Soft glass: the aesthetic qualities of kiln formed glass with recycled inclusions

Topham, Selina-Jayne (2012) Soft glass: the aesthetic qualities of kiln formed glass with recycled inclusions. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.


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My research is about combining recycled materials with glass structures to produce textile artworks that have unique aesthetic qualities and a considerable lifespan. This thesis examines the technical development of kiln-formed glass voided structures, the aesthetic qualities of colour and softness and the effect of the research experience on my practice. The practical element of the research consisted of 18 experiments inspired by visits to the Seychelles and Barbados. The technical development was informed by concepts of being and non-being and by glass-making processes dating back to 1650 BC in Northern Mesopotamia, as well as fabric manipulation techniques thought to have originated in the fourteenth century in Sicily. Some 37 technical principles were discovered together with documented firing schedules that could be generalised to kiln-formed glass making. In terms of artwork aesthetics a methodology was developed that identified 32 qualities informed by colour theories. To eliminate errors in terminology the origins of each of these colour theories were identified and described using examples of artworks from living artists. The main aesthetic qualities identified were light/dark contrast, colour direction in terms of composition and optical colour mixing, with the latter being traced back to theory associated with early Christian glass mosaics. I also discovered how my roles of artist maker and researcher led to insights that contextualised my practice the most profound of which resulted from revisiting an experimental failure, which led to the identification of a new aesthetic quality of softness based on visual perception rather than tactile response. In my conclusion I describe experiments that link softness to future products and artworks that further explore colour direction, being and non-being.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
August 2012Completed
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-01 - creative arts and design > CAH25-01-05 - others in creative arts and design
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of Art and Design
Depositing User: Richard Birley
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2017 15:24
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 17:20

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