November's WI meeting commenced as usual with thirty minutes-worth of news notices and reports on recent activities. In addition to the usual propositions for this month, were festive notices of December Carol Services various, including the Somerset-wide one in Wells Cathedral.
There was good news of recently established recycling opportunities available through the WI, which enable collections to be widened to include bread/biscuit/crisp wrappers. Maybe we will all be reducing the size of our kitchen bins as fewer un-recyclables fill them....
Input was invited for the preparation of next-year's programme, and for the theme of possible Monday afternoon get-togethers (currently mooted) as well as additional suggestions for daylong outings further afield.
Our speaker this time was Lu Lloyd of Pallker Art Glass, based at the Willows and Wetlands Centre. She not only spoke with fluent enthusiasm but also demonstrated her art before our very eyes. Beginning at evening classes her interest and expertise has grown to a passion, which not only leads her to expose and sell her creations, but to run workshops and carry out bespoke commissions.
She created a stained glass tile while demonstrating tools and techniques. Interestingly, this most long-standing and traditional of skills has retained some very old elements of construction, such as the use of horse-shoe nails to hold the work in place while working on it, and the use of tallow as part of the fixing process.
She remarked that her respect for the mediaeval artists, whose work we see all around us in old Churches and other buildings is unbounded, knowing that they had none of today's temperature-controlled soldering equipment or kilns. There were all sorts of surprising facts, so fascinating to the uninitiated, such as the need to stretch the lead rods before use so that they remained firm during manipulation – while at the same time retaining enough flexibility to be moulded.
We were treated to a demonstration of copper or silver foiling used in pieces of decorative art glass, and Lu explained the process of fusing. Glass required for this is quite different from that used for stained work and requires that the glass elements must behave the same way under the heat of the kiln or disaster will result.
In common with many who are enthused by their activity, she explained that she is constantly learning from others and that cross fertilisation takes place (particularly with ceramics) between creatives.
She brought a number of smaller items of fused glass for examination and sale, which had members poring over them – no doubt partly with a view to the approaching season of gift giving!
Once again, this was a fascinating morning, opening eyes to a relatively unknown skill.
Thank you Lu Lloyd.
Anyone interested in the kind of activities the WI proposes, or simply in hearing a range of stimulating speakers should contact the President -- Anne Geach on 253078 or just turn up at a meeting.