Simple Microwave Slumping: A New Glass Technique for Studio Jewellers

For the international exhibition, 6 Stars, in which Antje Illner was the sole UK representative, the organisers commissioned her to produce a body of work that would introduce new and accessible techniques for jewellers.

Glass has obvious historic and cultural appeal as a medium for jewellery. But this appeal and its considerable aesthetic potential has remained largely untapped in the practice of contemporary studio jewellers: it is the case that small studio workers who necessarily seek new materials and methods with which to refresh their range of expression are commonly inhibited by scale of operation and access to expensive technologies. This project, through its exploration of new and unusual developments in glass production technology, aimed to explore and demonstrate what could be achieved with simple, limited equipment. These jewellery objects that exemplified the simple but beautiful effectiveness of these techniques were published through a programme of exhibitions beginning with 6 Stars in 2002.

Another research focused on the innovative technique of slumping glass in a microwave oven – a development which would allow the maker to perform an otherwise complex and time-consuming task quickly and safely using inexpensive 'domestic' equipment. The results of Antje Illner's enquiry and practical experiments were a range of glass forms that could be readily set in precious metals by conventional jewellery techniques. Under the surface of a convex form, Antje produced intaglio relief images of motifs from nature, which, by the further incorporation of glass fibre inlays, produced crystalline and luminescent sculptural effects.