amazing week, the course way exceeded our expectations, and was an experience we will never forget, beautifully executed by Scott Chaseling. He truly is a fun, professional, highly talented and inspiring person.  Thank you Scott!


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