When I was at Vogue Knitting Live New York I managed to see Carol Milne’s work. She was positioned outside the marketplace; I usually don’t stop too long outside the marketplace, but these works of art are well worth the time.
Carol was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work.
Where did you come up with the idea for knitted glass?
I was working with round wax that looks like licorice. It reminded me of yarn and knitting. So I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could knit with that?” I worked on knitting with it and experimented with casting it in glass. It took a while to make it work, but I’m persistent.
12″H x 16″ x 4″, 2013 kiln cast lead crystal and a pipette
Was there a lot of trial and error coming up with the process?
Yes. Glass in its most molten stage has the consistency of thick honey. It doesn’t want to do what I want it to do. It took me several years to perfect the process, and even now it doesn’t always work.
How long does it take to create one piece?
Difficult to say since it takes about 5 different processes to make each piece. I’d say a minimum of two weeks, but up to a month or more. In a good month I can complete 4-6 pieces in a range of sizes.
How long have you been creating knitted glass?
Since about 2006
10.5″H x 22″ x 7″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal
How long have you been knitting?
Since I was 10. (in 2006 … HA HA HA)
What are your favourite things to knit? In yarn? In glass?
In yarn and in glass, my favourite pieces are the most complex ones. In yarn I love detailed cables and stranded colorwork. In glass, I like detailed pieces like Handmade (photo attached). In this piece, two hands are knitting themselves.
Two hands knitting themselves: a contemplation on becoming my own mentor.
16.5″H x 9″ x 9″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal and knitting needles
Is it much more difficult to knit the moulds for glass than regular yarn?
I knit WAX and make mould around the wax. The wax cannot be knit on needles. It is all intertwined by hand, somewhat like finger knitting. It is more challenging than yarn, because the wax breaks if stretched too far. It is also messier.
What are examples of things that turned out extremely well?
You’ll have to look on my website and decide for yourself. Mostly I don’t show work that doesn’t turn out well. I destroy it or rebuild it.
Strike a Balance
13″H x 21″ x 9″, 2013, kiln cast lead crystal
Have you had any catastrophic disasters?
Yes. I’ve had molds break and glass flow all over the bottom of the kiln. I’ve broken pieces removing them from the kiln. I’ve removed pieces from the kiln after several days, only to find that the molds hadn’t filled completely. Disasters are actually part of the fun.
The best customer reactions you have had?
Vogue Knitting LIVE events have been great. One woman in New York got a partial view of my work. She was ooing and Ahhing. Then the person blocking her view moved out of the way so she could see my whole display. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head and she exclaimed loudly, “JESUS CHRIST!” My favourite quote!!
Made to Measure
12″H x 9″ x 6″, 2013 kiln cast lead crystal and a pipette
Funny anecdotes from any part of your process?
No funny anecdotes come to mind. Although my daughters think I’m funny. I always come away from making molds with bits of plaster in my hair and on my face and in my hair and on my arms. I never notice until they’re laughing at me.
You can see more of Carol’s work on her website!