Category Archives: Activities

Guest Post: Rebecca Milling, RSA artist-in-residence

Guest blog post from Rebecca Milling:

I have been lucky enough to receive funding from the Royal Scottish Academy Residency Scheme, to spend time at North Lands Creative Glass. I am learning the art of scientific glass blowing so that I can make glass sculptures which have required skill to produce before I take photographs which capture the instant of their destruction. My latest series of work has involved building glass structures from off cuts of picture frame glass, in an attempt to build as high as possible without any particular thought or skill attributed to the construction.

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Week 1 – July 2013
I’ve never travelled as far north as Lybster before so the six and a half hour drive up from Edinburgh was filled with excitement and anticipation of what I was going to discover during my first week learning the art of scientific glass blowing. Arriving to find huge and fully equipped workshops with Michael Bullen, an enthusiastic and dedicated technician, I was not disappointed at the mind blowing potential of what could be achieved!

Trying to focus on my original plan, I was very happy to meet my tutor, Ian Pearson, an expert in his field and immediately keen to point out to me that he can make anything out of glass – just say it and he will make it! Ian loves to show off his prowess working in the flame as I looked on wondering what I had let myself in for.

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However, Ian gave me little time to back out and I was turning, spinning and blowing in no time

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Ian was not keen on the large metal hammer in my photographs and so made me a glass one in about 10 minutes proving his point that he really can make anything!

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I was left to my own devices on days 2 and 3 faced with this workbench, many glass spindles and Ian’s instructions hastily scrawled on a notebook the day before.

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I set to work and as you can see came up with these uneven/organic glass forms_MG_4996

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I became fond of them and gradually, especially after another day’s teaching, they became smoother and I started to feel a bit more in control of the limitations of my newfound medium. It also became evident that the scope to play with reflection and distortion in the glass shapes was going to be a key element for future photographs. I returned home with a car full of distorted and wonky glass tubes – some better than others!

During my first week, I also took the opportunity to drive the 30 miles north to John O’Groats one evening and then to the most northerly point in mainland Britain – Dunnet Head. Castletown Harbour was well worth a visit too.

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Week 2 October 2013
Having spent time in the studio back home where I’d been able to experiment with what I had made during my first week, I returned to North Lands with a mission to make as many organic shapes as possible with smooth unridged bubbles to get best effects for reflection and distortion. I had ordered various tube widths and varying wall thicknesses of tubing to try and get different sizes when blowing.

I had asked Ian to leave spindles out for me so that I could get to work immediately. I was also keen to try working with soda tubing as well as pyrex. Soda tubing breaks much more easily than pyrex tubing so I wanted to put this to the test considering that my ultimate intention was to smash my sculpture, it seemed logical to work with the material which would smash most easily and hopefully dramatically.

Ian was a little taken aback at the prospect of working with soda but game as ever and delighting in the inevitable regular explosions which came from working with a more unstable material. I enjoyed working with the soda and liked the extra malleable qualities of it and how it retained its heat for longer.

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It must be noted that when faced with a large metal hammer being thrown at the blown thin walled organic shapes – both pyrex and soda smashed just as well and it was impossible to tell the difference!

I spent 4 days blowing glass and had eventually taken over the workshop with my efforts.

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Ian made me an awful lot of spindles to blow and I also gave him the challenge to blow large and even elongated bubbles so that I could experiment with regular reflection.

A team of happy helpers turned up at the weekend and we set to work first of all in the sheltered courtyard taking photographs against black velvet and also in the garden of the house shooting with the dusk sky as a backdrop.

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Please see www.rebeccamilling.com Reflective Construction to see more of the final images from that week.

I have again come home with a car full of glass and am planning my next adventure to North Lands in 2014.

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Artists in Residence

You can follow the adventures of our A Forest of Glass artists in residence on the Creative Futures website

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(l-r Wil Sideman, Laura Reid, Madeline Mackay, Heather Gillespie)

A Forest of Glass is part of Creative Futures, a Creative Scotland talent development programme which aims to promote the professional development, capabilities, connectivity and ambitions of Scotland’s creative practitioners and organisations.

www.creativescotland.com
www.creativefutureshq.com

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A Forest of Glass

Our residency, A Forest of Glass, began on 21 October. The four artists Heather Gillespie, Madeline Mackay, Laura Reid from the UK and Wil Sideman from the US arrived safely in Lybster and spent the week preparing their materials and themselves for their eight week adventure.

The project is a partnership between North Lands Creative Glass and the Borgie Forest Cabin Project, with the support of the Forestry Commission Scotland. A Forest of Glass is part of Creative Futures, a Creative Scotland talent development programme which aims to promote the professional development, capabilities, connectivity and ambitions of Scotland’s creative practitioners and organisations.  www.creativescotland.com  www.creativefutureshq.com

They’ll be staying and working here – North Lands Creative Glass Studio

North Lands Creative Glass Studio

and here! This is Borgie Forest Cabin.

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Borgie Forest is one of the most northerly forests in the UK. The artists will be working in the landscape (in somewhat cooler weather than the pictures suggest) using engraving tools and techniques and creating their own Highland adventure.

Here’s Wil Sideman in the Studio this week.

Wil Sideman in the Studio

We asked them for their first impressions…

Heather Gillespie:
I have been in Lybster for a few days now and so far it has been a wonderful experience meeting the local people and staff at North Lands. So far meeting engraver Denis Mann has been my highlight, such a sweet man with many years of experience underneath his belt which he is willing to pass on to me and the other residents, it is a true honour for him to be with us.

As from tomorrow I will find myself living and working in a forest, a daunting prospect of having no access to internet, phone, tv or radio, just glass machinery to keep me entertained. It’s exciting but at the same time terrifying!

I have heard the forest and surrounding areas and beaches house spectacular views, which I am looking forward seeing and gathering inspiration for my new works. It’s going to be interesting 8 weeks, one which I think could change my way of thinking and making work.

Laura Reid:
Being up in Lybster again has been amazing so far, it’s one of my favourite places. It’s been good getting to know the other residents and seeing some familiar faces, and I’m looking forward to heading out to the Borgie forest and getting stuck into some engraving on location. I’m excited about what’s coming next!’

Madeline Mackay:
After a busy first week getting to grips with a new medium, I’m looking forward to heading off for Borgie to do some serious drawing and put what I’ve learned into practice. Bring on the wilderness…

Wil Sideman:
This residency represents several unknowns to me both as an artist and as an individual. I have travelled to a new country, I am exploring a new technique and with the introduction of the Borgie Forest, I will be living and working in a very different environment. I have been excited to participate in this residency because I knew it would break me out of my comfort zone and challenge me to expand as an artist.

I could not have been happier to step off the bus at the end of my long journey and be greeted by a fantastic community, welcoming staff and three other excited and hardworking residents. I am unaware of what will come but I am trying to embrace everything that comes my way.

And they headed off today to Borgie Forest.

Borgie Forest

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Glass Skills Class: Sculptural Flameworking

We were delighted to welcome Carrie Fertig to North Lands to lead a Glass Skills Class in Sculptural Flameworking.

Also known as lampworking , flameworking is the manipulation of glass rods and tubes. The heat from the flame of a gas torch enables one to add and subtract solid glass, and blow hollow glass, all with minute detail.   Hand torch use was also taught to enable the building of large-scale sculpture.

The class ran over five days with intensive tuition focusing on techniques but in the context of more conceptual approaches.
” whilst this was…a techniques class, the skills learned have broadened the aesthetic vocabulary of the students.” Carrie Fertig

Participants had this to say about the class:
“worth every penny. Great to learn so much in such a short space of time. Great teacher…”

“Carrie has a really positive attitude…it’s really encouraging”

“I have gained confidence in my ability to work independently”
You can see more images from the class in our Flickr set

We asked Carrie what appeals to her about North Lands…

“From my experience as artist in residence in 2007, to teaching, to making my largest pieces up here, each trip to North Lands has a profoundly positive effect on my work. I know that I am hardly alone in this observation, so why is this? The people at North Lands, from the amazingly helpful staff, to the artists who come here to teach, be students, or assist, to the local inhabitants, form a community that seems to urge one on in new paths of creativity. The history and stunning but bleak beauty of the area inspire aesthetically and in some deeper internal place to foment work that bursts forth in the now, but also develops over years. Mix this with an innervating studio and you get  a heady environment of possibility and creative juicyness, unlike any other. I come for the current project to hand. But I always leave with something far greater than its completion.”

More about Carrie:

Carrie’s work explores connection and disconnection within sculpture, installation and performance. In 2010 she founded a flameworking performance group called Torcher Chamber Arkestra. Comprised of an international team of flameworkers from neon, bead, and sculptural backgrounds,  they use glass, fire, dance, music, and pyrotechnics to bring flameworking to a wider audience in innovative, exciting performances involving the audience in new methods of engagement. The next performance is August 25th at the International Festival of Glass at the Ruskin Glass Centre in Stourbridge, England. Carrie is Chair of the Scottish Glass Society. www.carriefertig.com

Look out for other Glass Skills Classes on our website
www.northlandsglass.com

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Master Class and Conference Brochure

You can now see full details of our 2012 Master Class and Conference programme in our brochure

Master Class and Conference Booking Form

Master Classes for 2012 will be running between 29 August to 19 September.

We offer a total of four Master Classes, with two running concurrently before the Conference and two after. The first two Master Classes will run from 29 August to 6 September with Angela Jarman and Jacqui Poncelet. The second two Classes will run from 11 to 19 September with Paul Marioni and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend.

Our International Conference ‘Give-and-Take’ will take place on Saturday 8, Sunday 9 September 2012. The conference will explore conceptual and stylistic exchanges over time, between different cultures and media.

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New Year, New Skills…

There’s still time to book your place on our new Glass Skills Classes for 2012, a great opportunity to develop existing skills and learn new techniques.

Sculptural Flameworking Techiques with Carrie Fertig,
20-24 February

The Floating Glass World,
Engraving Techniques with Dominic Fondé
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5-9 March

Glass Painting Techniques with Michael Bullen,
14-18 June

You can book your place through our website

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Festive Glass Activities at North Lands

Join us for our drop-in Christmas Family Day on Sunday 11 December, 12.00 – 16.00. Design and make your own glass Christmas decoration. All materials are provided and activities are suitable for all ages. Cost £5 per decoration

Make festive gifts and get an introduction to glass making in our Christmas Evening Classes. Pendant Making on 14 December and Christmas Decorations on 15 December, 6.30-9.30pm. You will develop glass cutting skills, learn fusing techniques and, in the Christmas Decorations class, also experiment with frits and powders. Both classes are suitable for beginners and include all materials. They cost £30 per class, or book both for £50.

Check our website for more information and Evening Class booking details http://www.northlandsglass.com/category/events

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