our craftmakers . handcrafted glass . enamels . craft nsw
Slumped and Kiln Fired Glass
My work is about colour and movement, using abstract geometric forms in response to the Urban environment, whether it be the shape and colour of the windsurfers darting across the harbour, the imposing forms of the inner city buildings or the soft patterns of dark and light of the Australian foliage.
My response is with colour, shape, line blackblackand form, either with coloured glass, which I cut to form the mosaic pattern, or by using enamels to paint on the glass. I make use of the transparency, iridescent and opaque qualities of both.
Since attending an introductory lampworking class in late 2003 I have devoted myself to working with glass in the flame. I have worked full time at the torch ever since and launched my business Fire Bird Beads in 2006. I was lucky enough to take week long workshops with David Chatt (bead needleweaving) and Keith Lo Bue (found object jewellery) and enjoy incorporating these techniques with lampwork. I have studied lampwork with Brenda Coleman, Peter Minson, Robin Foster, Jan Cahill and Bernard Stonor.
My inspiration is glass itself. Colour has always been a driving force in my work, and the infinite and often unpredictable colour reactions in glass when working with metals and reduction techniques fascinates me. Every piece I make leads to new ideas and questions and this endless experimenting with reactions and possibilities will keep me working happily for a very long time.
Enamel is glass. Finely ground glass is fused to metal. Each item is individually kiln fired. Many layers are fused at temperatures of 750°C to 950°C by several short firings. I have specialised in enamels for over 30 years, and have extended my knowledge by attending classes in the United States, Great Britain and Germany. I use techniques to express an idea, not as an end in itself. I like to push the three elements, glass metal and heat to their limits and to vary the scale of my work, creating fashion jewellery, sculpture, enamel inlays on wood and leather boxes and large wall pieces.
The inspiration for the design in my work is derived more from Australian imagery than historical enamels, though overseas travel has widened my horizons. My current interest is in forming copper in individual shapes before applying enamel. I am also interested in exploring electroforming
My life as an artist over 40 years, has had many facets; a career in advertising, studies in pottery, drawing, painting and fashion and jewellery design. My kaleidoscopes explode with colour - great fun to design. Some of my pieces feature our native flannel flower, varying in form as if still in the state of evolution - captured in glass. Lately, I have been designing quirky little birds, and incorporating them in my jewellery and box designs. Some are free standing, some have feathered tails - all have attitude.
I enjoy 'challenging the medium'. The colours and vibrancy offer great possibilities: fusing colour to create new colours and textures, acid etching, painting, copper foiling and kiln work - devising new ways to achieve my aims. The challenge is exciting and endless.
Glass, a multi-functional material not only works as a vehicle to reveal, but as a medium affords the quality of light, uniquely its own. The linking of sheet glass and enamel colours enables me to have control and the freedom to make use of the medium's inherent qualities, transparency, translucency and opacity, contrasted by the transformation once the work is relinquished to kilnfiring techniques.
Observation of the Australian natural environment, the effect of light and movement and the detail of texture and colour is the vocabulary of my art. By combining functional form with applied design, I aim to express the visual impact and rugged character of this land of dramatic contrasts.
A practicing artist of 30 years, I have painted on various surfaces to achieve my visual expression. Since 1989 I have worked solely on glass, developing the skills necessary to accomplish this end. The glass vessel is my canvas today and my work explores a fusion of traditional and modern myths with personal beliefs, symbolising the invisible ties and restraints which cultural and traditional practices and superstitions can exert on successive generations of women.
A search for simplification of technique and the compositional compatibility of glass with enamel colour, while retaining the qualities unique to glass, is ongoing. The content of my visual expression continues to expand in the series 'Golden Traditions'.
As both artist and teacher, I have worked in many areas of craft-art, in Australia, the United States and Japan.
Penel Bigg lampwork glass