I was delighted by the opportunity to attend a ten-day workshop at North Lands Creative this Autumn, “Into the Light” with Bruno Romanelli, thanks to a generous scholarship from Bullseye Glass Co.
As any artist working with cast glass will know, this is a process that requires precision and a lot of patience. A high degree of care must go into preparing waxes and moulds before the glass can go into a kiln, and then the firing schedule is a crucial recipe for the pieces to emerge as planned. There are few better examples of kiln casting for glass sculpture than in the work of Bruno Romanelli, and it was enlightening to see him demonstrate aspects of the process that he has honed over many years.
The workshop began with a few excursions into the beautiful landscape surrounding North Lands, from which the class took inspiration for creating a series of cast glass pieces. I was enchanted by the misty waves breaking on the shore of the rocky northeast Scottish coast, and attempted to capture that essence in my work. Unfortunately, the first piece I put into the kiln did not survive as expected. Due to a tricky shift in its shape, the wave-like form cracked in two. This was a lesson in “rolling with the punches” that working with glass so often teaches. Rather than taking it as a disappointment, it became an opportunity to appreciate the added dimension in the piece given by the way it had fractured.
Patience doesn’t always come easily for me, therefore much of the appeal of coming to North Lands was to slow down and escape into another world- far from the often-stressful pace of London where I am currently working and studying. The experience made me realise how my artistic practice could benefit from a more considered or “polished” approach- both figuratively and literally. Each minute that is absorbed by the moulding, firing, and then polishing process of glass- from the coarsest to the finest grit- eventually proves worthwhile. Paying closer attention to the details and giving each step of the process the time that it requires is essential and rewarding.
A highlight of my time at North Lands was getting to know my fellow classmates and the workshop instructors and staff. Everyone arrived with different backgrounds and previous experiences, so it was great to hear the variety of perspectives and compare each person’s approach to working with glass, thanks to the evening talks that were organised for us to share with each other. In addition, the delicious meals we had at the local Whaligoe Steps Café were always a treat.
There was so much to absorb over these ten days at North Lands that I will continue to reflect on. I look forward to applying the insights I have gained about craftsmanship and perseverance to future projects, as they apply to kiln-casting glass and also translate into other techniques.
By Gosia Pawlowska
October 13, 2019