Glass

Looking more. Can you ...

  • Find the glass murrini used on this panel?
  • Identify the Pilkington Australia logo?
  • Remember why glass makers need shell grit?
  • Count the number of green torpedo bottles?
  • Create a slogan promoting Drysdale as a centre of glass art?

Learning more. Do you know ...

  • The date when glass beads and mirrors arrived in Victoria?
  • The formula to create glass?
  • The name of the world’s first toughened glass – produced in Geelong?
  • The date of the first Festival of Glass in Drysdale?
  • Which glass art tools are featured on this panel?
  • How many types of glass art use molten glass to create sculptures and other objects?

LEARNING MORE

For more than 180 years, glass has played a significant role in the Geelong area, especially on the Bellarine Peninsula.

trading Glass for land

In early May 1835, John Batman used glass beads to ‘smooth’ his meeting with Wathaurong people - members of the Kulin nation - when he first arrived from Launceston at what is known now as Indented Head. The sacred emblem of the Wathaurong people 'Bunjil' (Wedge-tailed Eagle) soars overhead in this panel and in many of the others.

The Kulin nation lived on the lands known now as Melbourne, Geelong and the Bellarine Peninsula; and Batman offered to ‘rent’ 600,000 acres of that land, to graze sheep. The ‘rent’ consisted of blankets, tools ... and some glass mirrors.

The formula for Glass:

CaCO3 + NaCO3 + SiO2 = glass!

In this panel, Bellarine’s role in Melbourne’s 20th century glass manufacturing industry is symbolised by the shells and the sack of shell grit.

In the 1930s and again in the 1950s, thousands of tons of shell grit were shipped by train from the Bellarine for use in Melbourne’s glass factories.

The connection between glass and those chemical symbols? Shells consist mostly of limestone - Calcium carbonate (CaC03). Glass makers add small amounts of limestone and soda ash (Sodium Carbonate - NaCO3) to fine silica sand (Silicon dioxide - SiO2) and heat the resulting mixture in a furnace to around a thousand degrees centigrade to create glass.

TORPEDO BOTTLES AND THE BELLARINE

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Clifton Springs was a popular destination for people from Geelong and from Melbourne. They came to 'take the waters', i.e. drink water from the local mineral springs, which was thought to promote health.

Aerated water from the springs was also sold in corked green bottles called "torpedo bottles" because they lacked a flat base. This was to ensure that the bottle's cork was always in contact with the water, preventing it from drying out, shrinking and allowing the gas in the water to escape. Shards from these bottles are still found in the area.

1937 Windscreens and ‘Armourglass’

Pilkington Australia (part of the UK-based Pilkington Group of glass companies) built the first Australian automotive glass plant in Geelong in 1936; and the plant started operations in 1937 under the name Pilkington Automotive. The following year, the Geelong factory produced the world’s first toughened glass, given the brand name, “Armourplate”.

types of glass art

Hot glass

  • "Hot glass work" involves heating glass to approximately 2,000 degrees in a furnace or in the flame of a gas torch. The resulting molten glass can then be blown, sculpted, wound or cast into, for example, goblets, vases, sculptures, hand blown bowls and jewellery and ornaments.
  • Heating glass in a torch is known as "lamp working" or "torch working". This panel features some lamp worked beads and "murrini". Murrini are small, flat and often patterned glass 'chips' that have been cut from a glass cane; and the cane is made by creating layers of hot glass or fusing glass canes together.
  • "Cast glass" is created by ladelling molten glass into a mould and allowing it to cool.
  • "Glass blowing" involves a glass artist using a blowpipe or blow tube to inflate a lump ("gather") of molten glass to form a bubble, then shaping it.

Warm Glass

  • "Warm glass work" creates sculptural or functional pieces by heating glass in a kiln or an oven at 1,250 to 1,600 degrees. The temperature varies according to the type of glass being used - for example, slumped glass, fused glass, kiln-casted glass, kiln glass, bent glass, and pate de verre.

Cold Glass

  • Artists performing "cold glass work" work with glass at room temperature. Examples of cold glass working techniques include etching, engraving, grinding, and polishing. Mosaics, glass painting and leadlighting also fall into this category.

glass artistS' tools

Glass artists - like any other artist - use many specialist tools and pieces of equipment in their work. Some common tools for hot glass work are a blowpipe (or blow tube), a punty (also known as a punty rod, a pontil, or a mandrel), a marver, jacks, paddles, tweezers and a variety of shears including 'diamond shears', which have a diamond shape in their central closing.

Some tools commonly used in cold glass work are glass nippers and glass wheel cutters. These are used to cut and score cold glass in, for example, stained glass and lead light. Glass artists also use these tools to fuse and slump glass.

People unfamiliar with glass art may not have encountered these tools, so this panel features just a few of them - a blowpipe, a pair of diamond shears and a pair of glass nippers.

The Festival of Glass beginnings

In 2010, the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association Inc.* formed a sub-committee to devise and run a Festival of Glass in Drysdale. In 2011, the sub-committee ran its first Festival, which ran for a day and attracted around 6,000 visitors!

Subsequently, the Festival of Glass has become an annual event run entirely by volunteers; and has grown from a one-day event at one location to many events over three months at multiple locations.

Currently in its tenth year, the Festival aims to build the local community and economy by:

  • celebrating the beauty and versatility of glass art in classes, exhibitions and demonstrations
  • promoting the region’s glass artists
  • creating networks of individuals (volunteers), groups (collaborators) and businesses (giving cash or in-kind support) around the Festival.

As well as running a Festival each year, the Festival sub-committee has worked with diverse individuals, groups and organisations to:

  • fund, design and create a glass “Welcome to Drysdale” mural in Drysdale's town centre and a 12-panel mosaic mural in Drysdale's arcade
  • devise and run the highly popular annual Treasure Hunt.
  • establish and run an annual glass art Mentorship Programme.

Festival supporters include the City of Greater Geelong, the Bendigo Bank, local clubs and community groups, local businesses, local schools and – of course - the region’s population.

* In 2018, the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association Inc. changed its name to the Drysdale, Clifton Springs, Curlewis Association Inc.

SOURCES

  • City of Greater Geelong (2014) Victorian Heritage Database. Pilkington Australia factory and No. 1 Furnace report. 14-10-2014
  • Harcourt, R. “The Batman treaties”, Victorian Historical Journal Vol. 62, Nos. 3 & 4. Dec. 1991 - Mar. 1992. pp. 85-97.
  • MHG: www.mhg.com.au/page/history1

Relevant organisations