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Had a fantastic time in Oxford at the Stradivarius Exhibition yesterday. The exhibition was made up of two rooms, and you could get an audio guide. There was an introductory film before you went in, which gave you a brief history of violin making and a few sneak peeks of the instruments. You are allowed to take photographs, but not use flash.

The first room had a reconstruction of part of a violin making workshop (set up by Oxford Violins), with displays showing how violins and other stringed instruments are made. Many of the tools used in Stravari's time are still in use today.



There were patterns for scroll decoration, tools, some wooden templates, and I was particularly excited by the piece which showed how to mark the position the Cello f-holes with the aid of a pair of compasses...

In this first room there was also a big wall display showing the stages in making and varnishing a violin - interesting to see that a clear "sealing" coat goes on first, then the tinted coats which are built up gradually to provide the right colour. There was also a fabulous (but unfortunately silent) video showing someone making an instrument inspired by the Cipriani Potter (the one in the first image). It was fascinating to see how they create the decorative purfling.



The second room was full of Stradivarius instruments in glass cases, including the famous "Messiah" which is normally held by the Ashmolean. It was wonderful to see several Stradivari Cellos and to hear them played via the audio guide. I was disappointed that there was a mistake on the audio guide - with one of the cello pieces they said they were playing "Allegro Appassionato" by Saint-Saëns, but it was actually "Elegie" by Fauré! I did tell the staff, but they said they knew!

This is "The Messiah", which is in the Ashmolean's Collection. If you'd like to see more of the instruments let me know and I'll post up pictures of them after the exhibition has ended ...



The exhibition guide (£5) is good, with clear photos and lots of information. There is also a posh glossy book to accompany the exhibition, but it costs £60 and only covers the instruments in the exhibition rather than a wider range of Strads, so I decided to give it a miss.

I did buy the previous month's copy of The Strad (magazine), which was great to read on the train on the way home - Nice to see Raphael Wallfisch on the cover - his mother-in-law (Marianne Maxwell) was my first cello teacher!

I always feel a bit sorry for musical instruments in glass cases, but at least with these I knew that some of them were going home to be played again at the end of the exhibition.

Stradivarius is on at the Ashmolean Museum until 11th August. Go and see it if you can!
janecameron: (Default)
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit London Glassblowing to sit and watch some demonstrations. Headed up by Peter Layton, and near London Bridge station, this is a fantastic place to go and spend an hour (or three!).

They have exhibitions and the glassblowing area is open plan and has a few seats, so you can sit and watch them making or wander around the showroom.

On the day I went they were making these:



You start with a small blob of molten glass. Sometimes this is a block of coloured glass which has been pre-heated in a kiln ... then you build it up with various layers of glass and blow down the hollow pipe so it expands and turns into a vessel rather than a paperweight!



Sometimes you even swing it round in circles! This helps to stretch the glass into a taller shape.



This is a wooden block which enables the glass to be shaped into an oval ... the surface chars under the heat of the molten glass and gives it a beautiful smooth surface.



I also got to watch Ant Scala working on some glass fruit with applied silver leaf, and he gave me some really helpful tips for my future work. Thanks Ant!

Their website is here: http://www.londonglassblowing.co.uk/

---

I was also very lucky to have the opportunity to chat to the very talented Layne Rowe, who had an exhibition on at the time I visited.



His latest work is stunning, using a clear glass base covered in bars of hand made multi-layer glass cane, coldworked and fire polished to produce these amazing layered effects. So inspiring!



His website is here: http://layneroweglass.co.uk/ and you can also see a video of him talking about his work on the London Glassblowing Facebook page. Well worth a look!

PS This is just down the road from the Fashion & Textile Museum, so why not visit both on the same day!
janecameron: (Default)
I recently went to the fabulous Kaffe Fassett Exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London. I was really glad I made the effort to go. It was really interesting to see the work of someone else who also worked in several media (knitting, quilting, textile designs, ceramics) and see how his style translated into the different materials.



The museum is quite small, but the work was detailed so it was good to be able to get up close and have a good look at it. There was also a "touching wall" which had loads of samples of fabrics stapled to it so you could really get a good look at them - definitely something I'd like to try at home! The framed samples of knitting were also really fun - a great way to show off trial pieces.



I found the sketches of fabric designs very interesting - especially the way the repeats were marked and how all the different colours used were in little boxes along the bottom of the page.



There was also a DVD running on repeat which was called "Kaffe's Colour Quest", which I sat and watched all the way through - it was really interesting as it showed him visiting India and Vietnam with a cameraman and showing where he had found his inspiration, particularly in terms of pattern and structure with a particular interest in the patterns people create.



I loved the way that the quilts were displayed wrapped around pillars, and cushions were suspended from the ceiling in stripy circles. I also liked the way that some of the patterns within the patchwork squares were quilted too - gave a new dimension to the work.



The concept of "no white between colours" is something I've been thinking about for a while especially in regard to my silk painting. I think I may have to do some more work on the "hidden gutta lines" technique as that will enable me to put colours directly next to each other which will make a lot of difference to the way they work together.

I'm so glad I went, and I also popped in to London Glassblowing on the way back and watched some great demonstrations - more on that in my next post!

Did you go to see the exhibition? What did you think of it?

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janecameron

September 2015

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