Rachel Elliott, a glassmaker selected for FourFront from Craft Scotland and Manchester Craft and Design Centre, blogs about her work for the show.
My name is Rachel and I'm a glass artist based in Edinburgh, not the blowing kind or the church window variety (although they are cool too!) but the kiln-forming type. This basically means I cut, paint, stack, poke, beg the glass into position or in molds inside a kiln before closing the lid and hoping that it turns out how I envisage after the program of heating and cooling finishes. Mostly it does, sometimes is doesn't, which can also be interesting too!
I've always loved hedgehogs, since seeing my first ones as a child noisily snuffling across the garden and dragging them indoors to feed them dog food and coax them to unroll. We rescued quite a few as well, mainly ones that were underweight in the winter or babies that we found in random places. This was in leafy Surrey and since moving to Edinburgh a decade ago; firstly to study my degree in glass, before staying and building my studio, I've not seen a hedgehog. Well, I say that, at least not a live non-pan caked one. For it seems no matter how many decades roads have been around and vehicles have been whizzing along them, the poor hedgehog has not learned to avoid them.
So I wanted to pay tribute to the hogs I've known (and hopefully will know again), appeal to other people's love of this creature, as well as throwing a bit of fun into the mix!
The Road Hogs installation consists of 100 glass hedgehogs, that have been cut from a single piece of thick flat glass using a process called water-jet. This process uses an extremely high pressure jet of water, mixed with an abrasive grit to precision cut according to a line drawn in the computer that controls the machine. The pressure is around 50,000 psi and your normal garden pressure washer is about 80psi! Some of these hogs have also been printed by hand in kiln-fired glass enamels with little traffic cones as they attempt to herd the rest of their friends around the plinth.
The hedgehogs will also be joined by a group of my baby hares, which will be more formally arranged in a large ring, where the repeating form creates a great optical effect with the contrasting clear glass and the matt cut line.
Here are a couple of films showing both a single hedgehog and hare being cut on the machine in real time.
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