• Glass

    • (0) Comments by julian 5 June 2011

    Following a tip-off from someone who recorded some archive material which will be later heard through the foghorn, I went to Black lake to investigate a glass dump.  Some of the pieces were remarkably beautiful, heavy and showing lines of flow, with sharp edges, but as one of our glass-holders here said, ‘they are so beautiful to hold, so tactile’.  Heavy too.

    There was a really touching moment at this weekend’s workshop, when these two ladies found the names of their ancestors in the Chance Brothers wage lists from 1st December 1842.  Listen out for them reading the information over the foghorn.


  • Glass and iron

    • (1) Comment by julian 29 May 2011

    While walking along the canal to photograph Galton Bridge, just across from the Chance Brothers site, I came across a scattering of stones, of a sort I’ve seen before in a number of places, mostly archaeological iron-working areas.  I’ve always previously thought they were reject glass, a kind of glass-slag.

    After cleaning a few and doing some basic-level research I find they are what is known as either slag-glass or agate-glass.  The material is a combination of  the minerals cryolite and manganese and, what is probably the main material here,  iron ore slag, ground to a powder, which produces a colourful vitreous material, which clearly shows its flow paths, bubbles, and areas where it has come into contact with other materials.  The addition of other minerals brings other colours.  During the early twentieth century a similar-looking kind of glass was made into lampshades, bowls and vases, and some jewellery, mostly in the north-east of England and in the US.  The material used in this case is also known as slag-glass or agate-glass and comes in a variety of colours; look it up on ebay, and you’ll see the range of products made from it.  Check out  Tiffany lampshades which used it a lot.  In a way the organic flow shapes are equally attractive; they remind me of lava flows, and tectites, the vitrified tear-shaped bombs produced by meteorite impacts.

    So, what to do with this wonderful stuff?   I propose to lead an expedition next Friday (3rd June) to collect some more, and to spend some of the Saturday session photographing it, to be made up either into a little book, or a small photographic exhibition, or both.  I had also thought about the possibility of a local glass-worker making something with it – maybe panels, plates, windows, bowls – but Peter Knowles reckons that it would need a melt temperature of between 1200 and 1500 degrees centigrade.    A more viable path would be carving it – again I’ve found some examples of this on the internet; but there is the danger of its shattering.  Experiments will show what happens.

  • Engraving

    • (0) Comments by julian 23 May 2011

    The workshop at Smethwick on Saturday 20th May attracted a few new faces.  We did some more recording and had a first go at engraving on glass and metal.  It’s a fairly straightforward process, but naturally difficult at first – the power engraver is a little alarming at first, and the micro drill tends to wander to the right as you are making marks.  So I think the first attempts were entirely creditable.

    Workshop photograph by Norman Bloomer, former F H Lloyd employee and table tennis champion

  • Interviews with Voice 21

    • (0) Comments by Katie Shipley 13 May 2011

    On 30th April a few of the Voice 21 young people and I went along to the F.H.Loyd reunion event at Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery. There were lots of people there with plenty of stories to tell so, armed with recorders and cameras, the young people went out into the crowds to interview the people there. We came back with lots of interesting stories and recordings that will be included in the exhibition in August:

    Last week I met up with Chloe from Multistory and Jo Loki a curator, Jo is going to help organise the exhibition at Haden Hill House Museum. It was great to hear some of the ideas that she has and I can’t wait to see the exhibition.

  • Voice21 Photoshopping

    • (0) Comments by Katie Shipley 14 April 2011

    I went back to Coneygre yesterday to look at editing some of the video footage and photographs that we have taken through the project. I did a quick demo of iMovie and Photoshop for the group then let them loose on the imagery. The group seemed a bit more interested in the photo editing than the video editing and below are a couple of examples of what we got up to.

    The next session will be in preparation for our long awaited interview session taking place at Wednesbury Museum & Art Gallery on 30th April.

  • Engravings on glass and metal

    • (0) Comments by julian 7 April 2011

    One of the areas of interest for me is that when an industry closes, or a new technology replaces old methods of operating, what gets lost as part of the cultures of making is the language of making.  As soon as I started looking at the census returns and the correspondence from 100 years ago I found there was a whole vocabulary that was completely new to me, an archaeology of words that will be merely preserved on paper and website when the generation that last performed these actions is no longer around.

    One way of making these more real could be to engrave the words on the scrap of the industries.  It’s not difficult – all you need is a drill with diamond bits (very cheap actually, though it sounds expensive), eye-protection and a mask, a steady hand and a magnifying glass or, in my case, desperately short sight (there had to be an advantage eventually).

    First results:

    I’ll set up a workshop for people to have a go at this, if anyone would like to have a go.  Let me know.

  • Voice 21 Oil Painting

    • (0) Comments by Katie Shipley 31 March 2011

    Through the art workshops with the Voice 21 group we are developing a collection of artwork that will be exhibited alongside videos and photographs as part of the Sandwell Arts Festival 2011. We have been told that the exhibition will be at: Haden Hill House Museum.

    This week’s workshop was, as requested, Oil Painting.

    The group seemed to really enjoy experimenting with the different techniques that oil paint allows and they came up with some interesting paintings:

    You can really see how some of the paintings were inspired by our trip to Mushroom Green Chain Workshop.

  • Re-designing a Chance Brothers foghorn

    • (1) Comment by julian 23 March 2011

    Well, the drawing may look straightforward, but it took four of us two and a half hours of folding, sticking, calculating, checking and rechecking, undoing, cutting up and resticking, to get a reasonably secure idea of how we might construct a foghorn that was originally about 4 1/2 metres long (about 15 feet) and 2.7 metres high (9 feet).

    A reminder of the original:

    Meantime, going to conservation in order to be shown in the Manor House, are some beautiful drawings, paintings and notes on the pumps made for the Great Eastern, with letters from the Chief Engineer reporting on how they performed on the ship’s maiden voyage.  Note the delicacy of the shading, which succinctly indicates the form of the pipes and pistons.  An absolute treasure:

  • Photoshopping

    • (0) Comments by Katie Shipley 23 March 2011

    I went back to the YMCA for one last visit today. Picked up some pieces from the metalbashing workshop for the exhibition and had a go at some photoshopping with Stevie.

    Here are a few of the images that Stevie magicked up! I learnt a thing or two today…

  • YMCA 2nd Blacksmith Visit

    • (0) Comments by Katie Shipley 17 March 2011

    By popular demand we went back to see Ian at his Blacksmith’s workshop in Cradley Heath. It turned out to be a completely different group so it was another great first introduction to what a Blacksmith does. Everyone got to have a go and again loads of pictures were taken:

    As this was the last session with the group Chloe had some specific questions for the group. We asked them:

    What was your favorite part of the project?

    ‘Black Country Living Museum’ x 5

    ‘The mines.’

    ‘Everything – the opportunity to take part was amazing!’

    ‘Going to the Blacksmith’s’ x 2

    Would you go back to any of the places we have visited?

    ‘Black Country Living Museum’ x 2

    ‘Yes’ x 3

    ‘Yes all of them.’

    ‘Yes all of them were very interesting and educating.’

    ‘Smedrock Library.’

    I really enjoyed working with the group and am planning a photoshop session with one of them to create some work for the exhibition in the summer.