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Crystal Wealth Newsroom

The retirement you dream of

Lifestyle

As an international petroleum geologist, Bruce Atkins was fortunate to be able to retire early without compromising his lifestyle.

Having time on his hands has enabled Bruce to discover a creative side which was suppressed during his corporate career. From faceting gemstones to making silver jewellery, Bruce has explored and embraced his creativity… and his latest passion is glass art.

“I am a member of a lapidary club where one of the members had experience working with glass and was happy to share her knowledge with other members,” explains Bruce.

“After a couple of years we have a small group of enthusiasts who share their experiences and project results, both good and bad. You learn a lot from both!

“I also attend workshops put on by experienced glass artists and find a lot of inspiration on the internet.”

Earlier this year, Bruce installed a backyard studio where he spends a lot of time creating. He has bought an array of equipment, including a faceting machine, drill press, saw, flat lap (for polishing), glass grinder and, of course, an electric kiln.

“I attended a kiln building workshop in Canberra last year where I assembled parts to create my own kiln at a significant saving to buying one off-the-shelf, he says.

“The kiln is a well-insulated device with wire elements and a built-in programmer, which enables several firing sequences to be set up. A full fuse typically heats up to 820ºc.

“The firing schedules include rates and hold times to allow the glass to heat and cool slowly to avoid thermal shock and anneal to avoid fracture and ruining a project.

“The process of creating glass pieces typically involves planning a design, cutting glass to shapes, fusing it in a kiln such that it melts and joins together, then slumping it into a mould or draping it over a mould to create bowls, dishes or platters, for example.

“The glass is bought from specialist suppliers in a huge range of colours and patterns. It comes in sheets rods, stringers and powders in an assortment of sizes. We also use recycled glass such as broken window glass, bottles or shattered tempered glass, which we get free from a friendly glazier.”

Bruce now has quite the collection of pieces he’s created, but – for now at least – it’s purely a hobby.

“I don’t sell my work but am happy to give some to family and friends knowing that they appreciate the personal effort that goes into creating them. I get immense satisfaction in turning a basic material into a work of art and will continue to become more adventurous in my designs.

“Glass is a wonderful medium to work with and the only limitation is your imagination.”

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