In this regular feature we speak to one of the members of the Wessex Guild to find out a bit more about them and their craft, techniques and inspirations.
How did you start doing your craft? What inspired you?
I have always done lots of different crafts, ranging from cross stitch, to china painting and even nail pictures, as a youngster. I had joined a stained glass group and was generating lots of small ‘scraps’ of glass, so wanted a way to be able to use them.
I booked onto a one-day glass fusing course locally and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I also found out that you cannot use stained glass for fusing. Now I have two completely separate stocks of glass and have to work diligently to keep them apart.
I am inspired by the creation of varied pieces representing nature, animals, landscapes and particularly seascapes and seaside themes. I love detail in my work and people are often amazed that all of my work is created from the glass itself and not painted on.
What relevant experience or qualifications do you have?
I have degrees in textiles and teaching, so draw from both of these to create my pieces or run my glass fusing courses. Two keen students are considerably easier to deal with than a room full of 11-16-year-old pupils.
Beyond my formal qualifications I have great eye for detail and a desire to create new and unusual pieces, often at the suggestion of a prospective customer.
What do you do and where do you do it? Do you have an interesting workspace or location?
I produce a variety of fused glass designs, including pictures, 3D waves, free-standing plaques, dishes, candle holders, sun catchers and jewellery.
I run a one-day course on an introduction to glass fusing, which is proving very popular and may expand these in the future.
I have a dedicated studio in the form of a summerhouse at my home, with a view over the fishpond and the garden. It is where I also run my courses and provides a dedicated workspace for two students to work.
What is your design and making process? Can you explain a little about your techniques?
Glass fusing is the process of melting glass in a kiln to bond it together. There are two main techniques: Full Fusing, where the glass completely sinks into the base glass and has a top cap of clear glass to give a flat surface, and tack fusing, where the glass bonds to the base, but does not sink into it. This produces a 3D effect and can be used to produce a lot of detail in the finished piece.
Designs are fused on a flat shelf in the kiln using a series of ‘steps’, with different rates of heating, cooling and hold stages, to remove bubbles and relieve stress in the glass. All in all, each firing can take up to 24 hours to complete.
Some designs go through a second firing stage to ‘slump’ the piece into a mould and create a wave or dish.
What is unique about your work? Do you use special methods or make unusual products?
Most of my work is created using a tack fuse technique in order to produce a more detailed piece. The temperature of the firing is closely controlled to produce the definition I look for (too hot and it goes like toffee and not hot enough and the edges are too sharp).
Among my signature pieces are large-scale pictures and multi-layer, three-dimensional waves, representing harbour and country scenes. I even make a fish tank design.
Where do you exhibit your work?
I have exhibited at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and the Petersfield Physic Gardens.
Can you tell us the story behind a special artwork you made? Who was it for and why is it memorable?
Recently I was approached by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) to produce trophies for their accessibility volunteers. They asked for nine free-standing waves with sailing boats on them. This was quite a challenge as usually every piece I make is individual.
The trophies were presented to the volunteers at a gala dinner and were very well received. They also have a regatta in the summer, for which I was asked to provide trophies, but COVID-19 has put that on hold for now.