Monday, July 26, 2010

Materiality

First day at Canberra Glassworks I was very nervous. I had to work with glassblower Annette Blair to make the "swamp bubbles" for the Swamp Cartography exhibition. I've never worked with glass before and, as I labored over my sketchbook only to produce some very basic drawings I realize how much I rely on touching my materials to make my work. I make thousands of little decisions when I'm making, from the very moment I cut the bag of clay open right up until deciding how slowly to dry the piece out I'm tweaking and adjusting to what the materials are telling me they can do. Designing a piece in a hands off way is a totally different mindset.
I'm so used to working in contact with the materials that in some ways I can't even tell what the piece is like until I touch it. You see this in crafts of all types from the way bakers touch the dough through to the way mechanics cradle engine parts in their hands. The touch is what's telling them about the object. Entering a process where there is no touch literally felt like being blind, weirdly panicky and uncertain.
But...Annette did a fabulous job. It turned out that we liked the same colours and when I said "Brownish /purple" she really knew what I meant. This was instantly reassuring! Here is what she blew...swamp bubbles
Aren't they beautiful?

5 comments:

Janet K @ Manly Gallery said...

absolutely exquisite Shannon, never seen anything like it! love it madly

Anna said...

Love the swamp bubbles and I know what you mean about the tactile element - I tried silver work jewellery a few months ago and it just didn't 'feel' right - back to the clay for me :^)

Leslie Avon Miller said...

These are very beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Im so glad you liked them! cant wait to see what you do with them! -netty

createniks said...

That is sooo beautiful!