Farewell to the gas furnace and hello to energy efficiency

Isobel Waters in the hot shop. Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU
Isobel Waters in the hot shop. Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU
Wednesday 12 June 2024

With a continued commitment to environmentally conscious practices, the ANU School of Art & Design Glass Workshop’s gas-fired furnace was decommissioned at a celebratory event on Thursday 30 May.

Lovingly known as Roxanne, the furnace has been a central part of teaching and learning within the School since 2016, with glassblowing having been taught for over 35 years. Providing some of the finest facilities in the world, the workshop has enabled students, fellows and visiting artists the opportunity to create beautiful and intricate works of art and design, including the Australian of the Year awards.

Senior Lecturer and Head of Glass, Dr Jeffrey Sarmiento said “Roxanne has been melting since 2016 and this furnace has been the starting point for so many students to fall in love with glass. Molten glass is not something most people encounter on a regular basis and gathering it from an 1100ºC furnace is exciting, a little bit hectic and really inspiring.” 

The gas furnace will be replaced with a new, energy efficient electric model, which will begin operations for 2025 and offers the possibility of removing 72.8 tonnes of COtonnes from the University’s annual emissions inventory. 

Dr Sarmiento said, “We know that in order to continue working with glass, we need to get on board with ANU Below Zero and the ACT government’s efforts to address climate change, and reduce our use of fossil fuels.”

To commemorate its finals hours of service, glass artists Tom Rowney and Annette Blair, led students and alumni in the creation of a unique time capsule piece. 

“We also wanted our alumni to return to blow glass to create a final collaborative piece, one that we’ve made special by tinting our furnace a distinctive blue.” Dr Sarmiento said.

“Students and alumni were able to sign up for a 20-minute slot to blow a small object, and these included a goblet, a seashell, an Italian-style seahorse, a bird’s skull and a cactus wearing a cowboy hat.

“To contain these objects we’ve blown a giant glass time capsule in the shape of pill bottle. We had some of Australia’s top glassblowers working with our current students, and it was special to see so many graduates from across the years working together.

“Once completed it will be displayed in a window in the Glass Workshop until our new furnace lights up for the first time.” 

See more from the event here.

Updated:  13 June 2024/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications