Deceptively Simple… beginning my Quest for period thinness

This is the most elegant piece of glass that I have made to date. You may simply see an unassuming, clear bottle. What this actually is, is a culmination of many skills and a big, personal achievement. It is nearly all shaped off the gather heat, with only two, quick, minor reheats for small tweaks, blown without the aid of a blow hose, and made outside on a blustery day. I am definitely pleased with this new direction. I’ve wanted to develop this skill for a while now so I’m pretty excited to have taken the first steps.

Just keep swimming…

As I prepare my new A&S display, this evening’s light reading consists of Vera I. Evison’s paper titled Glass Vessels in England AD 400-1100. I’m definitely enjoying the interesting tidbits of of information I’m learning about Anglo-Saxon glass during this period. A couple of my favorites include the folded rim of a beaker being used as beads for necklaces for small children, and finding sherds of glass in women’s bags or purses, possibly holding magical, amulet type qualities.

Pennsic 47

What. A. War. I’m not even sure where to start. Pennsic this year was an absolute whirlwind.

In the shop I was teaching classes about glass in period throughout history, with the help of Dianne Sollenberger Hollinger who made the most delicious period beverages and helped reset the food and drink area between sessions. The class would not have been the same, nor run so smoothly, without her help! I also helped to teach several private glassblowing classes, which was a great learning experience for me. Throughout the event I gave several narrated demonstrations as well, one of which was the demo of my A&S project piece. Add in trying to make stock and work retail and it was a busy schedule indeed!

I presented my latest glass project, not only the Arts and Sciences display on Sunday, but in the A&S War Point on Thursday, where I received a lot of useful feedback about my work and enjoyed educating others about my craft. When I walked into the room that morning I was very intimidated and felt vastly out of my league. Needless to say I was blown away when I heard my name called out during the results of the competition, winning my category (Arts and Studio Crafts 3D) and helping the team of the East and its Allies to win the A&S War Points, and ultimately, the war itself.

One of the biggest surprises came in court on Tuesday, where I became a Companion of the Order of the Maunche, being recognized for my developing skills in glassblowing. I was definitely teary eyed when I was gifted the first tool of my very own, which once belonged to Master Alexander. I was deeply honored on both counts. I received the most beautiful scroll, created by Mistress Sunniva – I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor. I couldn’t believe the attention to detail. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Finally, and most importantly, what is Pennsic without friends? It was really wonderful to catch up with those who are dear to my heart, but rarely able to be seen in person. I don’t get to hang out as much as I’d like, but that just makes every moment spent more special to me. I forged some great new friendships this year as well, many of whom are already inspiring me to learn more, try some new things, and up my game.

It was a jam packed two weeks and I want to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone who helped make this such a memorable event. I’ll look back on it fondly for many years to come. ❤

Just some pretty little somethings…

I had decided earlier in the year to up my garb game so today I thought I would take a break from the heat and make some jewelry. I had been eyeing this necklace from Christie’s for some time and a few weeks ago I hit a jackpot. A couple of my glassblowing friends, who specialize in Roman period reproduction work, had given some glass rods in their blue-green Roman glass formula to Tillerman Beads to play with. They made some lovely melon beads, as well as some barley twist optic beads and some simple annular ones. I knew they’d be perfect for recreating the basic feel of this necklace so seeing as they are a limited edition I quickly nabbed some up!

Christie's Roman blue-green glass bead necklace
Blue-Green glass bead necklace, circa 200 B.C. – 100 C.E., Christie’s
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Celera’s glass bead necklace, loosely based on Roman original

Materials: 20 gauge gold plated wire, 17 melon beads, 12 barley twist beads, 4 round beads, and 34 modern gold spacer beads (as seen in the Christie’s necklace).

In the simple style of Roman wire earrings, I used two of the barley twist beads, 4 natural pearls, and the 20 gauge gold plated wire to create a coordinating pair of earrings for my new necklace.

Met's Agate Earrings
Gold and Agate Earrings, Circa 100 B.C – 200 C.E., The Met Museum
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Celera’s glass bead and pearl earrings

I may end up shortening the back of the wire, or even turning it back up on itself, the way you see it done in many other examples of this style of earring. The back of the wire can vary in length and thickness but I will determine which way I like them after wearing them a time or two.

 

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Fayum Mummy Portrait, 2nd century, Museum of Archeology, Strasburg, France
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Celera’s Crotalia

My final pair for the day were a pair of crotalia. Like the Roman women of old, I enjoy the faint clacking sound they make. This type of earring came in a wide variety of styles. Pearls are frequently seen,  but glass beads and semi-precious stones were also used. The bars hanging down could be sets of two (as seen here), three, or four.

This was certainly a pleasant project and I’m looking forward to taking them out for a spin!

More Roman Tricks…

The past couple of weeks I have been playing with some new techniques, Roman of course. Seen on several kinds of Roman vessels is a type of foot which is created by sectioning off what will be the bottom portion of the vessel and collapsing the bubble that was made into a pedestal type foot. It can be a bit tricky to get the hang of keeping the foot on center, but with practice it comes eventually. I feel like I am finally on the right track to getting this technique down pat. These were a lot of fun to make and I’m looking forward to trying this with some larger and taller shapes.

5 folded foot vessels, purple glass
Roman Style Bottles with folded feet…
Gold Leaf Roman Vessels
Roman style folded foot vessels with 23 carat gold leaf, applied hot, while the vessel was being made…

My next treat was trying my hand at applying gold leaf to several vessels. Sheets of gold leaf were applied to the hot glass during the process of making each piece. On the two vessels with the lion head stamps, the gold leaf was applied to the extra glass bit, cast off from the piece, and then the shape was stamped into the hot glass and gold leaf mass. I’m looking forward to using this technique more in the future.

Here are a few examples of this style foot from antiquity: Cosmetic Flask, Amphoriskos, Jug

Diving in Beyond the Cloth…

I’m terrified of public speaking. It’s my kryptonite. I get so nervous! Sweaty palms, I freeze, my mind goes blank with all of those faces just staring blankly back at me… you name it and it happens to me. One of the ways I have been trying to help become more comfortable is with displaying A&S projects. While working at Glencairn Museum for the last couple of weeks, during our demonstrations for school groups, I have begun doing all of the narration. Now it’s time to really take the plunge. I’ve decided to teach. Not just one class. Oh no. That would be too easy! A two part class, twice, and a fully narrated demonstration of my German Beaker A&S project. All at Pennsic this year.

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The class will be separated into Early Period and Late Period and will discuss how glass was used in each period, who had it, what they used, and how it changed throughout the centuries. At the end there will be a “social” where everyone will be able to try different vessels styles to really get the feel of what it was like to use these items. A friend has offered to create some period beverages as well, which I think will be a wonderful addition.

As nervous as I am I know that with proper planning and research I’ll be just fine. I’ve found a wonderful PDF, created by Della Hutchison (Mistress Alicia Langland), that has already been immensely helpful and has given me a number of ideas on how to present the information to the class. It also helps that I will be discussing one of my favorite topics. I know it will be a lot of fun and will really help with my stage fright. I definitely believe that I will be learning as much as my students during this little venture.

The Keeper of the Central Flame Competition, April 2018

I have come to find that I really love teaching people about glassblowing. One of my favorite ways has come to be through my Arts and Sciences projects. Showing my work gives me the opportunity to get a little more in depth with my visitors about the history and techniques involved with furnace worked glass.

It seems to be a mystery to people at times, and rightly so. It can be a mystery to me as well! You begin with a molten, 2000 degree material  that just wants to drop right onto the floor and within a minute it’s stiff and unmoving. But, with patience and practice, you can learn  how this strange material works and manipulate it into to the most interesting and beautiful things.

My most recent project display, The Learning of a 16th Century Dutch German Beaker, was at the Keeper of the Central Flame Competition. It shows the entire learning process of the cup that I chose, with four new elements that I had never done before. My display shows my first failures (some of which are reduced to shards) to a completed vessel with four measurements all within 1-1.5 mm of the extant example.

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I was a bit nervous since I have only done one competition before this and I’m generally not very good with public speaking. I think the most daunting part of it though is the documentation process! There are so many differing opinions on how to present it, that it can be difficult to decide where to start. As confusing as it can be, I find myself really getting into the process. Since my first foray into the world of Sca documentation I feel that I have a come a long way, although the climb is no where near complete, let me assure you!

I had just a good a time as I could have hoped for! I saw some truly great works of skill and artistry, witnessed a couple of rather wonderful moments in court, and spent the whole day talking about one of my favorite topics and making new friends. I received some very useful feedback from my judges, and am looking forward to continuing with my project, making it as good as I know it can be. It is technically a competed project, but it is, after all, a “work in progress” as I can still improve in each of the techniques that I learned when creating other vessels. There are still some tweaks needed to really make my documentation shine as well, but I’m on my way! 

As a bonus for pushing myself a little more out of my comfort zone, and all of the sweat that has gone into my project thus far, I won 1st place in my category. You can’t ask for more than that cherry on top of a lovely day.