A studio by the sea
Robert Wynne’s glass studio is located only minutes from the very beautiful Manly beach.
The studio is situated in a light industrial area amongst Martial Arts, Fitness Gyms, Marine shop, Mechanics, Bike shop, and a Child Care Centre.
It is divided in to two separate spaces; the hot shop, where the furnace and other kilns reside and the cold shop where the glass pieces are finished.
The process: hot glass
Rob begins with a cake-mix called “the batch”; a combination of sand (silica), sodium, potash and potassium carbonate. Additives are used to stabilise the batch, reduce bubbles and increase workability. Various mineral oxides, including copper, silver, cobalt, gold and nickel are added if colour is required. The batch is melted in a special furnace at temperatures around 1280 degrees Celcius.
Molten glass is gathered on the end of the glass blower’s most important tool, the blowpipe. This gather of glass must be turned constantly or it will drop to the floor like honey from a spoon.
As the hot, pliable glass is exposed to the air it cools gradually and stiffens, and must be reheated at intervals in a special chamber called the glory-hole.
Hand tools, such as cold steel plates, wet newspaper and wooden blocks are used to shape the formless molten glass as a bubble is formed and slowly blown larger.
Finished pieces are placed in a kiln to be “annealed”; cooled gradually from around 550 C to room temperature so as to resolve internal stresses and ensure they don’t crack.
For those pieces that feature an iridised surface a special process is included during the blowing.
A specialty glass containing silver oxide is applied to the exterior surface of the main bubble. Whilst the form is still hot, the nearly completed form is returned to the glory hole and undergoes a special heat treatment which converts the silver oxide on the surface to solid silver.
Following this, an iridising solution containing tin oxide is applied to the hot solid silver surface which converts it to a satin iridescent colour.
Once the glass pieces have cooled, Rob further enhances them by etching, sandblasting, engraving or painting directly onto the surfaces of the glass forms.
Wynne has invested in Computer technology that help create the intricate masking needed for the painstaking process of rendering the complex surface finishes that characterise much of his work.
“The studio is constantly evolving, the changes reflecting those in my own development as a glass artist, the evolution in the market for hand blown glass and the changes in the glass blowing community.
Having two seperate working areas is fortunate, as both the hot shop (where the glass is blown) and the cold finishing area allows Rob greater flexibility and better quality control. Importantly it provides Rob the chance to divide the frenetic pace of blowing from the intricate and meditative process of design and finishing.
Five minutes from beautiful Manly beach, which is also near my home, the light, ventilation and access is all good. I have invested in good technology to ensure a good working environment and efficient use of time and resources. I am keen to keep a balance of fun and disciplined focus in the working space. The history of the studio is in itself an interesting book of chapters over time.”