How did James Allan and I come to spend an afternoon in the “hotshop” with a world renowned glass artist?
Tim Shaw is a glass blower who sells and exhibits his work all over the world. His pieces are notable for their brilliant colours and their size. Many of his signature works are also heavily carved and engraved.
Tim had been asked by one of the major Melbourne galleries in which he exhibits to provide them with both still images and video footage of him at work in the studio. So, James and I got to spend an afternoon in the “hotshop” capturing the images.
First of all hotshops are hot! This was summer but they’re still hot in the winter. There’s a furnace containing molten glass at 900oC and a glory hole working at the same temperature which Tim uses to re-heat the glass on his blowpipe at intervals to keep it workable. Second, glassblowing is a two person job. Tim works with Bec Harkman- Kearns, a very competent glassblower in her own right.
So, two glass blowers, two photographers with two cameras, one tripod, one video camera all walking around in a dim room with two furnaces at 900oC and several kilos of honey texture glass on the end of a blowpipe.
The workshop was not exactly dingy, but being indoors had low light. James and I had to make choices about how to get adequate illumination. I utilised a flashgun, whereas James decided to use ambient light, sometimes pushing the ISO to get sharp enough images, sometimes allow them to blur.
The images in this article are a selection of those shot by James and me. The photos in the first box are all mine, except the first image (James’s close up of the flame on the glass). James’s photos are included below. They track some of the steps in the process from the first collection of glass from the crucible in the furnace to the final artwork.
What was it like? It was both fascinating and exciting!
You can visit Tim’s web page and see a description of his art and a display of his glass works at the following web address:
Postscript. – Here are the pictures that James Allan took. James did not use a flash. In the dark environment with rapid movement a different approach was required. James used a combination of slow shutter speed, high ISO and underexposure to get a different set of shots. These “alternative” shots were not as pleasing to Tim and were never used.