09 October 2014

It's been a while since my last post so it's about time I give you an update! The summer has passed like a storm, and meanwhile I'm back at college finishing my master's degree this semester, while continuing with my liberal arts degree at Sint Lucas in the 2nd semester.

So I'm a bit late with my Master's but I hope I can get it done now. I have to redo a couple of courses and finish writing that thesis... That wasn't the plan, mind you; I was hoping to be finished by September. But the summer proved to be quite much.

Perhaps it was to be expected: moving to my new house, renovating it, working on a lecture on my thesis and all the little and big things that come with moving into a new place didn't give me much of a break (although I had help on many levels from some truly awesome people! :-) ). And hardly had I moved in or we heard about my dad's accident and hospital stay, so mom and I dropped everything and took care of things in Antwerp. He's fine now although some things have changed (I'll talk about that some other time).

And so I've been catapulted into a new school year, a little exhausted but equally positive that everything will work out this year. If I stay mindful of the traps of burnout, things will be alright. I was in worse shape last year, after three years of intense studying and having combined two studies the year before. I've been doing pretty well in my studies, but I'm an idiot for not seeing that it would become too much. Or at least I knew I was playing with fire, having had energy issues before, but this was such a wonderful chance and I wouldn't want to miss it for the world. So I took that chance, and I'm not looking back.

Still I tumbled into an episode of burnout a year ago. Exhaustion, inertia and big emotions: it's a mess. Literally and figuratively! But it helped me realise I had to change the way I handled things (thanks to a wonderful therapist) and have been working on them since, one of which was the place I lived in. As much as I had loved living in the cute little house in Ghent, I had grown too big for it over the years (a bit like Alice!). So the hunt for a new place was on, and with mom's help we found it the day before my birthday! I wasn't planning at all to move to a small town like Ronse (my mom lives here), but when we visited it we knew it was "the one".  I'll gush about it next time, with all the proper pictures and renovation stories! No worries. So I scheduled to move after the exams in June and that's how that roller coaster of a summer started...

And now you know what I've been up to.

I long to get back on the blogging horse properly, sharing some hopefully inspiring things, books and people, and keeping you updated on my projects and adventures... But I'm learning to take it a day at a time, so I won't make any promises I can't keep. I'll do what I can and thank you for understanding!

10 July 2014

a change of scenery


In between thesis projects I've moved to a new town!

06 May 2014

The pâte de verre and artistic glass objects of Georges Despret (1862-1952)

a little intro


This is the first post in a series on Georges Despret, a Belgian-French industrial who developed the pâte de verre technique around 1900. He's the subject of my Master's thesis at UGent, and of the technical and practical research I'm doing at Sint Lucas (now Luca School of Arts) Gent. And I'm happy to share it with you!

reconstruction of a working process

At Luca I'm piecing together how Despret might have made one of his pâte de verre bowls, by making one from scratch. I've been working in the glass and ceramics studios, so this is a hands-on type of research, figuring out how each step of his work process might have looked like. It's partly based on historical sources and contemporary research into historical pâte de verre, and partly on the process of making itself.

Georges Despret - bowl 1906 - Design Museum Ghent
Georges Despret - bowl from 1906 - Design Museum Ghent
Of course it's impossible to replicate the exact circumstances in which Despret worked - this wasn't my intention, but I reasoned that making one of his bowls could be a helpful complimentary method since there are very little historical sources left. His archives and many of his artworks were lost during the first year of World War I, when his manufacture in Jeumont (north of France) was reduced to ruins in an explosion. There he had built a museum that showed everything his manufacture was capable of, with an emphasis on the artistic glass objects. But all of that has been destroyed.

So I've based my practical research on what remains: his glass objects kept in museums all over the world, his collaborators like sculptor Yvonne Serruys and ceramics specialist Géo Nicolet; a few archival documents, some contemporary press, and recent research. Next to that I've looked at the discoveries and techniques of other pâte de verre artists, like Henry Cros (the pioneer to whom Despret looked up), Decorchemont, Argy-Rousseau and Walter.

The little (and big) parts I couldn't find an answer to anyhow, I've tried to find through experimentation, So there's a degree of hypothesis in my research I'm well aware of, but that doesn't make this project any less worthwhile. I've received great help from my teachers at Luca, UGent, the city of Jeumont and the curators of the Design Museum Gent and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. And all the librarians... :-)

This research project will become a chapter in my Master's thesis (it's due in August, so I'm still working on it), but I also wanted to give a more personal account of it,  showing you what I've been up to in the past 7 months. A bit like my studio and work in progress pictures. Thanks for reading!

a few links:

Despret on Wikipedia (in French; I'll try to make an entry about him in English & Dutch)
Despret in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass
Mémoire vivante de Jeumont with photos of Despret's castle in ruins after WW I, close to his manufactures

further reading:

Cummings, Keith. Contemprary kiln-formed glass. Londen: A & C Black Publishers ltd, 2009. -with a chapter on Stewart's research on Amalric Walter.
Daum, Noël. La pâte de verre, Paris: Denoël, 1984 -extensive book on pdv, but needs critical reading.
Delaborde, Yves & Bloch-Dermant, Janine. Le verre: Art & Design XIX°-XXI° siècles. Courbevois: ACR Edition, 2011.
Hamaide, Frédéric (red.). De glace et de verre: Deux siècles de verre plat franco-belge (1820-2020), Fourmies: Ecomusée de l’Avesnois, 2007. -with a chapter on Despret's artistic glass by A.-L. Carré.