Glass Reflections
Cambridge 7th to 9th September

Presenting Author:
Joanne Mitchell

article posted 27 Apr 2015

Joanne Mitchell

Joanne Mitchell is a professional glass artist who works from her studio in Newcastle, UK. She has a B.A. (Hons) Three Dimensional Design: Glass & Metal (First Class) from Manchester Metropolitan University (2000) and M.A. Glass Product Design (Edinburgh Crystal Scholarship) from the University of Wolverhampton (2001).

Joanne's diverse practice ranges from her innovative sculptural work, to design for the glassware industry, and commissions for corporate and domestic interiors. Alongside her studio practice she is currently researching glass at the University of Sunderland, for her PhD (expected 2015). The research has developed pioneering kiln forming techniques to create forms and images trapped as air bubbles, suspended within a glass space. Joanne?s artwork has been shown in numerous galleries around the UK, as well as in exhibitions in Europe and America, and is featured in several publications on Contemporary British Glass.

Contouring the Air Bubble:
Complex Air Entrapment, Clarity and Content
in Kiln-formed Glass Art

Joanne E. Mitchell
PhD Researcher, University of Sunderland, Glass and Ceramics Department,
National Glass Centre, Liberty Way, Sunderland SR6 0LG
Tel: 07866 086 898 - <>

One of the most fascinating qualities of glass is its transparency. A material whose internal dimensions are visible, and when combined with light, can be gazed into, through and beyond. Glass can act as a lens, a form, a window, a space. Exploring and utilising the interior space of glass has captured the imaginations of many artists.

Trapped air exploits the interior space of glass with the elegance of transparent form trapped within transparent form. Air bubbles have been used as internal decoration in hot glass for centuries: from the mercury-like spirals in 17th Century air-twist stem goblets, air droplet patterns in paperweights, and nets of bubbles in Venetian Reticello, to Swedish 20th Century innovative "Ariel" vessels. Hot glass artists continue to be inspired by these techniques today. Conversely in kiln-formed glass art, air bubbles have been largely uncelebrated; indeed they are often considered a hindrance to clarity, to be eradicated where possible.

This paper will present Mitchell's PhD investigation into the creative possibilities of air entrapment within kiln-formed glass. The artist will explain how her research has developed new methods for harnessing air with accurate detail, controlled as a tool for creative expression as form and imagery within glass sculpture.

The research contributes to the field of glass art through the development and documentation of the new technique "Controlled Air Contouring" in glass. Controlled Air Contouring incorporates digital fabrication technologies, aspects of casting and fusing techniques, and float glass sheet. The technique creates highly complex air bubbles in glass, with multi-faceted contour formation and a new level of control, clarity, intricacy and scale.

The artwork explores personal content with a subtext of air and glass: the transparent and the intangible, material and immaterial, image and object, form and void. It demonstrates the advancement of air entrapment beyond previous incarnations, into multi-layered cast sculptures, hot rollups and architectural panels. This presentation will illustrate Mitchell's innovative sculptures and technical discoveries which harness the impalpable beauty of air suspended in glass space.