Scott Benefield Cane Masterclass

Scott Benefield and Andrea Spencer arrived from Belfast on a Sunday night and were whisked through the high hedges and darkness to Stowford farm where they would spend the next week teaching at The Glass Hub.

Day 1.
The following morning Scott introduced our group of six keen students to the types of glass cane they were going to be pulling over the week. The first day – simple “veiled” cane. Colours were chosen, cut and heated up in the top loaders, ready to be picked up. The ladders were laid out, doors closed for draughts and Scott demonstrated a few hot and perfect pulls. Then it was our students’ turn. The speed, accuracy and single-handed style of Scott is both unique and authentically a Murano style. This was certainly challenging for the group, but the day ended with bundles of coloured canes ready for day two.

View Day 1 Photos on Flickr

Day 2
So how do you go about rolling up, round, lively and separate canes into a uniform sheet that curls obediently into the required cylinder? Scott showed us exactly how by lining up the canes on the kiln shelf, he takes a measurement with the pie dividers and while this is being heated, gathers and forms a collar to suit. The glass on the kiln shelf is heated, turned, squeezed with paddles and on reaching the perfect temperate (good to roll but not to stick) the canes are rolled and brushed clean before being blown into a beautiful black and white cane cup.
The rest of the day was spent learning not just the art of blowing out the cup, but also how to work as a team, communicating well and getting the necessary precision of timings.

View Day 2 Photos on Flickr

Day 3
Scott lines up seven white canes on the ribbed pastorelli and picks them up on one side of a large gather. He proceeds to heat and pull out the loveliest length of flat cane Piatina or “pin stripe” as he called it. Next pick-up is an evenly spaced roll of canes that is twisted to form the “Rete” cane and finally before the students got started, Scott demonstrates the gorgeous Ballotini cane, where the twist appeared looped like stitches inside.

Now students practiced some of these cane-pulling techniques to build up a library of canes. Only a short break for Scott, until the smell of roast lamb and curry permeates the hot shop as we prepare food for the evening’s demonstration. All of us enjoyed the most incredible demo’ by Scott that evening, assisted by Andrea, Katie Huskie and Emma Baker. James Devereux was on door duty only, as Scott produced a stunning incalmo platter with lip wrap and pinstripes.
We were joined by students from a range of backgrounds including skilled production blowers from Bristol Blue together with our own foundation students and more! After Scott, Dave from Bristol Blue got onto the bench and made a sword, then a wine glass, finishing off the evening of glass, food and wine with laughter and glass drama.


View Day 3 Photos on Flickr

Day 4
Scott starts the day with a demo’ of delicate cane pulling in blues, making a curvaceous hour glass shape. He was assisted by Ben, a recent graduate from Plymouth, who kindly stepped into Andrea’s place as she started her own “Form to Fuse” masterclass next door. A black, clear and pinstripe (Striche and Piatina) vase was created to inspire the group in the potentials of the technique. Students then pulled and blew as they entered the last furlong of the course, galloping towards the speed, fluidity and finesse shown by the master – Scott. The energy was intense, concentrated and focused with students finding their feet on the cane ladders, that were, literally, strewn across the floor for the pull.

View Day 4 Photos on Flickr

Day 5
Our final day and final demo as Scott shows us his system of making cane in a production style. A long tube of cane is cut into several sections and held in the kiln until required. Scott then blew up a beautiful vase to finish off his time in the bench as students got their final piece and pulls done. It was awe-inspiring how far the students had progressed and how much they absorbed of these incredible techniques originating in Venice centuries ago, crossed to America, discovered by Scott and now brought here from the shores of Northern Ireland. A brilliant week and a good end to our Northern Irish Masters’ classes. No doubt these skills will be spreading through Scotland and England in the years to come, keeping these ancient and important techniques really alive.

View Day 5 Photos on Flickr

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Winter in Glass

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Coming up… Scott Benefield Masterclass

We are really looking forward to sharing another five days with glass artist Scott Benefield as he guides us through the wonderful world of cane. Scott will be sharing his expertise at the Glass Hub over the five-day masterclass, ‘Introduction to Venetian Cane Techniques’ (16 – 20 October 2017). We have two places left so why not come and learn all about this exciting process from a real master.

Click here for more information and booking!

Scott is a multi-award winning artist, educator and writer and past president of the Glass Art Society (US). He has been a Fellow at the Creative Glass Center of America and an artist-in-residence at the National College of Art & Design (Ireland), North Lands Creative Glass (UK), Vrij Glas (Netherlands), Pittsburgh Glass Center, the Corning Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Museum of Glass (US). His writing about studio glass has been published in numerous publications, including Glass Quarterly and the Glass Art Society Journal.

He is a master of Italian cane techniques and has taught cane workshops at the Penland School of Crafts, the Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the National College of Art and Design (Ireland), the Glass Furnace (Turkey) and as a visiting scholar at Osaka University of the Arts in 2009.

Scott Benefield Chairs the Jury at the British Glass Biennale

We are thrilled that Scott Benefield, who will be teaching with us this Autumn, has chaired the jury at this year’s prestigious British Glass Biennale. The jury have selected the pieces that will comprise the Biennale, an exhibition central to the International Festival of Glass, held every other year at the Ruskin Mill in Stourbridge. The 2017 exhibition, curated by Matt Durran, features work by 63 contemporary artists and will open to the public on August 25th. http://www.biennale.org.uk/.

Scott is a multi-award winning artist, educator and writer and past president of the Glass Art Society (US). He has been a Fellow at the Creative Glass Center of America and an artist-in-residence at the National College of Art & Design (Ireland), North Lands Creative Glass (UK), Vrij Glas (Netherlands), Pittsburgh Glass Center, the Corning Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Museum of Glass (US). His writing about studio glass has been published in numerous publications, including Glass Quarterly and the Glass Art Society Journal.

He is a master of Italian cane techniques and has taught cane workshops at the Penland School of Crafts, the Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the National College of Art and Design (Ireland), the Glass Furnace (Turkey) and as a visiting scholar at Osaka University of the Arts in 2009.

Scott will be sharing his expertise at the Glass Hub over the five-day masterclass, ‘Introduction to Venetian Cane Techniques’ (16 – 20 October 2017). If you would like to join us for this course please click here or contact us for more information.

The Freedom of the ‘One Off’ Masterclass with Joseph Harrington

The Glass Hub welcomed Joseph Harrington once again for a rather special masterclass – ‘The Freedom of the One-Off’. Joe has had a busy time recently – being represented by Bullseye Projects at Collect in February, chosen as Maker of the Week by the Crafts Council shortly afterwards, and then having a piece acquired by the V&A Museum for their Glass Gallery. So we were extremely excited to have Joe here to show students the techniques and methodology involved in his beautiful geologically inspired kiln cast pieces…..

The Freedom of the ‘One Off’ Masterclass with Joseph Harrington

The Glass Hub welcomed Joseph Harrington once again for a rather special masterclass – ‘The Freedom of the One-Off’. Joe has had a busy time recently – being represented by Bullseye Projects at Collect in February, chosen as Maker of the Week by the Crafts Council shortly afterwards, and then having a piece acquired by the V&A Museum for their Glass Gallery. So we were extremely excited to have Joe here to show students the techniques and methodology involved in his beautiful geologically inspired kiln cast pieces. As Joe says, ‘the main principle within my work is to create a sense of progression and evolution within a solid permanent form’. Students were challenged on the first morning to create ten quick and spontaneous creative forms in clay, without too much thought of the process involved. The aim was to ‘free up’ the mind and creativity, without being hindered by thoughts of how the pieces would be cast or moulds made! Following this we were encouraged to explore materials such as clay, sand, and found objects to make an open cast piece. Joe showed us how to explore the properties and physicality of these materials, such as heating clay and manipulating until it cracks, or pouring wax onto clay, combining and experimenting with possibilities. These were cast up into moulds, and loaded with glass for the day’s first firing!

The next day we were treated to a presentation of images of Joe’s work and the progression he has made over the last 20 years working in glass. Joe began with a degree in Ceramics and Glass, making ceramic pieces, but soon realised that glass was the medium he was drawn towards. It was interesting to see Joe’s progression though his glass pieces, as the scale increased as well as the distinctiveness of his ‘geological’ style which evolved as he came to use ice as a material. The ice is eroded and sculpted with salt then cast into glass, capturing a moment in time as the ice is melting. This thawing of ice provides a physical time frame to work within, heightening the importance of artistic judgment and decision-making. The day’s task for students was to work on an ice piece. Blocks of ice were chosen from the freezer and then students set about carving, eroding and melting to achieve a piece which would be cast into glass. There were some challenges in controlling the form and maintaining the integrity of the mould whilst the ice is melting, but everyone achieved the task and began to think about what colours etc they would use for casting. Ice as a modelling material certainly opened up many opportunities for working in new and exciting ways. A delicious meal in the evening contributed to a general feeling of well-being!

The third day began with another approach to mould making, exploring a ‘mosaic’ of modelling materials to achieve new juxtapositions of form. Joe showed student how to cut up cast pieces of plaster, clay and ice to reassemble with sand, creating the positive form which was then covered in refractory mould mix to create a casting mould. He then led a discussion of cold-working techniques, such an important part of Joe’s practice, but something difficult to achieve with limited equipment. Joe kindly offered many tips and tricks for working on pieces with a limited budget for equipment, and everyone felt that there were new possibilities for achieving some finishing at home in the future. We then had the opportunity to get the first pieces out of the kiln, which seemed to have been made eons ago! There was excitement as pieces were assessed and discussions had as to how pieces could be changed or improved in the future. Before long students were rushing to finish off the day’s mould making before finally departing, fired up with enthusiasm for the new directions and inspirations which they had discovered. Once again Joe proved to be a considerate, knowledgeable and motivating tutor, generous in the information he gave to everyone, and expert in his awareness and understanding of glass as a material. We’re looking forward to the next time already!

Helga Watkins-Baker

Masterclass – Breaking the Mould with Karl Harron

karl-harron-glassmaker

It is easy to fall into a groove when following our own creative paths with glass. Occasionally it feels good to be introduced to new techniques and practices that can open-up alternative creative pathways. Karl Harron’s masterclass encouraged us all to re-think and re-address the properties of glass and how we think it all works.

The workshop began with a discussion of the properties of glass: c.o.e; viscosity and flow; surface value; reactivity, followed by a flurry of questions from students as we were all introduced to new concepts and ideas about forming glass.

We all chose a theme to work on throughout the week, and the diversity of human creativity was illustrated as we talked though our chosen subject.

Students spent the first day preparing glass samples for the kiln, working with two colours to explore reactivity and viscosity. Vessel pieces were also prepared for their first shallow (and easiest!) slump in the kiln. Minds were buzzing as we finished the day with more questions than answers.

Day two began with the preparation of the vessels and moulds for slumping and an explanation of the principles of manipulating glass in the kiln for a deeper slump. What transpired to be the longest day of the week (we didn’t finish until 9pm!) ended with everyone successfully controlling the slumping process to get even vessel forms with some considerable depth. Our lovely samples came out of the kiln and everyone began to get excited about how effective the combination of using simply two glass colours with a lead/sulphur reaction, was. At the end of a long, hot day we all retired with thoughts of the third deeper slump to come.

Day three saw the already beautiful glass pieces returned to the kiln for their final journey in heat transformation, all of us feeling like we had a handle on opening-up kilns repeatedly for hours on end. Great teamwork and hard work enabled all participants to see their vessels through to the end, as the glass stretched its way down to near the bottom of the third mould.

More concept tiles and thoughts of creative themes were laid up by students in the following days to reflect new discoveries and thoughts. The deep-slumped forms were given some cold-finishing treatments to reveal their full beauty. We were all excited about the possibilities that this complex and technical approach to kiln-working glass can bring, and students left with much food for thought. A big thank you to Karl for bringing his expertise and inspirational glass making to us here at the Glass Hub; to Amy Casto for all her great assistance; to Karen Warner for general amazingness, and to all the students for their wonderful ideas contributions …and resilience!

Helga Watkins-Baker

Karl Harron slumped glass vesselAbout Karl Harron

Working in a centuries-old continuum of metallurgy and craftsmanship inherited from his Irish past, glass artist Karl Harron combines lead and sulphur-bearing glasses with fine silver to create elegant kiln-formed vessels whose etched and light resonating surfaces have an elemental essence. In sculpting his glass Karl Harron moves from traditional vessels to exciting expressions of “form and material” conveying ideas and visual poetry, while still retaining vestiges of their original function. These vessels are both functional and enveloping. They embody the preservation of materials and the containment of things precious to us, symbolising fragments of history, reflecting the every day, and conversely the revered. They narrate a story, from where they came, and their reason for being.


KARL HARRON MASTERCLASS – 2017

We are planning a second instalment of Karl during the Autumn of 2017 if you are interested in participating then please register you interest by adding your name and email to our list. We do not share information with any third parties.

Register your interest.


Some photos from the course:

 

Lisa Pettibone is Shaping up this November

Lisa Pettibone - Green Fold

We will soon be welcoming the talented master glass artist Lisa Pettibone back to The Glass Hub. Lisa returns this November to share her extensive knowledge of sculptural glass slumping.

After years of slumping glass, both kiln cast and fused pieces, she has discovered new ways to express form and volume that has occupied her artistic and technical thoughts for ten years or more. This involves careful temperature control and planning, allowing glass to fall into, onto and through objects in the kiln as well as making props and moulds. Letting shapes fall naturally with props can achieve a range of shapes, but we may extend this and actually go inside the kiln to manipulate hot glass too.

Lisa is unique in her approach to glass. Gravity, energy and tension are at the core of her work, and the results are beautiful, stretching glass, techniques and the imagination. We have a couple of places left on this brilliant 3-day workshop if you want to join Lisa and take your glassmaking to the next level.

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