Tuesday, 1 December 2015

O Christmas Tree!

Christmas Tree Decoration 

At the beginning of the year I made 30 glass Christmas trees ready for the end of the year then put them away, feeling smug. However, since November there has been a Christmas Tree explosion! I am now making a batch a week and they have been selling out each weekend.  I have another 20 in the kiln for East Riddlesden Hall Christmas Fair on 5th and 6th December.  They are such a delight to make - mixing up coloured glass and hand decorating with gold and white glass powder.  Finally, they are finished off with red and white striped string. 

Multi colour Christmas Trees

I've even made some spotty ones too and I am teaching Glass Decorations at Skipwith Common, Nr York on Monday 7th December at Silver and Stone

More Trees

Christmas Trees are available for sale at my Etsy Shop or visit my Facebook Page too.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Watercolour Glass

Watercolour Glass Dish

I've got a new glass design to add to my collections.

Watercolour Glass has been a bit of an experiment, using up tinted glass cullet placed slightly randomly and decorated with coloured glass "blobs".  After the second firing I painted tiny gold stars and then refired at a lower temperature. The tinted glass is 3mm thick (I usually use 2mm Bullseye glass) and so the dish is slightly chunkier and heavier. 

I am very pleased with the results so I am planning to make more dishes in different sizes (this one is 30cm).  Tinted glass is more expensive than 2mm transparent glass so it does push the price of making it up - particularly if I use my favourite colour, Rhubarb, which is a pinkish-greyish colour.  This is because pink/red glass has a gold content which creates the colour. 

But I haven't forgotten about the weaving..... 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Glass Versus Weaving

Wool yarn from Texere Yarns

It's here! A big package of assorted yarns from Texere Yarns in Bradford ready for my next project. Lots of lovely colours (three shades of black) and some Chinese silk yarn for dyeing too.  I love the aqua and pistachio yarn - can't wait to start experimenting.I'm also hard at work in the attic studio creating glass for several events. The new Christmas exhibition opens at Just Makers in Harlow Carr very soon and I also have events in Masham, Saltaire, Kelbrook, East Riddlesden and Headingley in November and December. 

Christmas Trees for Harlow Carr

So glass versus weaving - which one will win out? It will have to be glass of course (but I can always weave instead of sleeping I suppose) 

I have a weaving diary on Pinterest HER

Monday, 5 October 2015

Circles and Ovals

Circles and Ovals

I've been getting in lots of practice at this tapestry weaving malarkey.
My warp tension is improving and I'm not tightening the weft too much (although it could still be neater).  I have been trying to weave circles and ovals using a wool yarn in flat colour.  Placing a piece of white paper behind the warp has made weaving shapes so much easier. I have also woven another practice sample but it is so bad I'm ashamed to show it.  It has some soumak that I tried to weave to outline shapes but, when I wove a vertical line, the soumak became thick and messy. I need soumak advice!
I have just ordered a lot of weaving yarn so I am expecting a big box of lovely colours to play with.
Jo X
Weaving on  a canvas stretcher

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Threads of Feeling

In 2010 The Foundling Hospital Museum in Bloomsbury, London put on an exhibition called "Threads of Feeling - 18th Century Textile Tokens left with Abandoned Babies". You can see more about it HERE on a slide show.

When babies were left at the foundling hospital the only things identifying them were tiny scraps of fabric. Although the babies were given new names and were not told of their previous history, mothers were encouraged to leave a token with the baby so that, should they ever be able to return to claim their children, they would have something that would identify them. 

The Foundling Hospital Museum is a moving place to visit - the thought that, out of all the abandoned babies only a few were ever reclaimed, is heart rending. Also, almost two thirds of babies taken in died - not through neglect but because the infant mortality rate in London was so high. 

I have woven a copy of a piece of cloth that was pinned to a baby boy who was left at the Foundling Hospital. He would have been under 2 months old (the hospital was so overwhelmed with babies that it could only take 20 children a month - under the age of 2 months) and, if he had survived, he would have been sent off to a wet nurse in the country straight away.  At age five he would have returned to the hospital to be educated and then apprenticed at 10. (Sadly, he died soon after he was taken in).

Threads of Feeling woven sample

If you are visiting London please put The Foundling Hospital Museum on your itinerary of places to visit. 

Jo X

Friday, 18 September 2015

Weaving for the Soul Part 3

My second sample

Last week I wove my second tapestry weaving sample.
It didn't go too well.  The problems started as soon as I wove the first few wefts because the warp thread wasn't strong enough and it snapped.  I had to keep tightening the right hand warp and, as I wove, the weft on the right hand side got thinner and thinner.  The weft on the left hand was fine.
Anyway, I couldn't complete the piece because, by the time I reached the top the warp was shrinking too much.  Lesson learned: make sure the warp yarn is strong!

This piece is all about experimenting with different yarns including metallic thread and silk.  The weft from the green section up to the top of the piece is all silk thread, hand dyed by me, left over from embroidery projects. As it is space dyed it gives the tapestry a depth that uniformly dyed yarn doesn't have. Also, silk has a natural lustre to the fibres which I love. 

I need a lot more practice at circles and shapes - hopefully I will be able to get an even weave eventually.  You can follow my weaving journey on Pinterest too.Jo X 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Glass Dishes Workshop

On Saturday 7th November I will be teaching Glass Dishes at The Garth at Skipwith Common, just outside York.  Here is a bit more information about it.

Enjoy a day designing and making a trio of fused glass dishes including trinket dish, curved dish and square dish (13cm square).  Experiment with opal and transparent colour glass, add inclusions such as mica and copper to create sparkle. Stunning results and lots of fun.  No previous experience of glass cutting necessary.  Fees: £80

If you would like to book a place on this one day workshop please click on the link HERE which will take you to Silver and Stone where you can book your place. Any questions about the workshop (or future workshops) please email me HERE

Tealights or trinket dish

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Weaving for the soul part 2

My first finished sample

I have finished my first weaving sample.
I thought I would have a try at weaving circles - they came out bigger than I thought they would. The cream coloured one turned out the best. After the first one (on the left) I realised that I needed to make the sides of the circle longer so that it would keep its shape and not look squashed.  After that I wove a row of soumak before moving onto straight lines.
Below the circles I attempted to weave a blend of beige, cream and brown lines but I made a bit of a pig's ear of it (weaving three colours under electric light wasn't such a good idea) so I tried it again after the circles by using only two colours (rust and cream). Definitely an improvement. My final band has been to practice shapes with a wavy background of a slightly thicker yarn.  

I can't begin to tell you how therapeutic this has been so far - it really takes all my concentration. This has to be good for the soul! 

I've cut the sample from the frame and woven all the ends into the back.  My next sample will be straight lines because I need to practice getting the selvedge even - it's quite lumpy and bumpy. 

Jo X

Monday, 7 September 2015

Glass coaster workshop

Fused Glass Coasters

On Sunday 11th October I will be teaching a one day workshop on creating your own fused glass coasters.  This will be my first workshop at The Garth, a workshop complex on Skipwith Common, near York, i am booked to teach more of them from October.

There are eight places at this workshop - I like to work with small groups of people to ensure that everyone gets enough tuition and encouragement.  Each student will design and make a set of 4 coasters which are then fired off-site in my kiln and returned, along with rubber bumpons on the base of each coaster. This is aimed at beginners and improvers alike - if you have never cut glass before then this is the ideal project on which to learn.  You don't even need to bring along a design - I can supply you with ideas and inspiration.

To book a place please visit Silver and Stone HERE, you can book on-line or email Helen for more details.  The workshop is from 10am to 3pm and refreshments are provided.  However, it is advisable to bring a packed lunch. There is plenty of free parking. 

All materials are provided but you must wear old clothes or bring an apron. Also, make sure your arms and legs are covered (jeans or trousers) and no open toe sandals please.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Weaving for the soul

My first sample

I have taken up tapestry weaving.
Whilst on holiday I visited Woolfest at Cockermouth and re-ignited my love of all things textile. When I studied textie design (many years ago) I did a short course on handweaving at The Handweavers Studio  in Walthamstow and I absolutely loved it. But printmaking dominated my studies and I abandoned constructed textiles in favour of surface decoration.
I am amazed at how much I remember from that short course as I embark on the first of a series of samples I am going to make in order to practice and re-learn the techniques of tapestry weaving.  This first sample shows plain weave, a soumak, blending colours, pick and pick, stripes and curves.  I can already see that the warp is bulking out at the sides (!) because I am not puling the weft firmly around the end warps. (This is because I am trying to avoid pulling the weft too tight and distorting the warp)

I have a very long way to go before I am a confident weaver - I am waiting for the lovely weaver Chrissie Freeth to start teaching so that I can become an improver rather than a beginner - but it is such a therapeutic activity.  I shall be keeping a weaving diary here on my blog so that I can chart my progress. 

Jo X

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Hoorah for Small for All!

Box of smalls

Last month I decided to collect undies for the charity Small for All. Between us my daughter and I managed to gather four bras but then I put out an appeal on Facebook and the response has been overwhelming.Here is the box packed full of new and barely used undies, all collected by lovely creative Yorkshire people including brand new packs of knickers. Most people brought their contributions to my stand at Art in the Pen, the rest dropped them off at the shop where I work in Saltaire. 

Smalls donation box

The satisfaction of collecting for Smalls for All is that I don't have to ask anyone for money or sponsorship and the donations go directly to the recipients. Here's what the charity has to say about it.

"Because many women and children in Africa can't afford underwear, they fall victim to disease and attack. And girls who are lucky enough to have a place in school often miss 3 or 4 days a month due their lack of underwear. Smalls for All donates underwear in many ways - through links with established charities; through hospitals that treat women with conditions like fistula; through IDP camps and children's homes and orphanages"

If you missed the collection and you would like to donate to Small for All please visit their website. If you don't have any smalls to spare they accept financial donations too.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Lots of preparation!

Art in the Pen is nearly here and I still have a list of tasks to complete before Friday 14th August! 

Today I ordered the flowers for my table display. We have an excellent florist in Saltaire, Brambles and Blooms, and I have picked a selection of green sculptural flowers to go with long white lilium grandiflorum. I'm hoping they will make a show.All my electrics have now been pat tested - one floor lamp didn't pass so I am buying a new one this week. I have bought dust sheets from B and Q to cover the bars of the pen and I have sewn acres of retro bunting too.  All my furniture is now painted and I am very proud of my bargain circular table I got for a whopping £20 from the auctioneers at Killinghall. My lovely new display boxes arrived on Monday, hand made by a local joiner, and tomorrow I will be painting those too. So, it looks like I am nearly ready - what am I missing?

GLASS! Oh yes, nearly forgot about the glass.....

New glass - Rretro Square

This year I introduced a new design (well it is an old design but I have revisited it and improved upon it) - Retro Square. I love the combination of lime green, acid yellow and bright tangerine shining out on white opal glass with touches of turquoise, aqua and emerald. Retro Square is all about colour and reasons to be cheerful and I have made fruit plates, oval fruit bowls, coasters, tealight holders and sushi-style dishes.

There will also be my usual glass tableware - Bar Code Stripe, Fleur, Honeycomb and Spun Sugar - as well as Scandi birds and Funky Fish.  To find out more about Art in the Pen at Skipton Auction Mart please visit the website, ArtiinthePen.

Finally, I am pen 69, surrounded by lovely artists - please come and say hello. 
Jo X

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Design Inspire Live

Design Inspire Live at Headingley Heart

This Saturday (13th June) I shall be taking my glass to Design@Heart, a unique event at The Heart Centre, Headingley for designer homewares and gifts. I'm quite excited about this event because it is the first one of it's kind at The Heart Centre, replacing the craft fairs with something a bit more tailored to customers interested in original items for the home.The ethos behind Design Inspire Live is to promote designer makers with themed events, where we can showcase and sell our work. These events have been designed and created by Becky Moore, herself a creative designer and you can find out more by visiting the website DesignInspireLive.

The Heart Centre Headingley

On a sad note, the organisers of Settle Artisans have decided to call it a day with the fairs at Victoria Hall, Settle so I won't be attending any future dates planned for this year. If you received a mail shot from me with the dates of all my activities for 2015, please note that it is only the Settle fairs I won't be at - I will still be at Masham, Art in the Pen at Skipton, Kelbrook Craft Fair and Strid Tea Rooms this summer.   If there are any future fairs planned at Settle I will definitely be signing up as Settle has always been a great place to sell my glass. 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

It's Show Time

January and February are the months that I spend applying for fairs, events and exhibitions. March to May are the months that I find out if my glass has been accepted - or not.

It's always a case of  "you win some, you lose some" and I'm pleased to say that I have only had one rejection so far this year (so we won't talk about that)!  Form filling and application processing are time consuming: editing and selecting images of new work, making payments, writing artist's statements that fit the word count, updating CVs - all take up time. Some galleries want to see images of the actual work that is to be submitted, others just want to see a selection that represents the artist's work.  This means that for exhibitions such as Platform Gallery's Craft Open I had to make the work in advance in the hope that it would get selected (it was :) )So now I am changing the pencilled-in dates in my diary to inked-in ones, paying more fees (bleurgh) and planning how to present and display my work.  Here is my event schedule for 2015 - I am hoping to add more dates in the next couple of weeks.

14 April - 10 May Glass and Ceramics exhibition at Just Makers The Old Bath House RHS Harlow Carr North Yorkshire

23 - 25 May The Makers' Fair Saltaire Arts Trail Victoria Hall Saltaire West Yorkshire

25 April - 4 July Craft Open Platform Gallery Clitheroe Lancashire

11 - 12 July Crafted by Hand Masham North Yorkshire

15 - 16 August Art in the Pen Skipton Auction Mart North Yorkshire

Monday, 2 March 2015

I love Mondays

I was chatting to one of our resident artists at work the other day and she said that she really looked forward to Mondays as she spent Sunday in anticipation of getting back to her studio.  Well I like Mondays too.

Today I'm off to Harlow Carr to drop off glass for a forthcoming exhibition. It's a lovely drive over to Harrogate via Beamsley Beacon (a very big hill) and I have a car boot full of new glass.  Harlow Carr is a fantastic place to visit, made up of extensive gardens and owned by The Royal Horticutural Society.  The exhibition, which opens on 17th March, will be in the Old Bath House and I am really looking forward to it.

The Old Bath House, Harlow Carr

I think the reason that I like Mondays so much is that no two days are the same. Last Monday I was teaching glass fusing and next Monday I will be enjoying a long weekend in The Lake District. Before I was self employed I worked for a building society and every monday (in fact, every day) was the same. 

Once I get back from Harlow Carr I will spend the rest of the day back in the studio creating more glass for an exhibition application with a deadline of the end of March (!) I'd better get busy then....

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Making Plans

At the end of each year, when I have finished my last event, I always tell myself that I will have plenty of time to make new glass during January and February and even take some time to develop new ideas and test out new materials. It has never happened and this year is no exception.

I have applied for three open call exhibitions and have been busy making new glass for each (I am only allowed to submit the glass shown on the application images) and I also have a show at Harlow Carr at the end of March.  In May I will be at Saltaire Arts Trail for three days and I will need plenty of glass for that too.  So the kiln has been on nearly every day and I have been cutting, grinding and cleaning as much glass as I can.

As a small business I always find January/February difficult months for cashflow - not much flows in but plenty flows out to pay for stall fees and submission fees.  I try to spread the cost of glass by making my significant purchases when Warm Glass has sales and offers. I took advantage of their 12 Days of Christmas offer in December to buy all my teaching glass and my staple glass - large sheets of clear, white and vanilla.  I only started planning to buy glass a couple of years ago when I created a Cashflow Forecast and monitored my spend from 2012.  Money spent on glass was chaotic and impulsive (and frequent)! so I have reined in my outgoings by setting a budget for each expense. This means I have cut down on buying magazines and books and keeping a record of my mileage. 

If, like me, you are a small business and struggle with balancing the books, I recommend setting up a Cashflow Forecast in Excel. Financial forecasting, budgeting and bank reconciliation is really boring so I set aside two hours a week to update my spreadsheets and accounts.  It might not stop you from spending money but it certainly answers the question "where does it all go"?

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Create Your Own Glass

Fused glass platter

Have you ever wanted to make your own fused glass platter, dish or wall piece? I offer individual tuition at my studio in Silsden, West Yorkshire to enable you to make a stunning piece of glass to your own design. 

Glass plate after the first firing

I design, cut and clean all my glass prior to placing it on the kiln shelf for fusing. Most of my glass goes through 2 days of kiln firing (coasters up to four) to achieve the finish that I like - a slightly raised design but all edges are well rounded.

Glass plate on platter slump mould

Once the glass is fully fired it is washed to remove any resideue of kiln wash and then placed onto a ceramic slump mould. The piece is then fired at a lower and slower rate so that it slumps down into the mould and takes the shape of the platter. This is always the exciting bit - opening the kiln to see the finished dish. Some glass fusers will grind the edges of the dish and refire it to "polish" the edges but if your firing schedule is slow enough this isn't necessary.

Slumped platter stll in the mould

If you would like to visit the Glassprimitif studio and make a large glass platter or wall piece you can contact me HERE. No previous experience of glass fusing is necessary and all materials are provided and refreshments too (but bring a packed lunch).

£150 full day - 10am to 5pm

Monday, 19 January 2015

Glass Fusing Workshops 2015

Enjoy a day of designing and creating your own glass at our friendly workshops at Lowe Maintenance Training in the heart of Settle, North Yorkshire
Saturday 18th April 2015 10am - 4pm (maximum no: 8)
Creating Glass Coasters
This workshop is aimed at absolute beginners and intermediate glass artists as an introduction to glass fusing.  The workshop will include: cutting skills, technical know-how, working with coloured glass,  designing and glass assembly.   Expert tuition given and  Bullseye glass used.

Saturday 16th May 2015 10am - 4pm (maximum no: 8)
Designing for Glass Jewellery
Aimed at jewellers and anyone with an interest in jewellery, this workshop will enable you to create a pendant, brooch and earring set using both Bullseye and dichroic coated glass. The ability to cut glass will be an advantage.

Costs: £70 (all materials and equipment provided)
Where: Lowe Maintenance Training 18 Duke Street Settle North Yorkshire BD24 9DN
To book: contact Jo Whitehead of Glassprimitif by email to
Jfwhitehead@blueyonder.co.uk or call  07837471040 or find us on Facebook
We accept payment by Paypal, BACS or cheque.  Full payment please, no deposits taken               


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Pick and Mix

Exhibition at Bradford College

Early in December I was invited to take part in the forthcoming Pick and Mix exhibition at Bradford College Dye House Gallery (13th January until 18th February 2015)
Bradford College holds a huge archive of textile samples dating back to the glory days when West Yorkshire was the centre of excellence in the textiles industry. Many of these samples date back as far at the 18th century and it is a great wealth of resource for anyone studying, or has an interest in textiles.

Sketchbook pages 

The exhibition will showcase the work of Yorkshire based artists, makers and designers in response to the archive.  I chose two textile samples from The Americas collection because, as I am from a textile background, I am very interested in mid century design.  Now they are finished and have been shipped off to Bradford College, I will get to see them in situ at the preview on Tuesday 13th January and I am really keen to see what everyone else's work will be like.

"1952" large platter 

"1956" curved fruit dish

If you are in the Bradford area pop into The Dye House Gallery, it really is a wonderful exhibition space. The Dye House Gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 11am until 4pm; with a special Saturday opening on 7th February 2015, from 10am until 4 pm