Sunday, October 30, 2011

"No, Watson, this was not done by accident, but by design." ~ Sherlock Holmes

The last few days have been the days of the designers... They are EVERYWHERE! 

Almost all of the designers for Kosta Boda/Orrefors came to the factory on Thursday for a sort of workshop to see what could be made in Orrefors.  What the machines do, how the factory is set up and etc.  The cool thing was that all of the designers (many of which are trained glass blowers) were wandering around the factory along with Team 12 (the group of blowers from Kosta who work on the art glass stuff) and the Orrefors masters!  Lots of people and lots of activity :)

Designers talking to the Orrefors masters:
 Kosta masters and Goran Warff:
 Designers looking at the centrifuged glass.
 and a big ole mix of Orrefors and Kosta! 
 This is Göran Wärff who is one of my designer favorites. 
 And my other favorite is Ingegerd Råmen... and she signed MY BOOK!!!
 Vegard and I talked to her for a minute and said how much we like her work and she seemed genuinely pleased to hear it.  She liked that her work could be enjoyed across the generations, which is what is so nice about her sort of timeless pieces!  

Papa arrived on Friday!!! Very exciting!  We walked around, ate pastries... and he went to bed early.  Saturday we wandered around Orrefors, looked at the factory, the town, the hotel and finally went to the Krystall Shop! While there they had crystal on sale for 50 (yes, FIFTY) percent off!!! So, I got this huge vase and had it shipped to America... I also got some books! One on Orrefors, even in English, because I need more books...
 On Sunday we went to Kalmar to visit the castle and see the city.  The last of the leaves are changing here and dropping fast in golden piles all over the place... so pretty and surreal.
 It was the first time I have actually been INSIDE the castle!  There was some beautiful paintings and really amazing wood inlay:
 How could they do this in 1500-something?
 Every wooden surface in some of the rooms were covered in inlay... so amazing!
 And here is the table all set for dinner.
 Papa goes "do you think if I sit in that chair and you take a picture we will get in trouble?" where the place setting clearly says King somebody or other.  Haha.
 More inlay, weird relief paintings and the King's hidden, personal toilet were in this room.
 The chapel with a painted ceiling.
 With some very fancy chandeliers:
Also, funnily enough, the mistress's chamber was a tiny, hidden room just off the main reception area for the king... such a cliche and funny at the same time!

 It was a nice day to be inside the castle... it was so foggy you can't even see Kalmar behind the castle!
 Here is looking across the moat back at the graveyard and the street.
 In the graveyard the leaves hadn't been disturbed and it looked really amazing.
 Then we went to Öland to the VIDA museum.
 It has works from Ulrica Hydman Vallien who does everything from fabric to ceramics to glass design.

 And some super modern paintings, I don't know who they are by but they are huge! That is Papa standing in the background.
 I have mixed feelings on the super modern paintings... they are just blocks of colors and dots or lines, but they are also kind of cool... but I am not going to have one in my house...
 And the most exciting of it all was the Bertil Vallien exhibit!
 He is famous for doing sand casting with glass which inspired us to try it this week too!
 Really amazing things and a cool display of his full range of stuff from beginning glass design to the current things he is doing like the boats or these faces.

So, in general the past few days are full of being surrounded by designers, looking at their stuff and reading tons of books and talking glass with Papa none stop! I have full plans to completely overload him with glass and by the time he goes home he is ready for a relief from all the glass! I think it will take some work...

Tomorrow is our first day of school! Wish us luck :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana." - Groucho Marx

So, my life has been dominated mainly by wineglasses... sadly not enough of them are full of wine haha.  We have been making them for two weeks now! They are getting better, but our expectations are getting higher which is not helping the amount being produced.

I have no idea what day these are from but here are some glasses from the end of last week I think:
 I never seem to make two the same size!
 And, they are all differently shaped... Vegard's are all almost the same! I don't know how he does it but I am jealous because his don't look like this!
 Here is a close up of my first goblet! It stands... and is HUGE! I make a fist around the stem part! It is a free blown glass, avolio, blown stem, avolio and then a blown stem.
 This is Ake's... MUCH better!
 Saturday I ended up going to the glass museum in Växjö.  There we met Astrid Gate (Simon Gate's, the inventor of graal, great great grandaughter) and saw some of here cool graals.
 It is three layers of graal, worked over and over again finally blown up by Micke Johansson.  She also did the engraving on this guy:

Also, there was this station where you made a sculpture from pieces of old glass...
 And then this lovely woman told a story inspired by the sculpture! She was a professional story teller and told the sweetest, funniest stories ever!
 This is Mad's called The Power of Woman
 This is Björn's called Indiska (Indian) Beach Burden.
 And mine called Stratosphere... there is goat and a gold fish on it at the bottom.  I will take more pictures when we get them back from the museum.  They are going to keep them for a while on display.
 There was also an exhibition of Functional Glass on display.  It was really neat (I got a book about it) and I remember some of the pieces from seeing my Grandmother here in Sweden having them.
 Also, and what we thought would be the most exciting was the talk to be made by Ludvig Löfgren who makes all the skulls and crazy stuff like that at Kosta.
 He gave a talk, which I couldn't understand at all (but was apparently pretty boring) about what inspires him and some of his works.
Then he showed a ton of pictures of making this car! It is a custom built car with a bunch of glass in it.  Pretty cool, but tiny I think.  There is glass in the grill, steering wheel, gas petal, gear shift, gas tank and part of the engine! Pretty cool, I want to see the car in real life!  Anyway, the video is not boring so you should watch it!

Then this week at school has been more wine glasses! 
 And another really bad goblet, but I am getting better at remembering all the steps and messing up less of them each time... so that is progress, sort of.
 It has been a rough week, the strain of a long distance relationship has been felt by both Sam and I.  Don't worry, we are OK and going strong still, just a bump along the way.  It is typical that we should struggle when the end of the long distance is so near! But, the theory that blowing glass sucks when your love life sucks held true this week.  But, today, Thursday all is well again and glass went great!

But, I made these on Monday with Vegard.  I am making him make flowers! Mwhahaha... he hates things like glass flowers, or fruit or pointless things.  So, now he has to make flowers for my wine glasses! Maybe I will make some that have an apple as the stem next! hahahaha. 
 They are not great, but they are flowers, so I think they have some potential.
I think I could do some different spin offs with green stems like stalks and leaves... we will see!

 And here are some wineglasses on parade! I had to clean out the trolleys that bring the glass down from the factory to the school of the things I want to keep... so here is a small pile of glasses.

Also, a random bit of information... In the house I live in you can rent a room for the night or weekend.  This weekend the house was rented by tons of people with dogs. I assumed they were sheep herding dogs, there is a competition here sometimes, but NO! They were sled pulling dogs! The Swedish Championship was being held somewhere near by! And my neighbors were the 3rd fastest dogs in ALL of Sweden! They were adorable "polar dogs" who normally race in the snow... also known as Siberian Huskies (but these were smaller then the ones I am used to).  AND, yes AND... One of them was related to the famous Balto! Kind of cool!

Also, this nice article was recently in the Washington Times with some really nice photos of The Glass Kingdom and a nice article about how spectacular it is here in general... you should check it out!

Friday, October 21, 2011

“A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine, except that on a day without sunshine you can still get drunk.” ~ Lee Entrekin quotes

Wine glasses.... are a girl's best friend... oh wait, I think that is daimonds...

I believe they may be equally as hard to create... sure, one takes millions of years, tons of pressure and heat and the other takes your whole life, lost of pressure on yourself and honestly a lot of heat... Pretty similar I would say!

Here are my glasses from Monday:
 And Tuesday:
 Yes, both days I only managed to make two that are worth while... I SAID THEY WERE DIFFICULT!

Here is me making some today... Thank Vegard for the photos... I think he was bored.
 First you blow the bubble as above.
 Then cut in a neck (which will later be the top of the cup).
 Then your assistant gives you a stem bit and you pull it into the fancy shape you want... here it is straight, which may seem simple but it is tricky... "very ticksy my precious" haha!
 Then you put on a foot, punty it and open up the other end! 
 This is one I nearly finished but dropped on the ground instead.  It was standing on it's foot but that exploded and it stayed standing! Like magic!! I was very upset when Vegard accidentally knocked it over later and he told me that maybe it isn't very healthy to be upset about breaking an already broken glass... but it was standing by MAGIC!!!

After lunch I tried to make these gems! That is a cup (blown Italian style which I am not going to explain), a knob, a blown stem (hollow), another knob, then a blown stem!  Easy-peasy!
 Here is the teacher applying the blown stem... nice and straight!
 And here he is opening the glass up in the final steps!
 Here is my first attempt!  Looks pretty good huh!? That is because it is moving and you can't see how crooked it is! But, BUT!!! I made one on my first try!!!
 And here is attempt number two... I have blown the cup, put on the stem and am shaping the foot... 
 Looks good so far right?
Then it cracked! Oh well, such is life... But it was a ton of fun to do something different and hard but still a wineglass!  I think Vegard and I were both refreshed by a new challenge and new techniques to get thin and nice glasses.  I look forward to seeing our glasses tomorrow and blowing some more!