From lost wax to virtual models, an exploration of kiln formed glass practices and technologies in the 21st Century.
Thwaites, Angela (Started 2015) From lost wax to virtual models, an exploration of kiln formed glass practices and technologies in the 21st Century. PhD study, University of Sunderland.
Studio glass covers diverse practices that encompass a wide variety of aesthetic approaches as well as a broad range of techniques and materials. Kiln formed glass is the most ancient of these practices and its use of techniques and material has not changed significantly for hundreds or possibly thousands of years. Limitations in approach and technique holds back innovation which threatens the continuity and future of kiln formed glass practice fundamentally.
This project aims to address this situation by exploration, experimentation and documentation of the development of new combinations of approaches, processes and materials towards the extension of sculptural language in kiln formed glass towards innovation and new content. By building on and expanding current themes as well as developing new approaches and content, this research project aims to develop and extend what is currently possible to make in kiln formed glass through combinations of traditional and digital approaches and processes and therefore to expand the expressive potential of kiln formed glass practice from where it is now.
Digital technology, particularly 3D printing, gives rise not only to the design of but to the realisation and production of previously impossible or nearly impossible shapes. It is the potential embodiment of what could be called 'the unmakeable' within kiln formed glass practice which is a driver for this research, to be explored through combinations of digital and traditional technologies. Ann Marie Shillito (2013), states that ‘digital technologies enable us to produce new work that was previously impossible, extremely difficult or physically and financially unviable to make by hand’.
Mixing with the Best,(Thwaites, 2002) surveyed over one hundred contemporary kiln formed glass practitioners which informed empirical testing of dozens of different approaches and material combinations in relation to mould making for casting glass. Building on this previous practice based research method and informed by the contextual review, this project proposes to carry out studio based experimentation using a diverse range of 3D printing approaches in combination with kiln formed glass materials and processes. One of the aims will be to develop an accessible and repeatable method of mixing and matching materials and processes across digital and traditional technologies exploring and documenting the effects and potential of changes in balance between the two. This research will document the exploration and development of new combinations of processes and materials towards the extension of sculptural language in kiln formed glass and the identification of new modes of practice which integrate traditional and digital approaches for the making of kiln formed glass sculpture.
This will contribute to the advancement of both technology and aesthetic possibilities in kiln formed glass. The approach taken during this project, methods of experimentation, and evaluation will all offer new knowledge to the field of studio glass. The exploration and development of form and content within this project will be of value in a field where there is limited critical evaluation of the relationship between digital and traditional technologies applied to kiln formed glass. The results of this project will be used to produce a body of finished works which explore, demonstrate and express the aims of the research : towards making the unmakeable in glass.
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