Monday, December 22, 2014

Glass Blowing!!!

On Saturday, I tried glass blowing for the first time ever.  It was a bit of a challenge, but I really enjoyed doing it.  The workshop was at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and I was working with instructor Anne.  She's been doing glass works for many years, and she is now in her third year as a resident artist at the Centre.  

The hot, fiery furnace looking thing above is actually called a Glory Hole.  Yes, really. 
The process begins with a scoop of molten glass (from the boxy looking furnace in the right hand side of the photo).  The glass is stuck on the end of the metal rod.  

The temperature of the Glory Hole is about 2250 degrees Fahrenheit.  Holy shit that's hot!  So, you stick the rod into the Glory Hole and keep rotating it to get some shape.

Then, you dip the mushy lump of molten glass into trays with bits of coloured glass.  You then stick it back in the heat so that the added colour melts in.  The process is repeated a couple of times (as more colours are added). 


Then, Anne used tongs to shape the top a bit and to smooth out any stray pieceds around the neck (of the metal rod).  

Then it was time to blow, blow, blow.  The harder you blow, the bigger (and thinner) the ornament becomes.  Throughout the process, the rod must continually spin, or the glass will droop and sag (and your sphere will become a deformed oblong or some other odd shape). 

Because the glass is so darn hot, it needs a day or so to cool down, so I picked it up today (Monday).  


My three ornaments!  The small, turquoise one was a deliberate SNAFU - I just wanted to see how it would look without being forced into shape.  Kinda cool...

Ed and Aurora - two other instructors/resident artists - stood at the ready to add the stem (so the ornament can be hung on a Xmas tree).  It's juts done with more molten glass and a pair of pliers to twist it into shape.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pate de Verre

After burying myself in school for the last several weeks, I finally got busy doing something new and different, and very cool: Pate de Verre.  I had no idea what this was all about when I stumbled upon the website for Nanopod Studio and saw their list of upcoming workshops.  

But since it wasn't terribly expensive and was just an afternoon, I figured: What the heck - might as well give it a try...  

The instructor was Tosca Teran y Hidalgo, and she was amazingly patient.  I think I asked her 627 questions (many of which were duplicates!)   

The inside of the mold is "painted" before you do anything else.  The paint is not what you'd expect.  It's very finely-powdered, coloured glass to which you add some kind of magic solution to bind it enough so that it will hold in place.  Once you have the outer (or bottom) layer painted, then you fill the mold with little bits of ground glass - the pieces are so small and so fine that they looks like grains of sugar.  

Next, the masterpiece is kilned for several hours.  The temperature of the kiln is fairly low (comparatively speaking), which is why the glass granules retails their shape, as opposed to melting together. 

Here's a short YouTube video that gives a brief explanation of what Pate de Verre is and how it's done.  

*  *  * 

So, I did the first part (above) on Dec. 13, and went back tonight to pick up my finished piece.  Very cool! 

I had to use a little chisel  and a pick (it looked like a medieval dental instrument!) to gently smash away the plaster cast.  I literally broke the mold.  Anyhow, the pics tell the story and you can see my colourful skull end result.  

Did I mention that this activity was very cool?!  I had a lot of fun doing this and look forward to doing it again some day.

The five photos above were taken by Tosca Teran - the artist-instructor who owns Nanopod Studio.  Tosca is awesome - and very patient!  Her studio is filled with all sorts of her creations: jewellery, metal works, glass works, a wild pair of shoes and a very funky pink felt headpiece/wig! I can't wait to return and discover some new creations.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm in good company!

It was a pleasant surprise to see Blood and Groom listed in this "tour" of Toronto mystery novels, especially since the book came out just over five years ago!   And I have to say, I'm in great company.  I've read just about all the other authors mentioned on this page (which is from the January 2015 issue of Toronto Life Magazine, on page 97).  Pretty cool that Blood and Groom is listed as one of the "ten grisliest" whodunits!  Since it was PI Sasha Jackson's first case, I'm sure she would agree.