I returned from a week walking the levadas in Madeira with some strong impressions I wanted to capture: towering sea cliffs, lush tropical plants and flowers: palms of every kind, bananas, banks of agapanthus lilies, datura, lilies growing in the crooks of tree branches, and above all, the extraordinary Bird of Paradise flower. I returned with photos and sketches and started making thumbnail designs.
With Artweeks coming up, I thought I'd make some work for the garden - how about tropical flowers to hang in English trees? I set about cutting pieces of Spectrum glass to fuse together in the kiln, always creating a space for attaching a hanging loop.
Once they were safely in the kiln, I had a lovely time playing with the waste pieces. Before I knew it, a Bird of Paradise was being formed, which I could sandwich in-between two layers of transparent fusing glass to create a circular panel.
With Birds of Paradise on my mind, and circles, I turned to the circular cast iron frame I bought in Bristol, with the intention of making a large panel for a garden. There were times when I thought only a fool makes a circular panel - it is much, much harder to cut and in particular to lead, as the normal method of bracing it against the corner made by two straight battens doesn't apply. After some head-scratching, my lovely husband made me a semi-circular jig. Mark 2 worked well.
It was very satisfying when I had finally wiggled the last piece into place and could close the circle. I can't wait to see it in the cast iron frame ready for the garden. I will be showing it in Artweeks, alongside other possible designs, to be made to order.
I decided to set aside a week for some linocut printing, which I still enjoy, even though I only got involved with it while my studio was being built and I couldn't work in glass. I began by trying to make a design based on the fantastic vertiginous view from the rocky sea cliffs of Cabo Girao, looking down past the aloe vera and the prickly pears, right down to the terraced fields and the Atlantic below.
I then returned to the Bird of Paradise flowers for a two colour print. I discovered a wonderful orangy yellow called Indian yellow, which I realise is what Indians call saffron yellow. There is a slide show of my printing below. The two colour print is a 'reduction' print, which means you gradually destroy your block as you go - hence they are limited editions!
Now, all I need to do is some mounting and framing and I'll have some new prints to show for Artweeks.
I am a glass artist based in Charlbury, Oxfordshire. I work in stained and fused glass. I work to commission and teach stained glass in my studio. I open my studio to visitors during Oxfordshire Artweeks.
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