Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Monday, 23 August 2010
Although I got see all of this I was not actually part of the class. I believe I got the best of both worlds, seeing the work people came up with and being able to get on with what Michael wanted me to do at the same time. The first task he gave me was to cut glass. I cut eight squares 30cm x 30cm x 6mm using a glass cutter and running pliers.
(Fig. 37. Glass cut for lightbox and for paint palettes.)
I still get a little nervous handling big sheets of thick glass but I didn't break any much to my delight. These eight panes were going to be turned into paint palettes. I also cut three pieces at 56cm x 53.5cm x 6mm for lightboxes Michael was making. He made the boxes slender without legs so they could be moves around and places on different surfaces freely. They were not too heavy and I believe a very good design. The glass was sandblasted on the inside and two strip lights were used. If ever I get my own studio I am going to copy these because they were much more manageable than an immobile table.
I made safe all the glass on a lathe which had a platform screwed onto it that you could rest your glass on while you used it. This was really useful and made it much easier to handle the bigger sheets. I had never seen an attachment like this on any lathe I'd used before but it was very straight forward and I would recommend it. The palettes were then ground by hand giving them an opaque quality. Michael wanted them done this way because they didn't have etching facilities and he believed sandblasting was too coarse and when paint was mixed on top of it all the vehicle be it oil or water fell to the bottom and got stuck there between the grooves. I used 360 silicone carbine green powder/grit mixed with a little water on the surface of the palette and ground in with a flat edged slab of glass. Each palette took twenty minutes.
The next job I did, which was really the final job that stretched for the rest of my stay there, was to make up test pieces. Michael who was originally a painter by trade wants to start having painting and glazing courses at Northlands, something they don't specifically do at the moment. One of the things he will need for this is a comprehensive set of tests for all the paints, stains, enamels and powders they will offer, so students can pick what colours they want to use.
(Fig. 38. Tetra and float glass cut for test pieces.)
I had to start doing these from scratch. Michael said I could double all the tests so I could keep a set for myself, which was really great of him and will be extremely helpful to me in the future.
First I cut all the glass, 140 tetra clear bullseye and 142 float all of which were doubled for my own use. I safetied all the edges so they would be easy for students to handle and not damage the brushes and I cleaned them using meths. I then began my tests. Each rectangle of glass was masking taped at the bottom so that once it was painted this could be peeled off to reveal a clean area to be written on.
(Fig. 39. Painting the test pieces.)
The top section is a gradiated matt going from dark to light so the whole range of possible colours can be seen. Beneath it I painted a straight line fading from dark to light and a wiggily line to show what the paint behaves like when it is traced with. At the very bottom I wrote on all of them with black trace giving the manufacturer, the colour and code, the firing temperature. All of the paints were mixed with water and gum. Where paints were sieved it is specified on the test. Dugusso, Optul and Thompson were all sieved. Dugusso, Reusche, Reusche high fire, Debitus, Pot Clay, Pottery Craft and Dekkend were painted.
I cannot begin to explain how useful this experience was for me, getting to go through all of these paints, enamels and powders like this and comparing their qualities.
(Fig. 40. A selection of the test pieces ready for firing in the kiln.)
I have never had this opportunity before. Getting to keep a copy has also been immensely kind as it would cost me a fortune to have to buy each of the paints in order to make up the tests myself. Now I can look back at them, decide the colours to use and buy those alone. It was a real treat getting to go to Northlands. It was a beautiful and friendly place and I was very well taken care of.
I feel truly privileged to have been a recipient of the Award for Excellence 2009 bestowed upon me by The Worshipful company of Glaziers and Glass Painters. I have learnt so much this past year, if I think back to what I knew before I started and what I know now it just doesn't compare. The more I learn the more I realise I do not know. I hope to continue my training and continue to seek out knowledge where ever I can. I am very lucky to have had this opportunity, because no matter what happens in the future no one can ever take away your education, and the skills and techniques I have learned this year are the building blocks for a lifetime. Thank you for granting me this gift and I will strive to prove myself worthy and make you proud.
I also learned how to mix up paint for spraying, something they did a lot of. On large sheets of architectural glass the paint tends to be sprayed on rather than painted by hand with a brush. The spraying allows a completely even matt finish or a completely even gradient to occur something that would be really hard to do on such a scale with brushes. How the paint is mixed for this is important because it determines how smooth the finish will be. Obviously if it is mixed badly there could be grains or lumps in it and this would be disastrous.
The first thing you are to do is to empty the powdered glass paint onto a smooth glass surface, like a table top or a palette. A lot of powder is used and a hole is made in the middle, like when baking, so the oil can be poured in. The powder is then folded in with a scraper, turpentine is added when needed to thin it out. Once it is a little runny it is poured into a sieve. The sieve is compiled of a plastic carton/bottle cut in half. The end with the lid is taken and the lid has a hole cut in the middle which is then sanded down so the edge isn't sharp.
(Fig, 33. Mixing paint for spraying.)
A mesh is stretched over this so that when the lid goes on the mesh is stretched and trapped tight between the bottle and the lid. The mesh is so fine you cannot visibly see any holes, it is the same type used in printing. This bottle with the mesh lid is then placed lid side down into the top of a glass jar. The mixed paint is scooped off the table and scraped into the upside down bottle where it is mixed with more turpentine. This mix is then gently pressed through the mesh in a circular motion with a tough stippling brush. Once it is all pressed through it should be 50/50 paint to turpentine. When left the paint will settle and the turpentine will float so it will be clear if it is or not. At this point extra turpentine can be added or easily scooped off as required. This is now mixed enough to spray with. When mixing in this fashion be careful not to press too hard with the brush because it can tear the mesh and then you will have to start again. An oil mix is always used for spraying, never water. To clean up use turpentine then white spirit, then to really clean brushes you can use 'nitro' which I think stands for nitro glycerine but may not. It was very toxic and throughout all of this I wore gloves, a mask and an apron.
The final piece of work I did at Derix was my own and it was inspired by my experience there. I designed five red flashed glass panels depicting a narrative concerning wasps. When I arrived at Derix I was moved into accommodation above the studios that had not been stayed in for some time and the window had been left open. The room I had to sleep in was inhabited by the beginnings of three wasp colonies which I had to sleep with the first night and was left alone to deal with. I did tackle these myself rather bravely I might add but the experience was a little traumatic for me and although I am not someone who particularly minds insects, staying with wasps was a nightmare. The obvious nests were small enough still to trap in jars and leave outside but there was one behind the wooden panelling on the walls which had to be sealed with silicone glue. It was swelteringly hot but as soon as doors or windows were opened the wasps would come back, even starting a new nest in the kitchen. It was not a fun experience. I used this as inspiration for my art which is designed to look like a children's fairy tale or a graphic comic. Each panel has an ornate border, like there used to be in old story books, and the art work inside tells a story which is also written in verse. The poem talks about a queen wasp moving in above the antagonists bed and how she kills her. I used red flash glass because I wanted to do some etching in the design because this I suspected would be the last chance I would get to use such facilities and I had to take advantage of them.
First I masked off the back of the glass with vinyl then the front. I cut the border out of the front but left the centre masked. I then painted on a red resist, this was the same as the green resist I mentioned before that I used in Peters. I painted this around the borders tracing the pattern I had designed on paper. I dried this out on a heated matt then painted a black substance mixed with turpentine that is used for asphalt and roofing on top. This is the same stuff I used at Lincoln Cathedral when I did etching there. At
(Fig. 34. Red resist painted in swirly patterns on the border.)
Once the asphalt paint had dried on the matt I used a knife to flick up the edge of the red underneath paint , which dries like a plastic, and I could then peel this pattern completely off. This means when etched it is the pattern and not the empty space around it that is etched. The asphalt paint protects those other areas. This same process was later repeated on the internal design, with the border vinyled instead. Once all the etching was complete I painted the rest of my design with tracing paint and oil called ‘siebdruck-oldirekt', fired it and added some highlights of silverstain. The stain was applied very differently from how I have done it before. It was premixed with oil and sat in a large tub. The paint was very thick and needed to be thinned down with turpentine. It was a little reddy and it was hard for me to gauge how thick the paint was and therefore how strong the colour would be as I had not mixed it myself.
(Fig. 35.Top panel shows the asphalt after it has just been painted on. The lower shows the same design after the pink Abdecklack has been peeled of.)
As it turned out I was quite unhappy with the colour. I had expected a stronger yellow and the colour was a little muddy and not very clear. I think I wanted a bright primary colour but that is not what I got. Overall though I was very happy with my work and did manage to get them back in one piece successfully.
(Fig. 36. My completed wasp design.)
I was grateful for being allowed to do so much of my own work while I was there and definitely learned a lot from the projects I had the pleasure of working on. The lamination process especially taught me a lot because I had never used any of the techniques before. The people were friendly but again I did find the language barrier a problem. I was sad to have never really got to meet any of the Derix family and unfortunately the wasps did put a bit of a downer on my experience. It was really great to have been able to go there, because I had wanted to see their studios for some time and now I have. It was also really useful to be able to compare their practice to Peters Glasmalerie and see how they were run differently. One major difference is that Peters takes on apprentices that it trains up, Derix on the other hand does not. It employs people who are already trained, maybe people from other studios or sometimes people from a glass technical college not too far away called Hadamar. Whereas people at Peters said it was relatively easy to get an apprenticeship if you wanted one and to stay on after if you were not incompetent, the staff at Derix told me it was hard to get work there, or that they were surprised to get their jobs. The environment felt different because of this. If I am ever back in that part of
(Fig, 29. One of the Lipertz panels cut to size and polished.)
The wood was butted up against the edge of the window and the nail drew along the edge of the wood. As the wood was moved along the glass edge, so the nail was moved along the wood edge. Once the strips were drawn out in this way they were cut with a
(Fig. 30. Brass strips cut to size, drilled and coated in solder.)
(Figs. 31. Brass strips soldered to window leading.)
Once all the lead is cut to size it is soldered onto the leading around the glass using liquid flux which is painted on. 5mm overlap between the lead I'm adding and the leaded border to make sure it is really secure. After soldering the lead is wiped with a tissue to remove the flux which dries black and is unsightly. The lead strips are then trimmed with metal cutters in some places to make sure they mimic the contours of the lead work underneath. Long flat brass rods are cut down to 3cm strips, each of which had a hole drilled in it. These are what will finally attach the windows to the stonework. A different flux is used on these called 'lot wasser'. It is an acid and a stronger flux which when soldered sizzles. I have to wear gloves to use it because it is so acidic. The tip of each brass rectangle is painted with this flux then soldered on both sides. These are then soldered onto the lead work around the edge of the glass, on top of where the strips of lead were soldered earlier. Nails will go through the holes in the brass and into the church stonework to hold the panels in place. Even although some of the windows were quite big and heavy enough that they were hard for me to lift they only had about five of these little brass attachments on each window. They told me they were very strong so they didn't need many.
(Fig. 32. Lipertz panels completed and ready for installation.)
Some of the solder leaked through to the front and this was removed by reheating the solder with an iron and wiping it with wire wool while it was still hot. The front face of the leaded strips was rubbed down with putty then brushed with a polishing brush to blacken up the lead. These windows were then complete and ready to be installed. I thought they looked really good and I actually quite liked the extra lead from an aesthetic point of view because it really framed the designs.I have now described all the work I took part in in the glazing department while at Derix glass studios. I will now explain what I did in the painting department. The most notable work I did in this department was to help with some restoration painting. They were working on a project originally by Johann Klaus in 1872. The windows were from Munchberg in the
(Fig. 32. Left hand side shows copied panel, right hand the original.)
This meant that I ended up painting the matt, firing it, then a few days later having to do the whole thing from the beginning with another matt, then another because this decision could not be reached. I did not really mind doing this and was just happy it was the colour they had chosen and not my painting that was the problem.
(Fig. 26 . Oldenberg project ready for removal of glue.)
The glass, once glued, is sat on an electric matt to speed up drying. It usually takes four hours to cure but with the matt it can be set in one hour. A lot of the work I did while in Derix was cleaning up laminated panels. Once dry excess glue has to be removed. First all the tape and the vinyl is pulled off. A scalpel and a sharp blade are
(Fig.27. Excess glue removed from Oldenberg glass.)
used to score around the edges of the glass to make sure no trace of extra silicone is stuck on. This takes a while. The glass is lathered in white spirit and the edges are gone over with wire wool afterwards. Once it is cleaned in this way it is cleaned again with glass cleaner. The blades must be extremely sharp otherwise the cut lines will look ragged and be visible and this would be a disaster.
For the Oldenberg project, after cleaning I masked the edges and top surfaces with foil and tape so that the bottom could be sandblasted. If the glass had not been taped this way it would have been a nightmare to clean out the sand. Altogether for this project there were three layers of glass, and two layers sandwiching them all together. Top layer was the art glass then a layer of silicone glue sticking it down to tempered glass with foil to laminate it to a final layer of tempered glass. The tempered glass, foil, tempered glass combination is outsourced and done by another company. Tempered glass is very fragile but strong. The edges when knocked or dropped will cause the whole glass to shatter into thousands of pieces, but at the same time hold together. This is important because it means if the ceiling light was to be broken it would not fall down onto everyone's heads.
The final piece of work I did in the glazing department was on Markus Lipertz's St. Andreas Cloister in
The first task I did on this project was to putty and clean the windows that had already been leaded. The way we puttied them was slightly different from how I had puttied in the past. The putty itself was different. It was like leaded light cement but without the black colouring. It came in large plastic pots and some of it was a little watery.
(Fig. 28.Putty taken from bucket brushed into Lipertz project then sawdusted.)
The consistency was more like linseed putty, a little grainy. I think it was subtly different from anything I had used before because it was something they made up themselves, but no-one was able to tell me. I brush puttied the panels, but using a much nicer brush than I had used in the past. Whenever I had done this job before it was always done with a cheap rubbishy brush sometimes even with plastic hairs, or the firm long and flat type you use to polish shoes. In Derix I was given a completely new beautiful brush, very like a large English Stippler and it was quite sad getting it so messy. Another thing that was different was that they used sawdust instead of whiting to soak up the oil.
The process was simple: Firstly, apply putty with brush, making sure it goes under all the lead; Secondly, scrape off excess with a flat edged wooden stick and then press down the lead (usually in my experience this would be done with an oyster knife, however I didn't see a single one used the whole time I was in Germany so I think perhaps it's just not part of the tradition there); Thirdly, cover with sawdust and brush with a normal cleaning brush (as described above) to work the sawdust in so it can soak up oil left from the putty, a rag is also used to do this. The brushing is done quite vigorously to really clean the putty residue off the glass; Fourthly, go around the edges of the lead with a nail to remove the harder to reach excess putty then vacuum the glass to lift off all the sawdust, then re-sawdust any areas that are not quite clean.Once the panels were puttied and cleaned I had one final job to do on them. I had to cut to size and solder on sheet lead to go around the edges of the windows. As I mentioned above the glass is not going back into the stone work but sitting in front of it. Because of this there was a concern that light would seep past the outer edge of the glass and be obvious and unsightly from the floor below.
(Fig. 29. Lipertz project. Sheet lead cut long and laid in place over wooden batons to solder.)
The artist Markus Lipertz did not want this. It was therefore decided that extra lead would be cut and attached onto these outer edges, the sheeting will overlap the stone a little and because of this it will block out all unwanted light.
I did do a little restoration work while I was there for the painting department. This was on panels from a window by Johann Klaus in the
First I will explore the work I did in the glazing department starting with the two projects featuring lamination, Vladimir Oldenburgs retirement home and Guy Kempeas toilets.
The German way of making up a window uses paper templates which are cut for each and every individual pieces of glass in the window. The glass is then cut to the templates. This is instead of having everything cut to a design on a big piece of paper which is obviously how it is done in the
(Fig. 24 Paper template over glass showing sawing technique.)
The first job I was given at Derix was to cut glass sections to the templates given using a Taurus Ring Saw by Gemini made in the
My first step in this process was to lay the template out on top of the glass and when I had it in the correct position hold the paper down with weights. I then drew around the rectangular shape with a water resistant pen. I cut out this shape on the saw a couple of millimetres from the pen line then ground the rest down on a glass grinding machine. The only difficulties were that the pen lines kept washing off, the large glass sheets were difficult to balance and if the paper got damp it would lose its shape. On the whole though it was very straight forward. It took me a few days but I did about twenty of them all together and I was happy with the results.
On both the Oldenberg project and the Kempea project I got to see and take part in the lamination process which was the same for both. First the glass is cleaned thoroughly with white spirit. The larger piece of glass that is to be glued onto is put on the table.
(Fig. 25. Pt. 1. Guy Kempeas Project, Pouring the glue.)
(Fig. 25. Pt. 2. Placing the glass.)
(Fig. 25. Pt. 3. Leaving it to set.)
Vinyl covered the areas of this sheet of glass that are not to be glued. Tape is put around all four edges of the glass with a couple of inches sticking up above the surface of the glass, this creates a barrier where excess glue cannot pass and stick the glass to the table accidentally. Strips of sticky thick foam which come in a roll like tape are stuck down creating a damn around the area to be glues to stop glue going further than intended. Squares of this foam are also stuck at the edges of where the new piece of glass to be laminated will go, and at the corners so it will be easy to get everything in the right place. This also stops the glass from sliding about and moving once stuck down. The upper surface of the glass, the side that will not be laminated, on the piece getting stuck down is also covered in vinyl.
(Fig.21. Madonna and Child with mixing palettes and colour samples to match original.)
This was an image of the Madonna and child. I first painted in the blue and yellow garments and yellow backdrop before firing, then added pink for the skin tones and more blue to the garments and background. It was very straight forward and I was happy with them because I think mine turned out better than the one I had to copy from.
The final project they gave me was the job of adding in painted shadows to a fused rose design. I tried the first rose with the same oil and turpentine mix as I had used before and then did the rest with water because it seemed to be easier. The oil was very hard to clean up after but the effect was softer, possibly a little nicer. I used black paint and stippled all of them.
(Fig.21. Completed Rose designs.)
The original design was by Albert Bocklage and they had been recreating the same image using lots of different techniques in order to show prospective clients the different possibilities that were available to produce a similar decorative effect.
I was also permitted to create my own work in the studio in my own time which was very kind of them and it was really nice for me to be able to work on my own creations. I translated drawings I had done in the past into painted glass.
(Figs.22. My finished work. Reclining woman design)
(Fig. 23. Sitting man design.)
I was extremely happy with my reclining woman image which I liked even better than the original, but the figurative painting of a man sitting I did I don't feel worked as well.
I am grateful of the opportunity I was given to come to
(Fig.17. Cleaning the museum windows.)
to do the job as thoroughly as I would have liked. I did this using spray foam cleaner and tissue, with wire wool on trickier areas.
Biedermann and Natalia Sittner. I was to help with some tests they were doing for their own research. Thousands of squares of clear glass, yellow textured glass and green glass had been cut. I had to put masking tape around the edges of each of these. Once I had made a substantial pile it was time to paint them. They were painted with a substance I had not seen before that was essentially a liquid gold in a bottle. This was mixed with a little turpentine to make it easier to handle and was them painted on. It went on with the appearance of a thick browny colour but after firing in the usual way it turned to a mirrored gold, so clear I could see my reflection in it. It was extremely easy to use and only painted on very thinly but with the
(Fig.18. Gold paint sample.)
same result. I was told the paint had actual gold in it which is why it was so expensive and used sparingly.
The next project I worked on was for the gift shop. They had already made several small screen printed panels and it was my job to add the colours. The image was a heart shape in bright kiddy colours and was called 'Regenbogenherz'. It was designed by Dietlind Schmiedek from
Nienberg. I mixed bright pink, salmon pink, green, blue and yellow and began to create a matt finish of these colours all across the heart. They were to look blurry so each colour faded into the next. I just used water and a little gum arabic in the paint. Once I did my matt I cleaned away the excess and scratched off areas where other colours were to go. It was very much like painting by numbers, as I just had to follow a photograph of one done previously as best as I could. After firing some of them looked better than others. I'm not sure if they were happy with them or not as most of the people I was working with could not speak English and I speak no German.
I also did some various church restoration work while I was there. Broken panes of glass would come in and it would be my job to replicate them. I do not know what churches they were from as nobody could understand my question, but I believe they
(Fig.20. Example of glass restoration using oil formula, from unknown church.)
were from several different sources as they looked quite dissimilar. They mixed up their own vehicle for these which they kept in a jar. I wish I knew what was in it because it was extremely good but again no-one could tell me. I took down the German names but I have not yet had time to translate them although I could smell the clove oil and by the colour I think there may have been linseed also. This mixture was then mixed with a little turpentine which made it dry within about an hour which is quick for oil in my experience. It was a really beautiful solution to work with and painted very well.