vandy: (prunted glass)
[personal profile] vandy
Somehow I got on a new glass kick. I started out making palm cups (aka globular beakers) for Inga last summer. After having made a bunch, I finally got around to doing some of my own research, and wow does that vessel form (and I use the distinction loosly) come in all sorts of varieties. At Twelfth Night Driffa (sp?) and I talked a little more about trade stuff, and apparently her guy doesn't favor raised decoration, so I've been doing some research into other appropriate decorative techniques for that style vessel. While trails and interestingly manipulated raised bits are the most common form of decoration on globular beakers, there are also some examples with raking. Raking is neat, and I've been meaning to practice it for years but have never really gotten around to it Oh look, an excuse to practice! So for the last couple glass blowing sessions I've been producing some fun raked and feathered vessels, trying to figure out exactly how they did what. There are a couple different raking techniques that appear to be used in various areas. There is a very agressive technique where a lot of glass is moved, and there is a more precise technique which appears to move less glass. Oh, and for clarification, raking is usually a pattern where the glass is patterned in just one direction leaving a wave-like look with rounded top or bottom, and feathering usually applies to moving the glass in both directions so the pattern is more like a series of v's or zigzags.

The cup on the left is my second attempt at raking/feathering in three years or so. I an impulse I did things a bit differently. Instead of hauling a whole bunch of glass down the side of the glass and then back up with the tweezers and thus hideously mutilating my bubble of glass, I used a bladed wax working tool to slice in one direction repeatedly, and then back in the other direction. Because my bubble was larger when I did this, it worked pretty well and retained the pattern nicely. It is a pretty swell cup. Things I decided to work on included making smaller threads around the bubble to feather, and working on the pacing of the pattern.

The second cup from the left was my first cup on my second day of glass blowing trail and error for this project. I was trying to get finer trails and more evenly spaced pattern. I did all right, but it still needs work. I also did some green trails and a lip wrap at the top. Here is the example of really nice even feathering on one of the extant vessels:

Blue-green beaker with trails found at Dollerupgaard, probably 8th century. From: Glass in Britain and Ireland AD350 - 1100, Brittish Museum Occasional Paper Number 127, by Jennifer Price.

This was by far the nicest exampe of feathering I saw, and it was also on a very small beaker ( about 3 inches). There was also a vessel with very crude feathering of the "haul a lot of glass around" type where all of the feathering had migrated to the top of the vessel when it was blown out. My guess is that the raking was done when the vessel was smaller and then blown out quite a bit.

The third beaker from the left was a fun experiment that changed track half way through. Aside from all decoration experimentation, the overall shape looks verra nice, so I am happy with it. As far as the decoration goes, I started out trying to mimic the technique used in the image below, and switched to doing something else once I realized that would work and had a new idea half way through.

Globular beaker, Bonn, about 2 1/2 inches tall. 8th century???Also from Glass in Britain and Ireland.

My hypothesis was that the dashed were formed by first blowing the glass into a ribbed mold, then wrapping it with fine trails of glass before blowing it out. When it was blown out, the trails that weren't in direct contact with the glass would sperate, leaving dashes. I'm not sure if they meant to make the dashes, or if it was a decoration achieved accidentally, but was interested in how they arrived at it. There are certainly also examples of beakers blown into molds with applied threads that don't seperate, either because of a less aggressive mold, thicker threads, or perhaps having the threads pressed down into the glass before the bubble is blown out.

As you can see, I started achieving the dashes when blowing out my bubble almost right away on the bottom. Trying to blown out the wrapped mold-blown bubble was interesting, and somewhat difficult. The un-wrapped top of the bubble wanted to blow out first, rather than the restricted part below. The ribbing creates an intrinsically stronger form, and being wrapped with the stiffer yellow glass acted almost like a girdle, holding in the bottom section of the bubble while I was blowing. However, trying to get it hot enough to blow out and watching the strength of that section gave me an idea. What about using the ribs from the mold for guide-lines for feathering the glass? If I used them as guide lines I might be able to make more evenly spaced lines. Since I already knew the dashes were working, I switched gears and decided to try some raking in the bold blown grooves. I only managed a little, because the top of the bubble had already blown out enough to make the whole thing sort of floppy and a pain to deal with. While the actual raked pattern isn't great, I do think using the mold as a guide helped with spacing and is something I should explore further.

After doing my trails with finer raking and feathering, I decided to go back and try some of the chunkier raking. My inspiration was this very nice yet simple 8th - 9th century glass from Syria or Egypt:

about 3 x 3 inches. From: Glass from Islamic Lands, the Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait National Museum.

This glass is one of the best examples of this type of raking that I've seen and I totally want a set of these. Might be my next project! There was quit a bit of glass that was blue with white trails and red-purple with white trails, produced at one or more glass workshops in Egypt or Syria. I'm bummed that I didn't get to finish the purple raked cup I was working on - the raking was looking really nice on it. But bot hthe propane tanks for our glory hole froze up and the burner started burning back, so I just had to box the piece without finishing it. Gee I wish we had a huge propane tank. Or natural gas. Sigh. Oh well, I figure that I will just put it in the kiln and bring it up to temperature when I finally get around to doing some enameling experiments. Then I should be able to pick it up on a pontile and finish the lip. In the mean time, the pattern and color look pretty good!

Back to the globular beakers, the color choices are kind of fun, aren't they? At first I assumed all the colors were blues and greens with white trails because of having seen the blue and white syrian/egyptian stuff in color photographs. But I realized I was making a rash assumption, so went back and did some more reading. Base color included light green, dark green, green/blue & blue/green, a red marbled color, brown, light blue, black, and maybe more. Trail colors included all the base colors and a range of contrasting colors such as white, yellow, red, and reticella of various colors. Glass was most likely a soda lime glass, and the wall thickness ranged widely from paper thin to 5mm. Lips were sometimes folded back to thicken them, but not always. Lips on the globular beakers mention in Price's book were always fire-polished.

Oh, and the cute little bottle on the end was my warm-up piece. I used the glass shards left over from trying to break up bards of glass with a hammer (yes, I need a better tool!) as decoration on the sides of the bottle.

And here is a little taste of some of my other glass projects lurking on the horizon inspired by various images:

A lamp/conical beaker holder based on one excavated at Jalame (pic from excavations at jalame site of a glass factory in late roman palestine). I want to get a couple of these done before Estrella. Don't know if that's happening though.

Individual hanging lamps. Here is one of several depictions. This one is from a 12th century manuscript in the Bodleian Library. If you have pics of hanging lamps, please direct me to your sources or send me copies, pretty please with cherries and whipped cream on top! I've been collecting info on lamps for a while starting back with polycandelons, and I need to write stuff up as well as make more of them...

A 16th century German claw beaker. The majority of the claw beakers I've seen are anglo-saxon period (6 - 10th centuries AD) with a few as early as 4th century, and those are finer Roman ones that often represent specific sea-life. In the Renaissance they went back to looking at the Roman stuff and re-invented the claw beaker yet again. Still funky, in yet another way. I want to do a stylistic comparision between the various periods along with comparisons to other contemporary forms.

And look! My merchanting inspiration! A mid-16th century depiction from the collection of the National Library in Paris.

Date: 2009-01-23 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
OH OH OH!!!!!

I COVET the middle one...

THAT is an AWESOME shape made of AWESOME!!!!

Date: 2009-01-23 10:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I will be making more! And I'll probably be bringing basket o'glass to an event near you at some point in th upcoming months.

Date: 2009-01-23 10:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fan.freaken.tabulous :)

I want one the shape of the middle one, that is EXCELLENT. It could even be shorter/squater, but that ratio of neck to body makes me happy. I don't need the feathering, but I LOVE the fine trailed lines on the neck. LOVE. I make you hat??? I'm currently making hats :)
I'd even embroider it....some ;)

Date: 2009-01-23 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I do like hats... can I see picturz pls? Or I can see one on someone at some event I am sure.

Date: 2009-01-24 01:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There are two possibilities :)
1 is a pointy hat, the little norsky bonnets. Linen ones are GREAT in the sun :)
2 is a paneled hat with fur around the bottom. I'm currently making a new one of these for me, so I have the pattern out.

OOH, and I posted all the glass vesels I can find in the Historik Museet on my lj :) at least, in the near-viking-age section...

Date: 2009-01-23 08:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Since I've never done racking on a large piece I don't know translatable my experience is with raking in lampwork.

With lampwork beads-making, I do a LOT of raking in my designs. On the bead, the most effective way to control raking is when the surface of the bead is warmer than the core but not soupy hot. I find that my most controlled raked designs is when I pick up a teensy smidge of glass from one end of the piece and I carry that up to the other end without allowing the glass to "dam" behind the raking tool. Does that make sense?

Here is an example of a racked bead using the minimalist technique:

Date: 2009-01-23 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
PS. I *heart* your glasses and love love love the raked designs.

Date: 2009-01-23 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks. :-) Woops, totally logged into other account. In which I should have posted this anyway. Hmmmm. I may just have to do away with two accounts since it doesn't seem to work for me.

Date: 2009-01-23 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The bummer with larger blown glass is that in order to get the glass hot enough to rake, you have to get the whole bubble really frikkin' hot. There is no just getting the outer surface hot, because it is hollow, so it is *all* outer surface. And you also have to worry about how the design will blow out. It is a lot easier to do raking on smaller, thicker bubbles. The problems is that the design will grow a lot when the bubble is blown out. Which works fine for the more wave-like patterns like that on the syrian/egyptian cup. Where you can see that they did actually get a glass "dam" behind the raking tool causing a more rounded top rather than a smooth line through the top of the deign. However, for the finer pattern, the bubble has to be more blown out and closer to the final shape in order to not loose detail, making it hard to drag even a small amount of glass without seriously compromising the uniformity of thickness of the wall or really mis-shaping the bubble. Wow... am getting pretty in depth here, but it is also helping me clarify my thoughts. :-)

I think the idea of sort of slicing with a bladed object to gently move the glass (sort of like doing the decorating on a cake) is the right way to go with this because the glass is tough enough that t doesn't actually cut, it just sort of dents the surface and pushes the glass up or down in the correct direction. using a pointed object is too likely to poke a hole into the bubble (not all the way through, that is harder than it seems, just make a dent into the bubble and fold it over or drag it into a weird shape). Ah well, with more practice will come a better understanding of what works best. I want to try some core vessels - I am sure what you are describing would work well on them, and they would be a lot of fun. I'll add that to the list of projects! :-)

Date: 2009-01-23 08:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I totally get what you are saying.

Interestingly, the technique you are talking about to "slice" the design is used by some japanese artists in their racked designs. The idea with using that type of technique in the small glass beads is that rather than dragging the glass a long ways, you are just sort of shifting the entire trailed design a little bit to the left or right.

You should come over and look at some of the japanese bead-making books. You would get a kick out of them I'm pretty sure.

Date: 2009-01-23 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would love to come look at books. If not before then, maybe I'll have time after Estrella...

Date: 2009-01-23 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Which reminds me (hijack hijack hijack), I need to bone up on my lampworking Technique; I know too many things in a half-assed way.

Recommend a good book?

Date: 2009-01-28 09:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The only flamework books I have are Contemporary Lampworking, and the Penland School of Crafts Book of Glass. They are both good, it totally different ways. Khalja probably is the one to direct you to good books here...

Date: 2009-01-23 08:25 pm (UTC)
chemicallace: My personal avatar, a lady with a flask. (Default)
From: [personal profile] chemicallace
Awesome. I'm starting an incalmo class, so that's my current obsession.

Date: 2009-01-23 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oooh, sounds like fun. I have only made one incalmo myself, but have assisted in doing a whole bunch of them for some weird platters Kyle was doing. They are fun!

Date: 2009-01-23 08:41 pm (UTC)
chemicallace: My personal avatar, a lady with a flask. (Default)
From: [personal profile] chemicallace
Do you have any pictures of late period incalmo? It supposedly started around 1600, but I haven't found any examples yet.

Date: 2009-01-23 09:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I haven't seen any that I can reacall off hand - you might querry the folks at the corning about it - their research library is apparently really good, even with finding stuff for people over the phone. You might send them an email or call them...

Date: 2009-01-23 09:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, I will try to remember to look out for it when I am looking through books in search of late period Finnish stuff though. I need to do some research on late period glass trade and what went where too. I know there was a lot of trade from Venice to various places, and of course cullet got shipped to Venice, but I want to see what I can find on other areas ordering, shipping, and trading glass and finished vessels. Nothing like really old paperwork and receipts! ;-)

Date: 2009-01-23 10:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I *so* wish I lived closer to you. I can't get studio time up here at all right now and would happily sit in the corner and watch you!! or beg for time.

Date: 2009-01-23 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
On the plus side, there are at lest 5 or 6 people in An Tir currently working on blown glass. That is just way cool. I didn't know *anyone* else who was aside from my dad when we started. :-) If you were down here you would be welcome to come over - I've had a couple of non-glassblower friends trying to assist me, which makes things challenging, if still fun.

Date: 2009-01-23 10:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, I dunno if you plan on coming down for July Coronation or September Crown, but if you do, think about staying an extra day and coming over to play in the shop. And on a side note, I never did get you CD's of pics... 'cause I still need to make cd back-ups of my pictures on flickr. It's on my list, but way down there because I keep having stuff that needs to happen *now*. :-P

Date: 2009-01-23 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Can you pretty please bring me a glass cup with boobies to Estrella so I can buy it from you? Give me the high end p[rice and the low end price, I'll tell you what I can spend and you just do something super cool... how does that sound? I want it to be able to hold about 20 ounces if possible (or at least one whole bottle of beer, which is 12 ounces)

Date: 2009-01-23 11:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, you want a BIG boobie cup. That figures. ;-) I assume you mean with drunk bumps like in my user pic? Low end price around $45, high end around $80. Difference is the amount of time I spend on it and number of prunts and wraps and colors. I can do a big one, not sure exact ounces, but will hold at least a bottle of beer. Any color preferences? Blues and greens are common, both lighter and darker, from grayish to more vivid.

Date: 2009-01-23 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Can I get two decent ones for $100 total? I just want it period and cool, you are an artist and I trust your intuition (big grin) so do what pleases you!

Date: 2009-01-23 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yup, we can make that work. You want them mostly the same, or complementary in color and style but still unique and large enough to hold enough beer? Probably the latter would be more fun for me, but I can do either.

Date: 2009-01-23 11:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Whatever is more fun for you!

Date: 2009-01-24 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ok, yay fun! Best kind of customer - do what you like and I'll pay you for it. :-)

Date: 2009-01-24 12:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
LOL well... I sew (a lot) and I like to be able to sew what inspires ME. I find if you let an artist follow their inspiration you end up less with an "it" and more of a thing with soul.


Date: 2009-01-24 04:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Lamps

Date: 2009-01-24 05:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, awesome! No, I'd never seen this before. And for the most part she has different pics from mine - most excellent! :-)

Re: Lamps

Date: 2009-01-24 05:44 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rectangularcat
I'll keep your quest in mind and when I run across stuff I'll send them on to you.


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