Sunday, 11 April 2021

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, MAKE LEMONADEl


I really like this expression, and it is so apt for me right now.

For so many years, I sketched and painted.  Even though I turned to other craft pursuits for a change of pace, I would still occasionally produce a painting...and there can be no doubt that I was probably a better painter than craftsperson.

However life, for me, took a strange turn not so long ago.  After heart surgery and a stroke, I find that I am now left with a body that is hard to recognise.  I can literally no longer draw a straight line - sketching is out of the question.  I have poor balance, and suffer with something called "stroke fatigue" which impedes my ability to do a lot on my feet.  Please dont think I am looking for sympathy....it is what it is, I have to get on with life and I try not to complain too much.  But there is no doubt that life suddenly handed me lemons, and I had to find a way to make lemonade.  I was not happy with the thought of sitting on my hands doing nothing except watch the tv!

Enamelling is a no-no, as one has to hold a red hot piece of metal balanced precariously on a trivet and move it around. I would drop it and set light to myself, without question!  Sketching upsets me, I find I can hardly hold a pen still to sign my name any more,let alone sketch.  Glass ...well, one needs to be able to cut glass safely to create glass art.....but......

I can cut against a straight edge AND I CAN WORK WITH GLASS POWDER AND FRIT.  Frit is crushed glass.  Frit, in a mould, or on a glass base, melts in the kiln.  And with it, I am creating all kinds of different things., including the gorgeous poppy bowl above. It is hard to believe that is made from crushed glass, isn't it.  So, I thought it might interest you to see a few pictures and learn a little about the process.

This is frit.  It comes in tons of sizes and colours, from fine powder, to chunky pieces:


When I want to make a flower shape like the red poppy above, or the blue poppy bowl below, I first have to fill a MOULD with a mixture of frit and powder.  

A ceramic mould looks like this...here is my poppy mould, a sieve, and a small pot of powder - this is Claret Red, believe it or not!  Well, it will be when fired in the kiln.
The mould must be filled quite carefully, using various different colours and sizes of glass frit and powder, and after 12-14 hours on a complex and specific temperature schedule in the kiln, I will have a flat disc with a poppy petal texture.   

This then has to go back into the kiln, in a"slumping" mould, for the glass to soften and form an organic shape. A totally different temperature setting is required. Below is an "organic" slumping mould that gave me the shape for the red poppy at the top of the page. ( after making the original flat disc, I may decide NOT to use this standard slumping mould, I may use my own props using special fibre blanket which I harden.)
Here are some other moulds, with their resulting forms:  The sunflower mould is filled with frit and powder, ready to be fired:
   

I make the process sound fairly easy and straightforward, but things can, and do, go wrong. Moulds are expensive, and can chip or break.  The glass can get stuck in the mould.  If I do not use the right amount of frit, I may end up with holes in the glass. If I mix up the colours and use a sulphur-based frit together with a copper-based frit, I could end up with strange unwanted colour reactions.  Waiting for the first kiln firing to end is fraught with worry!

I don't just make flowers. Using frit, and chopped pieces of glass and other "inclusions" I also make and sell these lovely paperweights too.  And I give a percentage of my sales to the British Heart Foundation.


My Dragonflies are also made with frit:



Thank heavens for glass!  I feel that at least I am doing something with my time which is more productive than watching the tv!    I am not happy about the uncomfortable physical challenges I am faced with, but am determined to do what I can, to the best of my ability, when I can.  I just have to keep thinking about those lemons......and enjoy the lemonade..........










  

 

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