This year I started to study glass. Especially glass blowing on the burner, which is also called lampworking, laboratory or scientific glass blowing.
Last summer I spent some hours practicing thanks to Iris Roskam who set up her burner for me. Because I still have little experience, I will have to invest a lot of time. This motivated me to submit the “Research Scientific Glassblowing” plan to the Creative Industries Fund NL, in addition to my application to the Mondriaan Fund. I am so happy to let you know that I’ve been granted this funding. With this Start-up grant, I can follow workshops, purchase materials, and set up my own glass workplace in my studio.
There is a lot to be learned. As Bernard Bolas describes in A Handbook of Laboratory Glass-Blowing “Until the student can turn a tube steadily without thinking about it, real progress in glassblowing is impossible”.
[motive] In my first month of my Work Contribution from the Mondriaan Fund, I wrote a piece (read it here) in which I discussed the interaction between me and my work. How I have come to see this more and more as a performance, in which the machine is the performer and I the assistant.
I want to push the performance even more by replacing parts with an even more fragile material: glass. Glass inspires me through its qualities and shortcomings. The hollow shape of glass offers the possibility of temporarily trapping liquids. The fragility of glass and the possibility of it breaking because of friction and movement is interesting and something that I want to embrace.
[books] To learn the basics of glass blowing on the burner I mapped out a learning path based on A Handbook of Laboratory Glass-Blowing by Bernard D. Bolas, Contemporary Lampworking: A Practical Guide to Shaping Glass in the Flame vol. I, II and II by Bandhu Dunham and the online classes from The Scientific Glassblowing Learning Center by Joe Wales.
[workshops] There is so much knowledge that online (alone) cannot be learned. That is why I would like to follow workshops with master glass blowers to get a better grip on technology. In the current time with Covid-19 that is very difficult, distance can hardly be guaranteed. Because I was afraid not to get the chance to follow the workshops I wanted, I already followed a workshop at the end of September. The workshop was given at the location of Stipglas by Jörg Hanowski. I was very nervous. But it was a very educational experience.
During the workshop I worked on Nortel Minor Burner, a surface mix burner. A surface mix burner keeps the fuel gas separate from the oxygen (or air) until both gases have left the torch. The advantage of this is that the flame is very quiet, the shape and nature of the flame can also be adjusted more. My first steps have been taken on a propane burner (see video). I have often been told that working with Borosilicate glass on a propane burner is not possible. Still, I thought it was going well, but I soon noticed during the workshop that what I thought “worked out nicely” goes so much better on a surface mix burner.
[workplace] Due to the new covid-19 measures, I have decided to set up my workplace earlier than planned. I was able to learn a lot during my workshop about safety and the necessary tools. Next month I will be busy collecting the necessary materials.
I will conclude my research with a series of experimental glass objects in which I strive for movement and the trapping of liquids. This series of artifacts should provide an overview of the added value of blowing glass for my work, and the possibility to take further steps. This series will also give direction to my plan for a kinetic printing installation consisting of glass parts.
Thank you for reading.
To be continued.