Whanganui is home to over 400 resident artists, and hosts over 15 galleries. Whanganui’s dynamic art scene includes photography, painting, pottery, sculptures, textiles and glass.
One of these outstanding contributors is glass artist David Traub.
I was quick to book in for a glass tutorial at his studio in King Street, called The Glass Factory.
I joined 6 other amateur artists for an instructed class where we used David’s off-cuts to create 2 bowls, magnets or broches and a glass tile.
Using frits we created our design on flat glass disks, which later David slumped over stainless steel bowls, coated in shelf wash.
The kiln is fired over night and your completed masterpieces are packaged and posted home, for you to admire and treasure.
The tile was an interesting activity utilising chunky glass fragments from previous works. We could cut the glass to our desired size and used a metal mallet to crush and sieve pieces to suit. We lined metal moulds with fibre paper and set to work.
My tile was inspired by the Hen Island view we had from our old family beach house. I was really pleased with the result, and look forward to working with glass in the future.
So that our house functioned better for our rather large family, we decided to put a kitchen in our lounge (much to the disgust of an electrician who had come to quote the job)
The existing kitchen, complete with groovy Formica bench top and pale blue cupboards was located at the other end of the L shape building. This meant there was quite a hike from the dining table to the dishwasher.
We plumbed in the dishwasher and set up a trestle table as a make shift kitchen, while we went about searching for an affordable yet attractive kitset kitchen.
I stumbled upon Kitset Kitchen, a local kitchen manufacturer, who offer a huge range of cabinets, handles and bench tops. They can also install the kitset if required. The layout was easy to decide on, with plenty of options. The only down fall would be the sample size. When my bench arrived I was shocked to see white ‘quartz’ streaks through the grey laminate. These lines weren’t evident on the small card given to compare styles.
And a follow up call would have been nice.
The old kitchen was carpeted, painted and converted into our daughters bedroom and the old cabinets were moved out to the garage, creating a studio for all my creative efforts.
Years ago when I cast handmade moulds with concrete, I formed my first ‘couple’. I managed to reproduce 10 of these before the delicate mould was retired. Now, I find creating with clay and firing each original piece is much more satisfying. Each piece is completely different, some even take on a direction of their own. I enjoy this process and am always excited to see the end result, when they emerge from their final firing.
On my first attempt of my couple in clay I put a vinyl cone support under the man, thinking that the woman could be built around him, but as I created, she started to slump.
Instead of scrapping the work, I went with the clay and love the result.
You could view the piece as a man supporting a weak or sick woman, or of a woman buckling underneath the pressure of holding up and supporting the man.
With the second piece, I built a support using cut down containers held together with duct tape. I covered the containers with a bread bag for easy removal. This ensured the couple kept their form. The support pieces were removed on day 2.
Being an egg donor, I am sensitive to the struggle some couples go through to be blessed with a child. I created a baby to fit in the couples arm, making the piece complete. While the piece was drying my three-year old daughter kept putting the baby back into the couples arms, when I would have it sitting next to the piece. I loved that she always wanted the baby with its parents, and not on its own on the shelf.
The piece turned out to be an interactive one. It’s surprising how the physical act of putting the baby in its place makes you feel good.
I sponged a black slip onto both pieces.
Unfortunately the glossy glaze did not give me the desired look. Perhaps they will find a home with someone. Thankfully art appeals to an array of people. I would have preferred a matt finish and will be purchasing my own glazes for future use, and applying a thicker slip.
Live and learn.
I will definitely be making more of these little guys. I made them for personal Christmas gifts but had a few requests for some! A cool scale roller and hand cut fish shapes. I leaned them up on a cardboard tube cut in half to give the fish a slight curve. I experimented with what ever shades of blue the Clay Shed had. Simple and sweet.
The dreaded school holidays arrived, and to keep me sane I made sure that I had a sack of clay at my ready. I had a few ideas of what I wanted to try; some mermaids, fish and this awesome shark I’d seen online, as an award for design. I attempted my first dolphin, of which I hope to create more of, promoting an awareness of the endangered maui dolphin, which occasionally frequents the waters of New Zealand’s West Coast. These pieces would allow me to explore with some colour in the form of slips.
I also had some more meaningful pieces I want to get out; the first being a figure of a woman represented as a bowling pin. A woman who is continuously, repetitively knocked down, and yet gets back up again, all to be knocked down again. Symbolising abuse.
The second brings awareness to breast cancer. A beautiful curvaceous woman, proud of her battle wound, having had a breast removed.
Well after messing up my first two pieces, getting carried away with slips and glazes I had a bit of slip fun with the mermaids and fish, and got a wee bit arty with my ladies.
I love the red stripes, making the bowling pin imagery more obvious.
I’m not fond of glossy glazes so left my survivor lady without a glaze. A double firing of white slip.
Unfortunately the bowling pin lady must have touched something black while in the kiln, which has left a smudge on her back. The breast cancer survivor had a fleck of black glaze on her boob, which I could easily sand off with my rotary tool. I’m yet to seal her, as she has no glaze to protect her.
What do you think?
Dabbling with concrete and moulds yet again, I’m now creating letters and numbers!
The letters look great painted up and displayed on a shelf, and the numbers make a striking address id, either propped up in the garden or mounted on a wall!
Awesome for those holiday homes, where there isn’t a need for a letterbox!
Thankfully my family consumes a lot of margarine and Aunt Betty puddings, as these containers make for the perfect moulds for my concrete candles!
Using a 1:2 mix of cement and sand and just the right amount of water, I create awesome little concrete bowls for planting up with succulents, cacti and orchids. Now that I have found the joy of candle making, I have been filling them with scented soy wax too!
What I found was interesting is that you need the right wick for the diameter of the bowl, so that it creates the maximum sized melted wax pool!
There’s all sorts of shapes, heights and thickness to experiment with. I even poured the wax into some drinking glasses, and once cool the wax candle just slid right out.
The wax I use is soft, and can also be used for creating melts to use in a tea light burner.
Simple, natural, handmade in New Zealand, unlike those crude oil paraffin based ones that can only be used in a specific electric warmer. And instead of cleaning out the wax once the scent has evaporated, simply purchase your own scent to add to it!
I love getting my kids involved with any of my Lulus Lists ventures, and put them to work constructing the boxes for packaging, giving them a brief lecture on child labour, how some countries can produce products for cheap by exploiting their staff and why we should encourage people to buy New Zealand handmade goods! ; )