Jan’s Passion

I have been very fortunate to have experienced highly skilled and generous teachers.  More than 25 years ago I undertook a class in lead-lighting with Robert at Spectrum Art Glass a business that has grown exponentially over-time.  From magnificent leadlight windows and features to fabulous textured slumped glass panels, walls and art installations…visit their site at http://www.spectrumartglass.com.au  I was joined by two friends and we made windows for our homes and those of friends.  This was also my first introduction tLampshade copper foil 1co fusing and slumping glass, but at this stage Rob was not set up for classes in this form of glass craft.  I also learned copper-foil technique with Rob and over the ensuing years created beautiful lampshades; Tiffany, Art Deco and contemporary styles, and Victorian and Art Deco jewellery boxes. I also made many sun catchers of Australian native flowers, animals and birds.  Faeries were very popular at this time too.  No I am not an artist so this endeavour was assisted by the beautiful designs of Australian glass artist Jillian Sawyer…http://www.amazon.com/Jillian-Sawyer/e/B0034N71AC  Box green 1e By this time I was enamoured by glass; the colours and textures…its vibrant and decorative charm.   I later ventured off to Finns Glass (unfortunately this wonderful business recently closed) and was introduced to another world of glass.  Vicki Hill, a very special instructor, lead me through many classes of fusing and slumping, raking, drop vases and more as the years passed.  Quite an expensive hobby but I was hooked to the various forms of glass art with the added value of utility.  Vases, bowls, platters…extra-large to small.  Using Bullseye TC glass, I discovered another universe of colour. asian_lge_sml I bought a small kiln ‘Hot Box’ and still love this little kiln today.  Larger pieces I paid to have fired at Finns, too expensive at this stage to buy a large kiln.  Some of the glass is a picture within itself and the emotive nature it invokes inspires creativity in its use.  They also held a fantastic stock of other glass such as Urobos, Kokomo,  Wissmach, and Youghiogheny… oh the colours and textures … the visual and tactile beauty.  Not suitable for kiln-forming but beautiful for leadlight / copper-foil / and another venture I love ‘mosaic’.  Started out as a way to use scrap but soon found myself buying specific beautiful glass for the mosaic items I was creating.  Mosaic_PlatterAnother wonderful and generous teacher, Australian mosaic artist, Christine Stewart, guided me skilfully into this wonderful art form.  See her  books; ‘Pictures in Glass’ and ‘Mosaics Unlimited’ and others.  I too combined fused glass technique and mosaic for fantastic 2D products. I then ventured into Glass Bead Making classes at Finns Glass held by their guest teacher Kathryn Wardell, at http://www.wardill.com/,  initially beginners, then intermediate and advanced.  Kathryn's BeadsI purchased a Hot Head torch and set myself up at home to make beads…and do they need practice, but how exciting and satisfying to succeed.   Again this is using Bullseye TC rods, ready-made stringers and learned to make my own various stringers and twisties.  I also took classes with Pauline Delaney, http://www.paulinedelaney.com/index.html, a guest teacher at http://www.beadglass.com.au a fantastic weekend workshop in an idyllic setting.  Pauline uses Moretti glass and twin gas torches; new for me.  I haven’t purchased the twin gas torch yet but find the softer Moretti Glass is perfect to use with my Hot Head; only limitation with Hot Head is making very large beads. Pauline Delaney Both workshops introduced me to reactive, striker glass and raku creating ethereal designs and combinations of colours and reactions. By this stage I was makingGlassPendant coll fused glass pendants and matching lamp-work beads.  My daughter says ‘Mum, you can’t just keep on making them, you need to make them up into jewellery, think about selling it’.  Me? Sell my jewellery? She had a point, I couldn’t just keep making with no plan.  My dearest friend Monika had during this time ventured into beading, so I consulted her and she showed me how to string the beads and attach clasps.  She took me to some bead shops and I purchased strong professional stringing material to take the glass beads and weight and found myself in awe of all the stunning crystals, pearls and beads that abounded. 018_13_Necklace_jade_cascade01eWe decided to create a business; Monika saw herself as Eddie and me as Patsy so our business name became Absolutely FabuGlass.  We didn’t have a business plan and had different ideas about our products, so we acted separately and sold a few items to our friends and family… Necklace_LWGlass beads_orange black longthe business was one in name only. You would think enough by now but no!  A very tragic event sent me on another path…    Four years ago Monika passed away, in my arms, on a 42C day in a shop in Cairo, Egypt.  My dearest friend of 40 years was gone, suddenly, devastatingly.  The horror of this experience will never leave me, I think of her and miss her every day.  So you can see where my new business name comes from ‘FabuGlass’ the remaining half.  In profound shock and feeling outside of myself I was supported by my other dear friend, Irene, who took me to the Craft and Quilt Show at Olympic Park, something to distract me, something I shared with Monika, perhaps a way to still connect, we walked through the many stands of beads, pendants, gemstones, a huge display of beautiful products.  Thank you Irene, I know this isn’t your thing and I very much appreciated your support. One stand stood out to me ‘Hot Dot Designs’ http://www.hotdotdesigns.com.au owned by effervescent and dynamic Carolyne Brennan and assisted by her husband Ronny.  014_18_Necklace_wirework_green_HotDotCarolyne’s large bold wirework jewellery stood out…this was something I needed to complement my large glass pieces and I spent some time talking with Carolyne about her work.  I signed up for her ‘Introduction to Jewellery Making’ class but couldn’t wait to start, so I went home with some Artistic Wire and a Wig-Jig to play with.  I didn’t use it at this stage.  I went along to class and found a group of like-minded people and continued to attend term classes for over two years.  Carolyne recognised my profound sadness and has been very supportive and kind, and she was right, the classes proved just what I needed for companionship and sharing a passion.  I was impatient to learn wirework, but Carolyne persisted with me and taught me a multitude of finishing techniques and design principles and then wirework and how to do it well and with style and emphasis on detail, she also taught me how to fire glass pendants with inclusions to create holes for threading rather than using bails. Some of the pieces I have made since are inspired by Carolyne’s work. It is time for me to find my style…  Hmm…still not sure.  So off to Sydney Jewellery School http://www.sydneyjewelleryschool.com.au owned by entrepreneurial Roz Eberhard-Swann.  This school offers a plethora of jewellery mediums and techniques, taught by local jewellers and artists as well as several international guest artists each year.  DSC01161 Initially I chose Precious Metal Clay classes as this would work well with my fused glass pendants, then metal-smithing (copper/brass/fine and sterling silver), and also an array of enamelling techniques which I love.  I also learned to work with porcelainDSC01160 and combine ceramics with silver clay.  More recently I ventured into polymer clay, there is potential to combine this with precious metal clay, but I needs lots more practice to develop unique colour blends. The workshops are mainly technique based rather than project.  This is an effective teaching method as it encourages your creativity in applying learned techniques to your work. I know that glass is my medium and thus my direction and style is formulating more clearly now as I experiment with other mediums.  Glass will always be the feature, whether fused or enamelled, enhanced by metal-smithing, PMC and of course the fabulous Yellow rhombuswirework Carolyne Brennan (Hot Dot Designs) taught me.  I am several years down the track and having retired from my day job I have more time to focus on my style and develop this small business.   This page could go on and on…rather than that, I will discuss the various techniques I have learned within my Blog, this gives more opportunity for shared discussion re hits and misses and ideas for application.