We’ve asked Rachel Welford to write a blog about the pyrography work she is doing for her commission with the Jean Bishop Integrated Health Centre. Here’s what she has to tell us:
“Using fire to create artwork has probably been the most dramatic way I’ve been creating artworks lately! I decided to ‘use’ fire rather than depict it for the FIRE element of the Jean Bishop project, as I wanted to avoid any negative or destructive connotations of fire within the artwork. So, I’ve been drawing with molten glass, scorching the paper to make marks.
I worked with a skilled glassblower, Kalki Mansel at the National Glass Centre, Sunderland. Kalki was in charge of gathering the molten glass from the furnace, and getting it to the right temperature and shape for me to draw with. He then stood by with a water spray in case the paper caught fire!
Kalki also worked with me to make a series of glass curves, reminiscent of meandering rivers. He pulled the molten glass into long thick strings, and then manipulated it into curves with specialist tools. Once cooled, these glass ‘rivers’ were placed under the paper. Using more hot glass, I then took a rubbing- picking out the shape of the curvy glass river with my huge pencil of molten glass!
To create a totally different range of marks, my glass pencil could also be pushed into a mould, where it gained a texture that was then transferred to the paper. I used a mould that created a series of ridges on the glass surface. I then rolled the glass along the paper, and the ridges scorched repeating stripes onto the paper.
Making this series of artworks was very physical – using the whole body to bring movement into the marks. It was also very hot work! Those furnaces blast out a lot of heat! I loved it!