Local Heart, Global Soul

August 9, 2014

Ouch ! Only A Day Old And Here Comes The Knife!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today’s post is a continuation of yesterday’s where back in October of 2012 I was busy taking photographs of the soap making process as practices by Nikos of  Hotel Des Roses in Platania, on the Pelion peninsular in Greece.

Nikos uses olive oil as the base of his soaps and infuses organically grown herbs and flowers to perfume them.

Following on from the last photographs in yesterday’s post we find Nikos pouring the fresh, liquid soap into the prepared trays which will later be cut into bars of soap.

Once all of the  (in this case lavender)  infused mixture has been poured into the tray, Nikos  runs around the edges of the tray to release any bubbles that might be trapped down the sides.

He then sprinkles dry lavender flowers over the top. The smell during the entire process is wonderful.

It takes roughly twenty-four hours for the soup to turn solid, the process takes a little longer in the hotter Greek summer months and just a day in winter.

I’m lucky to be able to see the process with a tray of  Rose infused soap that had been made the day before, Nikos takes a long guillotine blade that has a handle at each end and slots it into grooves in the tray so that when he makes the cuts, each bar of soap is of a uniform size.

He wears gloves to protect his hands at this stage of the process  because until the soap “cures”  fully the mixture would burn your skin.

The curing process involves the bars being carefully spaced apart and being air-dried for a month, after that the soap can be used and will not burn in any way at all. In fact it will be so soft and neutral that this sort of soap is ideal for people with eczema and sensitive skin.

I can vouch for this because Nikos insisted on gifting me some soap for my photography efforts. I have asthma and sensitive skin and soaps with perfume or colour are guaranteed to leave me with a patchy sunburn-like rash. Since we visited Greece in 2012 I have now had the opportunity to have tried all of Nikos’s soaps,  without the slightest problem of skin irritation and thanks to a constant supply via my in-laws it is the only soap I have used since our visit.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I also gave some of these as a “Thank-you” gift to a colleague because she looked after the plants in my office whilst I was on holiday.

She has serious problems with eczema, but also has no problems with any of these soaps.

Nikos also makes soaps using donkey and goat’s  milk and both are wonderful on your skin, which feels smooth and moisturised afterwards.

She has in turn converted several of her friends to the quality of Nikos’s soap and I enjoy helping a little family business by ordering soap regularly from Nicos via my in-laws to pass on to them.

I love knowing all about the “process” of how things are made,  I especially love that everything in these is organic and natural, there are no weird chemicals, preservatives or colourants, and I love to support a small family business who care about the environment and how their product is made instead of a large multi-national who are generally only concerned with the fee being paid to their shareholders or the amount of profit they can make. After taking these photographs Nikos has another photographic project for me, but first some tea is provided with a smile, using their own organic camomile  flowers, refreshing and delicious!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 3, 2014

White-Work, Teaching Us How It Should Really Be Done….

Filed under: Craft,PHOTOGRAPHY,White-Work Embroidery — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

Following yesterday’s post about my short white-work course and my beginner’s efforts, Now I have the opportunity to browse through our teacher’s work book and see  how a professional stitcher can make these pieces look like works of art. The initialled letters are stunning in their detail, and the miniature panels that are samples of various stitches and their filler lace-like stitches are exquisite. Gorgeous! Let’s take a look….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 2, 2014

Step-By-Step White Work… Practice Makes Perfect!

 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sometimes Often I get a little stir-crazy at being housebound and less mobile. It’s difficult when taking morphine based pain relief, it makes me sleepy and my brain doesn’t make sense of much.

I know I have the attention span of a gnat but still have moments when I’m frustrated not to be “doing” something constructive.

I used to embroider constantly, tiny detailed work in miniature was my favourite but all the projects I’d been working on have lain untouched for almost four years now because I quickly discovered that making one mistake after another and unpicking a lot was more frustrating than not stitching at all.

To be honest I’ve been too tired and too sore to miss it most of the time, the idea of stitching again is nice but in practice it’s just too much effort. Back in 2013 however I saw a two day embroidery course to teach basic white-work (white embroidery on white background material) and since it’s something I’ve wanted to learn for years and years, decided to give it a go. During the entire time of the course it bucketed down rain , outside was stormy, dark and grey and I struggled with low light, as the flash photos were even worse. Luckily we used additional lamps to embroider by … hats off to the embroiders of centuries past who worked with candlelight and less than perfect daylight conditions.

The working of white-work turned out to have more steps that I ever imagined, it’s interesting to know and I’m pleased I had a go, but if I’m really honest my piece isn’t going to get any more work done to it now that the course has finished. The course was also given entirely in French, a good test for my rapidly rusting language skills. The top photograph is of the teacher’s amazing work:  I’m not certain if that’s inspiring or intimidating.

It’s concentration intensive and whilst I persevered for two days I’m just not going to carry one with this, or any sort of embroidery until I’m fully recovered from my accident. Still, at least learning more about the “process” is somewhat satisfying in it’s own way. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes, even if you only discover that you’d rather to retreat back into it again afterwards.

The first step is to outline your leaf with 2 millimetre long running stitches: first you make a line all around (it looks like – – – – – ) and then you turn around and come up in the centre of one stitch and go down in the centre of the next one. This looks a little like a miniature chain stitch in the end, but it’s very tightly packed…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now build up thick layers filling stitches within your outline stitch, following the natural form of the leaf and raised in the centre to give it a three dimensional, more realistic look. (don’t take any notice of the other outlined leaf  at the moment, I was in a queue of students waiting to learn the next step so started to outline a new leaf whilst I waited).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now begin to Satin stitch over the padding and the outline stitch, taking care to keep the stitches even and parallel, but at the same time “turning” slightly around the curves to follow the form of the leaf. (For me at least this is harder than it looks).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… Working your way up the leaf. (We were told to always start the Satin stitch at the outside thinnest part of the tip of the leaf).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One leaf completed…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now outline and pad the centre of the flower… Satin stitch first in a north-south direction and then Satin stitch it again in an east-west direction to give it the necessary fullness.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Again, I found the Satin stitch a bit of a challenge. In the next photograph I’m working on the split leaf, I have outlined and padded one half, but you only Satin stitch between the small pencil markings of the central section of the leaf at this point.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now you outline the other half of the leaf, stitch the padding and it’s only at this point that you Satin stitch over the remain padding  and outline stitches as you work up the leaf. (There was a queue again to ask the teacher questions so I started to pad another leaf).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My split leaf doesn’t look particularly natural, but for a first attempt, I’m happy enough. The plant stems need to be started by the flower and worked towards the main stem. Yes, they have to be padded too! (but not outlined). When the main stem is reached, taper off the stitches  so that you can blend them in smoothly later when the biggest stem is worked.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The main stem being padded, ready for Satin stitching…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is as far as I managed in the two days of the course. Here’s another piece of the teacher’s work to show how beautiful white-work looks when worked properly in expert hands…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

June 23, 2012

Reaching Maturity…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Amazingly even after all these posts I still haven’t covered the whole museum… there is the history of the Boarding house, more machinery, an entire hallway on New Zealand rural life, but at a certain point I’m thinking we’ve covered so much that the rest?…

… you’ll just have to come and see for yourself one day if you can. Gotta leave some surprises right?

In the meantime there’s some amazing artwork on display at the Kauri Museum … and some beautiful pieces for sale in the shop too.

This place is easily one of the highlights of our trip so far and I could happily do this all again, and again and again.

The Kauri have me in awe,  the human race has the power to cut them down physically but they in turn have the power to cut us down in a sort of emotional  and intellectual sense as their sheer size and age is dominant and inspiring.   In seeing tree rings that span two thousand years we see our own lives as puny smudges of existence in the landscape of time, and I really hope that this humbles us into trying to use our limited time as wisely as we can.

It’s traditional in New Zealand to celebrate your 21st Birthday as a very special occasion to mark your “coming of age”. Often you might be given a large key…  in wood, cardboard or some other material, to signify that you now may have your own “key to the door” and 21st Birthday cards are often in the shape of keys.  I see a carved “21st” key in the display and think it’s funny in light of being in the presence of these ancient trees that human beings think twenty-one means reaching maturity… if Kauri could speak I wonder what age wood would they set adulthood at?

… and if they could speak, with all that they could have witnessed in the 2000 year lifespan, would they think that human beings ever grew up?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 18, 2012

This Quilt gets a Big Stamp of Approval…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is the last of  the quilts that I’m detailing in the Kauri Museum.

There were so many that I could have made an individual post on… given you close ups and drooled about colour, technique, patterns and styles.

Many patterns as mentioned in a comment by GH, a fellow blogger from http://www.noodleswithbutter.blogspot.co.uk/  look like familiar American ones… if you look at my post of two days ago, indeed they probably are: quilting has gone International and quilters around the world add their own flavours, textures and colours according to their taste and the culture the pattern comes into.

This last quilt however has a flavour all of it’s own… and a theme that bought back many personal memories.

The quilt is called “Philately” and is a charity project by a local quilters group… and many of the stamps on it were ones I recognised!!!

How funny that memories came flooding back …of looking at stamps on letters as a kid and being fascinated by their designs. I even collected stamps for a little while as a child.

So sad that with the proliferation of e-mail, stamps will never really produce the same sort of memories for my children.

Not every stamp on the quilt is a New Zealand one and a few of the panels (the buzzy-bee toy) are iconic toys rather than stamps… but all in all, the wave of nostalgia that swept over me when I saw this quilt was palpable…

Yet again I’m in awe of the artisty and technical ability of these quilters. Since I’d love to learn quilting one day, these kind of exhibitions serve to both impart large measures of inspiration and intimidation…  I don’t think that anything I could produce could ever  look this amazing LOL.

Sorry if this post is rather photo heavy… there  were  twenty “stamps” featured in the quilt panel and they were all so amazing that I decided to include a close-up of each of them. I hope that you’ll agree that they are each worth their time in spotlight too.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 17, 2012

Native Trees and Flowers that Will Never Wilt…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are several quilts on beds on display at the Kauri Museum whilst we are visiting…  all of them striking but one in paticular catches my eye.

It features many flowers, including so very recognisable New Zealand Natives. The red one in the close up is the Kakabeak   (pronounced “Car car beak”)   and  close to it is a yellow flowered one ( it appears more creamy here  for some reason) the quintessential New Zealand flower: the Kowhai, (pronounced “coe  why”) which has a beautiful yellow flower, indeed the name Kowhai comes from the Maori word for “yellow”.

I love how these have all be put together with a dark background to set them off.. and on the edge of the quilt that covers the pillows is an amazing trailing ivy that details some stunning stitchcraft.

Although some of the quilts in the exhibition were for sale, sadly this one was not and I found myself being more than a little envious of the maker, family member or friend to whom this quilt would be returned to when it went “home”.  The fiber fanatics amongst you will understand and appreciate the time and workmanship that goes into these pieces … so let’s get close up and personal with a little more if it…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 16, 2012

Soft Fibers Mix with Hard Wood…

Filed under: Craft,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

We are lucky to be visiting the Kauri Museum in Northland, New Zealand,  in the very last days of  a quilt exhibition that is sharing the museum’s main hall space. Beds have been made up with quilts, quilts have been hung up for display so in effect we can enjoy several exhibitions for the price of one. Let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are various techniques on display… this one features Candlewicking (and detail)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…and here’s the diversity you get when different people put their own interpretion onto the same pattern…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Many of the quilts are hanging  in rows,  easier to see with your eyes than for the camera lens to capture… sorry for the odd angles, I did my best in the space available…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 2, 2011

Felt Christmas Ornament, the Kiwidutch Version…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s the beginning of December and for many western countries the shops have the  Christmas decorations out,  the background Carol music on and are cranking up their offerings of merchandise  to reap  the commercial benefits of the Christmas festive season.

I love the Christmas festivities too, but prefer to try and keep things  low key and true to the origonal spirit of  Christmas as much as possible by emphasising the value of gifts that are handmade with love, time and patience.

Tasks 11 and 12 on my “101 Tasks in 1001 Days”  project  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/about/101-things-in-1001-days/   are to make a handmade Christmas tree decoration for each of my two children, each year.

Many of my decorations in the past have been cross-stitched: https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/stitching-ornament-heirlooms-for-kids/ but I’ve been branching out into felt ornaments in the last year and fancied making something a bit different  than cross-stitch  ones for a change.

Then I stumbled on a craft post on the internet that got me thinking… Jessica Okui  at  http://zakkalife.blogspot.com/2009/11/craft-project-felt-christmas-ornament.html  made a beautiful Christmas decoration from felt, ones that echoes a design of  paper or card decoration designs I have seen around  for years.

I liked the idea of working it in felt, but there were a few points about Jessica’s version that I still felt I wanted to tweek for my version.

First I knew I wanted all the edges of my ornament  to be stitched. Secondly, I knew I  wanted to stitch the two pieces of felt next to each other that radiate directly from the top and bottom of the ornament instead of leaving them oen as they are in Jessica’s version.

Lastly, I wanted not just to stitch the  sections together with thread but also to add beads. Shiny, sparkly beads, to twinkle in the light of tree lights.

So… here is a Step-by-Step tutorial of  the Kiwidutch Modified Version of a Felt Christmas Ornament.

Materials:
– 6 circles cut from felt  (mine each measure 6-7 cm / 2 inches across).
– Beads of your choice
– Needle that will fit through your beads. (a sharp needle goes though the felt easier than a blunt one)
– Embroidery thread of the colour of your choice ( mine match either the bead or the felt or both)
– Thread in contrasting colour  (for basting)
–  Decorative cord or ribbon for hanging up your ornament (20-24 cm / 6-7 inches)

Method:
1) Cut six circles of  felt fabric in the colour of your choice. I die-cut mine but tracing around a small jar lid would work just as well.

2) Place two of the circles over each other and with a contrasting basting thread, make a loose line across it vertically and horizontally, effectively making your circle into quarters. Then, still with your basting thread, divide each quarter in half again so that you finish with two circles of felt sewn together, and marked out in eighths.( This sounds more complicated when it is, the photograph below with the white circles and blue thread should make it clear).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

3) At the top of one of the basting lines, and stitching through both layers of felt,  attach a bead then blanket stitch the two edges together until you reach the next basting line,  add another bead, blanket stitch to the next basting line and add the last bead.  You will now have three beads attached with blanket stitch joining the sections between them.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

4) Repeat step (3)  only  at the ends of a basting line with a bead on it.This will give you a circle with: bead-blanket stitch, bead-blanket stitch-bead, then a basting line with no stitching  or bead at either end, and then bead-blanket stitch, bead-blanket stitch-bead again. (Again, it sounds complicated when I describe it, but the photo will show  you how simple it is)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

5) Repeat this process with the other two felt circle pairs. Once they are all completed, fold your decorative ribbon (for hanging it up)  in half and secure it to one side of the middle layer, then line up the other two sets of  felt  on the outsides so that the beads match.

Hand-stitch from centre bead (top) to centre bead (bottom, through all six layers of felt. (Opps, I know the felt has changed colour, I forgot to photograph this step on the white one).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

6) Starting at one of the beads that is not on the centre line, blanket stitch only one layer of the two  along  the unstitched edge until you reach half-way along the circle,  take  the closest piece of  felt from the next felt circle pair and join them together with a bead. (look at the stitched and unstitched sections of  the centre of the ornament in the next photograph to make this clear).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The easiest way to stitch this is to make a zig-zag pattern all around one side of the ornament, joining all the centres in the middle until you get back to your starting point and then to turn the ornament around and blanket stitch the remaining unstitched edges in the same manner.

Voila! a beautiful hand-stitched Felt Christmas Tree Ornament, made with love and that will make your tree sparkle for years (and even generations)  to come.

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that in the red ornament photo above, there are eight circles of felt (4 doubles together) and not three, as in the white.   The  red and yellow ornaments were experients where I used eight circles of felt  (4 doubles together).  Whilst I first thought that eight would be better than six, the finished  product is I think actually too “squished” in appearance. If you pull one side to make it look right it immediately squishes up on the other side.

To the other extreme the even bigger white ornament was made with 24 circles:  twelve “doubles”and I quickly saw that it looks very cramped indeed. I also used white beads on that one and they hardly show up or sparkle at all (at least in comparison to the dark glossy beads I used for the others).

This means that six circles of felt (3 doubles) appears in my opinion to work best and these are my new Christmas favourites!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 9, 2011

Problem? Hmm… I know! Pass me a Blowtorch!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

…In a continuation from yesterday’s post I’m looking at the ancient craft of glass blowing and made a photographic journal of the transformation that the glass pieces have undergone during our visit to the  Glass Studio in Leerdam.

Glass blowers use a special stool that looks like a workbench with long arm rests, sitting on the stool the glass blower can simultaneously roll the glass with one hand and form it with the other. Whilst rolling the glass on the pipe on the arm rests, the glass blower shapes it with wet paper and a block of wet wood, holding them against the glass as he rolls.

Since the paper and the block constantly moisten each other they don’t stick to the glass,  therefore the glass blower always has a bucket of water at his side.

As long as the glass is hot the glass blower can manipulate it as he wants,  it can be pricked to make openings or closures, groves can be made and pieces can be added or cut off. This is all done with various pincers and scissors.

Because glass hardens as it cools down, it is regularly placed in a warming kiln whilst it is being worked to keep the glass soft enough to work with so the glass blower can continue working on the piece.

We notice that one of the handles doesn’t attach very straight on the body of the vase,  so the man holds  the pipe whilst the woman blasts it with a blowtorch, this makes the area of the glass they want to correct soft enough so that they can straighten out the wobble,  and mission accomplished they go on to finish the piece.

Once the glass blower has finished working the piece it isn’t  the end of the process. The temperature of the glass will still be around 600 C (1112 F)  so the blower  “taps” the object off the pipe with a large fork and transfers it to a “cooling”  kiln where the temperature has been set also at 600 C  to keep the finished temperature of the glass stable.

The kiln stays at this temperature during the working day so that the day’s production can be added to it as the pieces are completed and then at the end of the day when the  blowers have finished, the kiln is locked and the cooling process begins.  The kiln reduces in temperature very slowly  until it reaches 20 C  (68 F) and the pieces can be removed.

Thin pieces of glass need at least overnight to cool. This allows  the glass molecules to settle and if it were not done the glass would crack or explode.  The thicker the glass the longer it takes to cool down so there are two cooling kilns in the glass studio, one for thick pieces and one for the thinner ones.

The process is fascinating and I could sit for hours watching the creation of these fiery molten forms into beautiful glass pieces.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


November 8, 2011

Put THAT on your Pipe and Blow It!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I tried to look up some information on the history and process of glass blowing  as we would see at Leerdam but the website is not incredibly informative. Fortunately I’d picked up a  free information sheet during our visit, so these facts come from that,  and from the commentary given whilst we were there.

There is an overhead video screen that shows parts of the process, (like the “tapping off” of the glass at the end from the pipe at the end of the process), but since we are on the very front row of the tiered seats I literally have ring-side view.

Leerdam is regarded as the centre of the Dutch Glass industry and is sometimes called the Netherlands Glass City.

Leerdam’s first glass factory was founded in 1765 and glass was made manually. Today glass is made using computer controlled equipment but professional  glass blowers have not completely disappeared from the scene. At Royal Leerdam Crystal, glass objects are still manufactured using traditional methods to this day and here at the Glass Studio it’s possible to see first hand how this traditional craft is practised.

Experienced Masters and young ambitious glass blowers practice their craft in teams. Glass blowers come from around the world to study techniques at Leerdam and they can assist each other even when they don’t  speak the same languages because  basic glass blowing techniques are the same world wide.

Vocational training takes four years on average, and upon completion of this training the trainee becomes an “Assistant”. Depending on talent, becoming a fully trained glass blower then takes several years more. Only then, finially,  will they have earned the title of Master glass blower.

Glass is made from sand, soda and lime. When mixed together  it’s called “the blend” and is placed in a melting crucible which consists of a small pot in the centre of a stone melting kiln. Temperatures in the kiln are kept at 1500  C  (2732  F) to melt the blend and once it turns into molten glass the temperature is reduced to 1150 C  (2102 F) to keep the glass fluid and ready for use.

The steel blowing pipe is roughly 140cm long and is used to take the molten glass out of the melting crucible. The glass blower inserts te pipe several times into the molten mass, adding layers of glass to the mass to achieve the amount of glass they need. When making large pieces, the  molten glass on the pipe can weigh up to 10 kg.

Once the desired amount of glass is on the pipe, the glass blower blows air into the hollow centre of it resulting  in a round form that is the starting point of the object being made.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Phew, it’s certainly warm in here… more on hot glass blowers tomorrow…

 

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