Scholarship allows graduate to learn Venetian art glass techniques

Calum Dawes

Calum Dawes

The Mike Davies Innovation Scholarship allowed BA Glass & Ceramics graduate Calum Dawes to attend a one-week course at the Pittsburgh Glass Center in Pennsylvania, USA.

This intensive summer course entitled ‘Enamel your glass creations’ was taught by French artist Mathieu Grodet, whose work revolves around historical venetian forms as well as bold pure colour pieces made using the ‘roll-up’ technique and particular kind of glass which is soft and has vibrant colour called Effetre.

Calum said: “Pittsburgh Glass Center itself is amazing, the facilities are incredibly well equipped, with equipment enough for eight benches to be making simultaneously. Very advanced, high quality equipment and a lovely space to work in.

“Mathiu made a traditional venetian goblet of the sort that would often be enamelled or gilded. He provided some context as to why the use of the technique is historically quite limited. Broadly speaking, cost.

“The most intricate being so labour intensive that only royalty could afford it and the work meant for the wider market unfortunately limited by cost concerns. We talked about how this history allows you to engage with associated concepts and expectations about the disciplines use, his own work often drawing parallels between the historic ruling class and modern capitalist elite.

“This was all extremely interesting and this sort of insight into an artist practice which you admire is the reason to come to masterclasses in the first place.”

The rest of the week they focused on practical aspects regarding testing, grinding and mixing various types of enamels.

Calum added: “This was the first time I have had the chance to see a lot of these techniques in person and work with a group of people who were trained in another country.

“We were warned that as enamelling is a very slow process with lots of equipment, climate and material-based variables, and that it would be unlikely that we would produce many completed enamelled pieces in the week.

“With this in mind I chose to focus on the information required to explore it further at home more comprehensively: testing, colour mixing and troubleshooting especially as I had not been able to ask about this previously. I also took the opportunity to make glass in a wonderful studio with very keen likeminded people focussing on more Italian/American techniques. Ones which I have not had as much contact with at home.”

The 25-year-old concluded: “I was extremely fortunate to be awarded the Mike Davies Innovation Scholarship in order to attend this course. It was an invaluable experience, particularly as the class coincided with me graduating from my BA in Glass & Ceramics and has helped me to develop ideas for new work going forward from university and into the early stage of my career.”

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