' Gorwelion Annwyl' (Beloved Horizons) 2020
Scroll down for photos and video footage of the making process
Photography by Simon Bruntnell
Late 2019 I was thrilled to be commissioned to design and create a piece to mark the momentous occasion of Geldards LLP (a Cardiff based Law firm) move to their new home in the exciting Capital Quarter of Cardiff.
Familiarity with the surroundings of home can mean that we stop seeing their beauty and potential. Our youthful ambition is to leave home and travel to find new horizons that we believe will enable s to realise our aspirations and dreams.
But when we stop to look out at the beauty of Cardiff and the vibrancy of the City, combined with the glorious scenery synonymous with Wales, we cannot help but feel inspired by the horizons we can see from our doorstep.
This piece. therefore, reflects heritage, pride and the promise represented by our own beloved horizons. The pillar-like forms and shapes echo the vibrant architecture of the City skyline and Cardiff Bay. The colours reflect the beauty and allure of the bay and horizons beyond. The water and bronze hood of the majestic Wales Millenium Centre are reflected in the warm, comforting glow of the steel blue and aurora yellow glass - a glowing feeling I hope that everyone gets when thinking of the place where they grew up.
This work is intended to commemorate the beauty of our country, the Bay and the City of Cardiff.
To start the project off, I took a couple of trips to Cardiff Bay to take some photographs of the buildings and monuments in the Bay that have most impressed me over the life I have spent in Cardiff.
I was particularly inspired by the colours of the water, the Wales Millenium Centre and Pierhead Building. I was also inspired by the pillars of the oval basin and the many tall impressive buildings surrounding the bay.
After looking through this research, I made some sketches and came up with the concept and design for the piece.
Initial Maquettes and Colour Testing
I decided that the next step was to create 3-dimensional cardboard models to get an idea of scale and how much glass colour and glass weight I as going to need. Once I had figured this out I was then able to test and choose the colours I wanted to use and get them ordered.
The next stage was to figure out how to make moulds in the correct form to blow the glass into.
My initial attempt failed and the plaster moulds I had created fell to pieces once I blew into them for the first time. Like all crafts, it doesn't always go the way you want and problems can occur. After going back to the drawing board I came up with a new design of wooden moulds which was successful, enabling me to continue to progress the project.
In the Hotshop
So the fun begins! Above is a small selection of videos of my assistant Ryan Ashcroft and I blowing the pieces in the hotshop. Glassblowing is intense and expensive work so therefore requires a lot of planning, preparation and concentration to avoid unwanted mistakes and wasting energy, money and time.
Once I had made these pieces hot, they are put into an annealing kiln (at about 500-600 degree celsius) and are brought down slowly to room temperature overnight ready for me to retrieve, once cold, the following morning.
In the Cold Shop
The time spent creating in the hot shop can sometimes be a relatively small part of the process when it comes to creating blown glass art. Once the piece has been made artists often use cold-working techniques to create finishes and pattern additions resulting in more complex designs.
Although my true passion lies in creating glass pieces hot, I also enjoy using cold working techniques and tools to enhance elements of my designs.
I decided to use a technique called 'Battuto' to decorate a number of the 'pillars'. This technique requires the use of a diamond wheel on a lathe to create repetitive, overlapping cuts that cover a surface of the glass. The end result is a beautifully textured surface that creates aesthetic optical qualities.
The Final Stages
Once the final touches had been added to the glass, I had to then order a bespoke plinth with built-in lights to light up certain elements of the display and get it delivered to the offices.
The final stage was to pack and transport the glass to the offices and display it at its best. I felt very happy to have completed such a large and complicated commission and was very proud to have a piece on display in offices in Cardiff, where I grew up.
Professional photographs of the work were taken and you can find information and articles about the work in the following places:
Page 53 of issue 230 in Cardiff Life magazine
(click image below to be taken to article)
The 'Insider - Media Limited' printed an article about Geldards' office move and the glass piece of mine they commissioned as well as The British Glass Foundation printing an article about the piece in their magazine 'Craft Cuts' which I have put below.