Each piece of work is envisaged as a 'finished article' and the processes required to produce it are carefully mapped out by working back from the vision of the 'finished article.' Often previous firings are repeated and changed to suit a new idea. The temperature in the kiln can be varied to produce very different or more subtle changes in effect and these are carefully recorded and catalogued for future reference - these detailed notes extend as far back as 1976 and provide an invaluable database for work.
The pieces start out as flat sheet glass. This is painted or block printed using specially made rubber blocks; sponging and dragging techniques are also utilised. These techniques help to create the beautifully subtle colours and internal patterns of the finished product.
The bowls are produced using sheet glass which is cut into narrow strips and assembled, cold and flat in the kiln, to the desired shape - this can be a very complex multiple laminate with glass layered horizontally and vertically. For the coloured bowls high quality coloured glass is used.
The glass paper-weights (pebbles) are created in a process similar to that of the bowls, except the glass strips are much wider and are made in a large long block.
Once assembled the glass is heated in the kiln to a temperature between 800 and 950 degrees centigrade until the glass has 'moved' with the heat the required amount. In simple terms the hotter it gets the more the glass 'moves' and a simple mould is sometimes used to control the amount of movement - close control is determined by the temperature. This is then followed by a period of cooling.
The bowls are then usually ground on one or two sides and the edge ground and polished. Following this they are slumped into a mould in the kiln and the temperature finely tuned to give a 'fire' polish (the glass surface is slightly melted) before being slowly cooled. The bowl may then be polished on the rim or the back depending on the desired finish.
The paper-weights are also fired and cooled and then sawn with a diamond saw and rough chopped to shape with a special pitching chisel. This is followed by rough grinding and then fine grinding and then, in a process which takes a week, the paperweights are embedded in wax ready for polishing on one or more sides. Finally they are inspected and signed.
From initial inspiration through the complex process of creation to the finished article can take as long as two to three months. The investigation process has been ongoing over 25 years and continues. New work being developed includes three or more multi-faceted paperweights and the possibility of crystal cut paperweights.
Blanthorn glass is exhibited world-wide and can be found in public and private collections in the UK and overseas.
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