I don’t like waste at the best of times. So when I started to think about the expensive Artista Glass that had been used to make the Green man I wondered if there was a more economic and ecologic way to create a glass patchwork.The idea of making a patchwork quilt or blanket is to combine scraps of discarded material to make something new and precious to the maker and to the person who receives it as a gift. It is a transformation of the best kind where hours of care and craftsmanship are taken to breathe new life into old discarded materials.
The connection between the patchwork fabric and the landscape also calls for a treatment in materials that is sensitive to the environment. It did not seem right that I should be using glass made just for the purpose of fusing in a kiln and produced at great expense for the art market.
I decided to try working with old wine bottles. Like most people I have a constant supply of empty wine and beer bottles that are washed and waiting to be taken down to the bottle dump. These became my raw material.
In order to convert them into a workable form I cut off the bottoms and cut the body in half. The cut sections were then placed on a flat mould in the kiln to flatten out. I reused the old patchwork blanket mould that served for the Albion green man figure, made from bits of knitted jumpers. This gave a feeling of landscape to the textures then imparted onto the bottles.
Of course the shapes reflect the original shapes of the half bottle and the base, I have tried wherever possible to keep these shapes as part of the design.The bottles are worked to fit into simple square compositions. They are drilled and then wired together with silver binding wire. The squares are then incorporated into the structure of the Quilt which is a frame of stainless steel.
The result is a fascinating mixture, part construction and part picture it reminds me of the cubist paintings by Ben Nicholson and constructions by Joseph Albers. There is also an echo of stained glass windows where the old glass having been broken is put back in a complete jumble of patterns and fragmented images. These windows I found in Hartpury Church in Gloucestershire have this character…
The ‘Quilt’ had its first showing at Quenington Fresh Air 2007 on the 16th June and is there till the beginning of July . The concept works as a screen, a window or as a hanging in front of a plain wall and can be adapted to a variety of sizes and designs depending on requirements. The possibilities for using bottles in this technique is almost endless!
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