Karen Lilley (Lilley Glass Designs) - Design Process for Black and Green work.
This body of work started life as part of my Glass Techniques course that I finished last June. We could choose any subject, but the idea was that all the work should be obviously linked. I didn’t want to have to choose only one technique (am quite a butterfly) so did look at ideas with the wish to produce fused and slumped work, lampwork and blown work.
I like plants and flowers and so chose to collect a whole heap of pictures of leaves and flowers which I gathered together in my sketch book. Having got them together I considered which I found most striking, which I thought it might be practical to do something with bearing in mind the constraints of glass. These are the ones I liked best for this project (there are others of flowers, seedheads etc etc in my sketch book, some of which I used for other things):
I liked the shapes and the black and green. I liked the stripes.
These bits are from East’s packaging, I like the Chrysanthemum, though I prefer the monotone version they have (top left, rather than the bottom one).
I did some drawing and came up with this:
Largely based on lines from the East Chrysanthemum and the stripes from the collage, and in the three colourways, because although I thought green and black would be what I would go for (that’s why that one is the top one) I thought I should just do a bit of colour investigating to be sure.
I made this plate in black and green, not without its problems, the long thin bits of green were hard to cut without them breaking and it did take a long time to cut for what is quite a small dish and therefore had a limit on what I could charge for it. It also took a fair time to arrange all the bits of green on the base plate of black. Irritatingly one of the greens also had a tendency to devit so I ended up having to cap it with clear and fire it a second time before slumping it. Once I’d slumped it I sandblasted the underside so there was a matt underneath and a shiny top.
I liked it and made coasters to match.
However, if I was to make bowls of this sort then the process had to be quicker, it just was not economical to make the bowl with so many leaves so I simplified it and made:
At the same time I was playing with pattern bar (fusing glass into a solid shape e.g. square, triangular etc which can then be sliced up). Having decided that I liked green and black I made some triangular pattern bar that I sliced up and polished. To decide how I would like to have it arranged for a dish I played with it, moving the bits around each other – so there aren’t any pictures of this. I found I liked a square pattern with chevrons that reminded me of the stripy leaves (though they were green and red). The pattern bar section was not big enough for a plate so I needed to do something to make it plate sized, more stripes of green and black seemed a good plan so I made this square sushi dish
How to make some lampwork that would sit with this green and black work? I decided to continue with the stripes so I made stripy green and black beads starting with a black base and winding trails of different coloured green stringers round the bead. I then raked the trails backwards and forwards (I have a weakness for this sort of raking, it reminds me of colourful book edges and papers, and it also echoed the red and green stripy leaves from the picture). I wanted a lentil shape and so used a press to get a nice shape and consistent sizes. I made a necklace and a bracelet with the beads. I used copper as I thought it went with the green and black better than silver.
The blown work, well, I was (and still am) at the stage of learning how to do it at all, so for that I decided I would make pieces that had a trail which was then raked
I didn’t have any black or red so replaced the black with yellow, this is one of the very early pieces.
I’m still enjoying stripes – this is one of my more recent vases.
Now I’m playing with other ways of getting stripes, using an optic mold and also experimenting with different rims too:
And so the process continues and evolves.
I hope you enjoyed this.
PS: Please don’t think I’m always this structured though – sometimes I go to the torch with no idea of what I’m going to make until I start, sometimes I go to the torch or the hot shop to practice a particular skill (that’ll be encased floral beads in the case of lampwork – I love them and want to learn how to put flower murrine in to beads).
To see more of Karen's gorgeous work, you can visit her website: www.lilleyglassdesigns.co.uk