Karl Harron and The Perfect Vessel – by Sue Tinkler

“THE PERFECT VESSEL” with Karl Harron 2017 at The Glass Hub

I first met Karl at the Glass Hub in 2016 when I was a student on his 5 day course and then again for the 7 day course at North Lands this year, so I was thrilled when Helga told me that my application to be his TA for this course had been accepted. There is something magical about the Glass Hub, it is one of the few places where kilnforming and the mysterious world of glass blowing happen side by side.
Karl’s course offered so much more than just learning about his technical method. He gave professional guidance, and on a practical level he covered health and safety, mould preparation, compatibility, viscosity, heat-work manipulation, cold working and advised on maintaining kilns and other studio equipment.
At the start of the course, each student gave a 15 minute presentation about their own work and what inspires them. Students then presented their own design concept which they developed throughout the week by making a series of glass samples using a limited colour palette.
Over the 7 days the students made ‘The Perfect Vessel’ – first by decorating two blank circles of reactive Bullseye glass. These were full fused to form a blank which was then slumped into three moulds in consecutive firings – sounds simple enough except for two of those slumps the students had to wear protective clothing to manipulate the mould in the hot kiln to ensure the glass slumped correctly. Often this would need to be done several times to achieve perfection. Great team work developed during this process as it required other students to open the kiln, keep time and record temperature. At the end of the week Karl spent time mentoring each student to discuss their aspirations and next steps with glass.

There is no doubt Karl’s courses are challenging, both physically and mentally, his generosity in sharing information is second to none. He is happy to answer almost any technical question (although I can still see his raised eyebrow at some of them!)
This was my first time as TA on a course, it was hard work but very enjoyable; anticipating each next step, and making sure the materials and equipment were ready helping students where I could.
Like many of the students on the course, glass was not my first career. I have found building skills and knowledge by attending master classes alongside running my own business is right for me. Karl’s courses have helped me to take a bolder step in developing my own way in glass, encouraging me to strive for perfection.

Sue Tinkler

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