I am an Essex based WI approved speaker and give talks and demonstrations on an eclectic mix of subjects.
Life has been a little busy over the last few weeks. The vegetables and fruit have been growing faster than we can eat, freeze, store or make jam from.
We are particularly pleased with the tomatoes. Having lost all of our 30 plus plants to tomato blight last year, this year we spent some time researching blight resistant varieties.
We picked 10 of the best and haven’t had a problem with any. We have grown them in a variety of places from a polytunnel to a greenhouse and out in the open.
Remembering just how much rain we have suffered this summer, it is amazing that they have shown not a single sign of blight. The results speak for themselves…N0w must go, I have a couple of buckets of runner beans in need of picking.
Having tried out a few different techniques for glass fusing with ferns, and finalising the best, I have now moved on to the main reason for all this, the insert for the oak tray I am currently carving.
I started with 3 ferns coated with green glass powder.
These were fused to a sheet of clear glass.
With the carbon residue from the ferns themselves removed, this left the glass powder behind, reflecting the fern shape and form.
Next the sheet was turned upside down and a sheet of opaque white glass put on top, as the background.
This meant that what was to become the top surface was against the kiln plate. The reason I did it this was around was to give the top surface a textured finish to match the fern feel. The glossy, shiny top surface of the glass in then on the bottom and hidden.
The result is below:
I have tried to show the silk surface texture in this picture.
All I need to do now is complete the oak tray which this will be inserted into.
We had mixed results from the glass fusing with ferns.
Good news is that two of the techniques worked really well, the other 7 didn’t.
Without going into too much detail, unsuprisingly ferns by themselves turn to ash at glass melting temperatures. This can be used to create interesting fossil type effects as on 3 above, but at the risk of also creating large bubbles if you don’t use slow temperature ramps. If the fern is delicate then, as on sample 2 above, it is likely to completely disappear.
The key appears to be use glass powder stuck to the fern, as on 1 and 8 above, with a 2 stage process to reduce bubbles, as on 8.
8 is therefore my method of choice to produce a fern in glass. Using this methodology, next comes the large piece I need for the oak carved tray I am making. I just have to hope that the method scales up.
Even since we saw some glass fusing with plant material I have wanted to have a go.
Time, the garden, and the bees have conspired to thwart our attempts to find the couple of hours needed to try it out, but, with the nasty weather over the last few days, we decided that today was the day.
A little online research brought up about 4 different techniques to cope with the basic problem that, at 800 degrees, the temperature required to melt the glass, all plant material will have turned to carbon.
This picture shows the 9 different test pieces, all slightly different, to determine the process that works best for us for different leaf types.
Come back in a couple of days to see the results.
In the meantime keep your fingers crossed.
It has been a while since I last posted. The garden is in full swing and harvesting the soft fruit (blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries) has been my priority. it has truly been a bounty this year ad we haven’t even started on the apples and plums.
Squashes and courgettes are also getting underway and the garlic needs digging up, so you get my point, food comes first.
Having said that, the bees have also been busy. We have completed the first extraction of the year and the bees in the long hive are doing well.
Here is one of the long hive frames, as seen during a recent beekeeping experience day. They are pulling out the comb to fit the V shaped hive and have built up 6 frames already. I’ll try to post some more detailed pictures soon, but that’s it for now.