2013 Kulturbrücke/ 2013 Culture Bridge

Glass art for the homeThe Culture Bridge, Fratres is a cultural platform that was founded in 1995 after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The organisation is dedicated to overcoming cultural barriers and is made up of two pillars: On the Austrian side of the border is the Museum Humanum Fratres, located in the northernmost part of the Waldviertel, and on the Czech side is The Gallery House in Slavonice (Zlabings). Kulturbrücke offers creators and visitors a politically independent forum. Led by enthusiastic volunteers, the aim is to revive, through numerous high-profile events, the culturally desolate border region and to set into motion a sustainable process of cultural exchange beyond Europe.

The club puts on numerous events to strengthen regional identity, to advance European cultural understanding, and lead to an intercultural dialogue beyond Europe. These events regularly culminate in joint musical performances, exhibitions, readings, and discussions with Austrian and Czech intellectual leaders.

For the full line up of the 2013 Kulturbrücke, please visit their website, or download the brochure.

Don’t forget, ‘The Year of the Woman’ solo show by Criss Chaney, opens August 24th at 3pm. At Museum Humanum, Fratres 11, A-3844 Waldkirchen/Thaya, Austria. For more information please email criss@crisschaney.com.


The Big Picture, Community Artwork for Sunderland

The Big Picture, in the kilnFor the past couple months I have been collaborating with two other local artists from other disciplines to create, a piece of community artwork.

From 3rd October 2011 until the 16th October 2011 Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens will play host to one of Sunderland’s largest collaborative pieces of artwork. The Big Picture project was specifically developed to encourage
as many people as possible to create artwork in a similar theme to show the massive variety of responses individuals can have.

Three local artists from very different disciplines Criss Chaney an American glass artist based in Sunderland, Liz Shaw a ceramicist and entrepreneur, and Jo Howell fine artist owner of Maverickart, stopped around 150 people on a busy
Friday in the Bridges shopping centre in July to get them creating their very own small artworks. Supported by Starbucks, The Bridges, Creative Cohesion and Sunderland Council, the project took the theme of Summer and encouraged participants to create a 3” x 3” tile in any of the art mediums mentioned.

The response was phenomenal, with some people choosing to stick around to make a tile in all 3 mediums! For 2 wonderful weeks the tiles will be shown altogether creating The Big Picture which you can see between the Museum’s opening hours Monday to Saturday 10am until 5pm, and Sunday 2pm until 5pm.

Due to the resounding success and number of participants, plans are being put into place to develop the project for 2012 in a Sports theme to coincide with the Olympic Games. So if you missed out making a tile this time, don’t worry there is always next year!

Jo Howell the Big Picture Sunderland

How to clean wax…


If you’re anything like me then you might find that when you are making your work, and pouring your waxes sometimes there are leaks or spills or you wax somehow gets contaminated with stuff. Here’s how to clean it in three simple steps.

What you will need:

Dirty Wax
Two containers for your wax- I will use a pot on a hob to melt my dirty wax, and a crock pot (slow cooker) to hold the clean wax and keep it warm for using
Something to melt the wax- hob, or slow cooker
Steel Wool
A metal Seive – Flat or curved

Step 1: Melt your dirty wax in a pot on the hob or a slow cooker, while it is melting prepare the steel wool by unrolling it and laying it into the sieve- try to flatten it down and compact it as much as you can.


Step 2: Hold or rest the sieve over the other pot where you want to have your clean wax and pour the dirty wax through the sieve.



Step 3: Have a cuppa and congratulate yourself on a job well done- don’t forget to trash the steel wool and all that dirty gunk!

Arts Festivities in Sunderland

I will be having a stall at the first ever American Market on July 2nd, in Sunniside Gardens, Sunderland. I will have a selection of small gift items for sale including original handmade jewellery, and paperweights.Glass Necklace Sunderland

I will also be offering people the chance to have a go at making your own glass to take home, it’s a little taster session for my full six week evening class. Cost £10.
You can make a small item for yourself, or as a gift, its totally up to you what you want to make, it could be a small sculpture, an item of jewellery, a little box, or bottle, coaster… really anything you can make in clay- we can do in glass. The taster session will last between 45 minutes to an hour and half it depends on how much detail you want to put in your piece and how long it takes you to sculpt it.
Handmade Jewellery, SunderlandThis session is great for kids as well. Once you have sculpted your clay, we will pour the mould, you’ll have to let it sit for about 30 minutes, in which time you could go and enjoy the other wonderful activities we have going on in the park including a live 50’s style rock’n’roll band. Then you can come back and dig out your clay, and clean out the inside of the mould, and pick your glass to go into it.
I will be casting all the glass at a later date, but I will be videoing it so you can see all the steps. Then your piece will be ready to pick up!

This market is part of the Sunderland International Friendship Festival which runs across the city. This year we are celebrating our connections with the US, Washington DC being one of our twin cities, the theme is aptly coordinated to the US celebrations, 1-4th of July, culminating in American Independence Day celebrations at Washington Old Hall on Monday, July 4.

On July 2nd the great activities and entertainment includes:

  • Live glassblowing demonstrations in the gardens

  • Ceramics demonstrations and you can have a go at making your own pot

  • Make your own glass sculpture mini sessions

  • 22 stallholders selling fine foods, handmade crafts, and gifts

  • Live Jazz

  • American Style Rock’n’Roll Band

  • Live Radio Broadcast by Spark FM

 Activities in Sunniside Gardens July 2nd 2011

Art Courses at Creative Cohesion

Well Joe Robinson’s Life drawing classes are off to a good start, they’ve been running for a few weeks now, and we have a steady flow of professional, amateur, and student artists. Remember its never too late to take up drawing and its never too late to take this course- each session is a standalone session, and all materials are provided. Just bring £15 and your inspiration. Classes are held Wednesday evenings 6:00-8:30 pm.

Liz Shaw’s Ceramics workshops are going to start on this Tuesday (June 7th) so its not too late to join. They will be starting from 6:00pm and will end at 8:30pm. The sessions will be £15 pound each. In the first week she will be covering Slumping, throwing and also if there is time, some slab building. If you are interested in coming down then either give her a ring on 07816204986, or just turn up at Creative Cohesion, 20-21 Nile St, Sunniside, Sunderland, SR1 1EY.


Announcing a New Course: Glass Sculpture and Casting!

Learn to cast glass and create your own art pieces from scratch. Great for easy and personal gifts or just to liven up your home. Make sculptural decorative work, or a functional display item.

This class will cover clay sculpting, basic open facemoulds, rubber alginate moulds, lost wax, and glass casting. Perfect for beginners to learn the process, and for those who already know the process to experiment with new ideas.

A range of glass is included in the materials fee, and all Materials will be provided. Please wear old clothes, plaster can be messy.

Course Fee: £125 for six, three-hour sessions Payment due at first lesson.

Location: Creative Cohesion, 20/21 Nile Street, Sunderland, SR1 1EY

Dates: Mondays, July 4th, 11th, 25th, Aug 1st, 8th, 15th 6-9pm

You can contact me if you have any questions- or if you’re ready to roll just fill in the course registration form!




Art and Craft Classes at Creative Cohesion

We have some new courses starting up soon at Creative Cohesion, 20/21 Nile Street, Sunniside,Sunderland, so far there is life drawing and ceramics. Call now to book your place, on 0191 565 5331.

Life Drawing

Engage ( or re-engage) with your inner artist !

Life Drawing classes at Creative Cohesion,  with Fine Artist and Illustrator Joe Robinson, commencing Wednesday May 4th.

Despite the continually-evolving techniques employed in contemporary art, drawing from the model continues to be the proven and accepted means of acquiring the skills and disciplines every artists requires.

There is a very informal atmosphere, open to all artists regardless of age or ability, classes run from 6pm-8.30pm, £15 per week which includes all materials.

Places are limited so please contact at artifact.ne@btinternet.com or phone 07873 407220


Liz Shaw will be running ceramics classes, come learn all you need to know to master this ancient art form. Classes begin June 7th and run fro 6 weeks. She will be covering:

  • Coil Building
  • Slab Building
  • Throwing
  • Model Making
  • and more

Each class is £15 a session. Please email elizabethshaw@live.co.uk  or call 07816 204986 to book your place!

Plaster/Quartz Mould

Well I’ve finished my latest mould I don’t have too many pictures of this process as I was elbow deep in plaster most of the time, but I’ll describe it here as best I can. I started out with the wax, with the negative stalactite shapes in it, now, as discussed in my previous post, the plaster that fills these shapes needs to be slightly softer than the rest of mould, so that when the the piece has been cast as the glass cools down and contracts, the plaster needs to be soft enough to flex and give way to the glass, otherwise the piece will crack. But of course this softer plaster needs to be strong enough to hold up to all the processes that happen to it before it gets fired, so in order to reinforce it I have taken the advise of far more experienced casters Heike Brachelow and Katya Filmus and used cuts of copper wire embedded into the mould as it was set.

I hand built the mould  in one part, so the first step was to prepare the copper wires to fit into the stalactite shapes, I’ve never used this method before myself, I’ve only heard it described to me, and I was a bit concerned about the wire being smooth and having no tooth, so I used one piece of slightly thicker wire about 1mm and wrapped a fine copper wire around it, about .02mm thick to give it a sort of thread. I cut them down to a length that meant they stuck out of the stalactite a bit and would be sticking into the main part of the mould. I prepared a small mixture of the weaker plaster and quartz (normally I use a 50/50 ratio of plaster to quartz, just taking alternating handfuls of each, for the softer mixture I just added an extra little bit of quartz) I poured (well dribbled really it was such a small quantity) that into the stalactite shapes and as the plaster set I wanted to ensure that the wires were in their correct positioning. I didn’t want the wires to be all the way at the tip of the stalactite because when the glass is cast, if any of the copper touches it, the copper oxide can cause the glass to turn blue, so I had to keep adjusting the wires to the correct and centered position as the plaster was setting.

Then I proceeded with the usual 50/50 mixture hand building the mould, I did a couple layers and then put a chicken wire cage around it and put on another couple layers. Once it had set, it was time to steam out the mould. I’ve spoken to a few people about how long one should wait for a plaster/quartz mould to set before they steam out the wax, I was initially taught that it takes 24 hours for the chemical reaction to be 100% finished and if you steam out before then you could lose surface detail. But in my own experience I’ve never had much problem steaming out once the mould has cooled off. For this particular mould I decided to wait a week, when I have attempted this shape in the past, what I found was that in the steaming process the stalactites in the mould fell off, because they got so soft from all the moisture. So this time I wanted the mould to be well set and also to dry out a little. While it was steaming out I checked and rotated it often to ensure that one area wasn’t getting over saturated. And Voila! So far so good, the mould has come out just fine, and its now drying out, getting ready to go in the kiln. All I’ve got left to do is order the glass!