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


Andrea Spencer Masterclass – Where Lampworking met Fusing.

Andrea Spencer Masterclass 19th – 20th October

Andrea Spencer is fast becoming one of the UK’s leading women glass artists. Her work is simply exquisite, and with a spirited and investigational teaching style, Andrea joined us to teach an explorative Masterclass for students eager to merge the techniques of lampworking with fusing. Her class was instantly booked, with a waiting list to boot.

Andrea has extensive experience in glass, working with a myriad of processes and techniques. After graduating from Edinburgh with a BA in Architectural glass, one can still see echoes of this background in the way she displays and frames her work. Her glass is inspired by natural forms and can be both incredibly delicate and capable of filling spaces with site-specific installations. Her work embodies both the experience of natural forms and personal narrative. Among many other things, she has been an artist-in-residence at North Lands Creative Glass (Scotland) and a visiting artist at Penland School of Crafts (USA) and Pilchuck Glass School (USA).  Andrea Spencer’s work is held in significant public and private collections and has been exhibited in galleries in the UK, USA and China. Notably, her work has been exhibited in three British Glass Biennale exhibitions (2008, 2010, 2012). Andreas public art commissions can also be seen in several healthcare buildings throughout Northern Ireland.

On Day one, Andrea’s students arrived: Some with a background in fusing who wanting to use lampworking to extend their manipulation of glass, and some with a lampworking background, wanting to extend skills with the kiln process. This experimental class fired up imaginations alongside the torches – fuelled by Andrea’s tremendous energy and enthusiasm. Running the torches hotter than is normal for standard torch work, the excess air and gas, soon turned everyone’s glass molten, and they were dropping, twisting and pulling multiple small objects that would later be placed onto a sheet of bullseye to create a composite work. Following a few demos, everyone was set to work on their individual components.

This was no bead class but one where students were encouraged to heat and drop, squash, sculpt, twist and squish the coloured rods to create small pieces which were then placed directly onto the kiln shelf ready for assembling later on. This somewhat unconventional way of working was refreshing, the items being small enough to sit together on the shelf, and all ready to use that same afternoon. For the impatient, this was a genius moment of discovery. Soon the batch of small objects were assembled onto sheets of bullseye glass. Some sat flat on the sheet as they had fallen hot onto the kiln shelf, so didn’t roll around, glue was used for the bits that did move. In this way students built up their composite works and the kiln was set for the first day’s firing.

Over the two days, Andrea would give a series of demos, and students would then interpret what they had learned into their own work. Andrea demonstrated skill in manipulating sheet glass pieces – bringing them together and sculpting them into a beautiful leaf and a delicate wishbone in an ivory colour. This was a unique way of working and a contemporary approach to an ancient technique. Students were so inspired by the making process they forged ahead, making multiple small objects right until the end of the second day. They left with, not only a large bag, full of components to fuse at home, but a great sack of knowledge and freedom.

Thank you Andrea!

Click the image below to view photos on Flickr
Andrea Spencer Masterclass

There will be another class with Andrea in the Autumn, 2018. please contact us if you are interested.