A new kiln at King’s has former Year 13 student Victoria Kerr (Middlemore) from Whangarei creating glasswork that astounds visitors popping in to the King’s Technology Department in the Kelley Centre.
Kerr also recently had her glass fusing masterpiece, entitled Fleur de Lumière displayed at the King’s College Art Sale.
“I took an interest in glass fusing, because it was so different to anything else I’ve ever done,” explains Kerr.
“It’s an artistic way of working, but it’s also very functional – you can create all sorts of beautiful but also useful pieces!”
Glass fusing is the technique used to join glass pieces together by partly melting the glass at high temperature. The fusion process requires multiple pieces of glass, with a minimum of two. The heating is commonly undertaken in an electric kiln. Instead of fitting glass together using a lead solder, two or more pieces of glass are laid on top
of or overlapped on each other and are fired at temperatures ranging from 750 to 850 degrees Celsius.
Kerr is thinking of studying Industrial Design at Victoria University, or, at the other end
of the spectrum, Pharmacology at the University of Otago.
Her advice to students considering taking up, or enrolled in Design Innovation at King’s is to make sure they’re thinking outside the box.
“Think interesting – when you are designing something, think of something, anything, that interests you and figure out how you’re going to create it using the techniques the Design Innovation course teaches you.”
“My first Design Innovation class at King’s saw me experiment with recycled glass – cutting the bottles by twisting. It was hard – the co-efficiencies of the glass didn’t always work, so it was a good trial and error project!”
The lotus-inspired piece is her biggest and best piece yet, and Kerr is looking at creating some smaller individual pieces based o the main piece. The product took more than 60 hours of work, including firing, to get to the final product outcome.
“I’d like to thank Ms Brown, Mr Foxall and Mr Burton for their assistance in helping me bring this piece to life,” says Kerr.
Teaching backed by creative experience
Megan Brown has been working as a Technology Technician at King’s College since January 2014. Her passion is glass fusing, and she is largely self-taught.
A visit to Brown’s office opens one’s eyes to the many pieces, large and small, that she has created over her six years of experimenting with this form of glass manipulation.
“Working with glass is my passion,” says Brown. “I love trying out different methods and seeing what works.”
‘Gravity drop’ is Brown’s favourite style of glass fusing. “Showing movement is key, and the interesting thing is that there’s no way of knowing what the finished product is going to look like.”
Brown explains how different pieces have a specific formula for success. It’s about experimenting with different shapes and sizes – bowls, plates, vases, even chandeliers!
– and seeing what temperatures or types of glass work best in each scenario.
“That’s all part of the fun – firing up the kiln, and seeing what comes out after a set timeframe. Some pieces can take 24 hours to set, some can take many more!” Her advice to students is simple: “Start with something small, and then get bigger. Don’t be scared to experiment, and don’t get disappointed when something doesn’t turn out the way you had originally envisioned.”
Having access to a kiln is obviously key.
“We are so lucky to have had a brand new, and bigger, kiln, donated to us by the Friends Association. Our students have been able to produce some wonderful pieces from it,” says Brown.
“We are also thankful to Sauvarins Glass who supply us with the glass to use in our workshops.”