Tell us a little about what you make?
I work with what’s known as ‘warm glass’ techniques, so using the heat from a kiln to manipulate the glass. My canvas is sheet glass, and my paints are glass powders and paints which are built up layer by layer over several firings. I tend to work in a pretty random way – unlike the restraint needed for something like stained glass where you need to follow a strict template.
Once I have decided what size panel I am making – which mold will shape the final piece – I throw the powders and frits (chunks of glass in various graded sizes – at it until I’m happy!
What inspires you and where do you find that inspiration?
Everything everywhere! I walk a lot through woods and meadows, along coastal paths and riversides, across high hills and moorlands, always birdwatching. I love cold water dipping which makes me feel so alive and in tune with my surroundings. Bathed in all of this, taking loads of pictures on my phone, sketching ideas and jotting down notes – my mind is full of inspiration which I can take into the studio when I return.
Tell us about your favourite medium.
For the last while it’s been copper oxide powder. Mixed with water it becomes an inky black medium which I brush or pour onto the glass, then cap with more glass. In the heat of the kiln this dark sludge is transformed into fabulous indigo bubbles – and depending on how steady my hand is when I’m painting it on I can end up with the most delicately wonderful string of tiny blue bubbles within the glass that shimmer in the sunlight. Truly addictive!
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of being an artist or maker?
I relish all my studio time, my alone time! Lost in music or a good true crime or creative podcast I love to immerse myself in the making process. It’s such a large part of being me, of what makes me truly me. But then I’d like a clone who could undertake all those mundane tasks like the tax returns, the marketing and the rest of the admin that goes with being your own boss!
What does being a member of the Ceredigion Art and Craft Trail mean to you?
It’s so important to be part of something bigger than just yourself. I’m with two makers’ co-operatives as well and the benefits of being part of a wider community are huge. Shared exhibitions, the chance to bounce around ideas, creative collaborations, a shared knowledge base – all incredibly valuable to solo artists. We can achieve so much more when we join together.
How do you manage a work-life balance as an artist/maker?
I think I’ve been really lucky and blessed in being able to have my studio at home – it’s in a converted small barn about fifteen steps from the house. This has enabled me to maximize my working day – which is mainly governed by the kiln and the weather. If the kiln is cooling and the weather’s good, it’s a walking day! Likewise if it’s sunny today but going to rain tomorrow I have to seize the moment and be outside in the sunshine. I’d rather do that and work until midnight than lose a good walk!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got the blues at the moment! In preparation for the coming season – summer will be here soon! – I’m creating a series of production runs of seascapes for a couple of galleries in Pembrokeshire. However, as I can never keep to the plan I’m sure a few more colours will creep in! You can keep up with my progress and kiln-openings on Instagram and facebook.
How do you know when your work is finished?
This is governed by the glass – each piece will have up to four or five firings and any more than that takes longer and can be risky. So I need to make sure I get all the work done on the pieces within those firings. The last run in the kiln is generally over a ceramic form to shape the glass so that it becomes a free-standing piece. After that firing I can’t change it so it had better be finished!
What is the biggest challenge of being an artist/maker?
I guess it’s a challenge and an advantage all at the same time – the fact that everything is your responsibility, from the making to the marketing and everything in between. You have to dance that line between being disciplined and giving yourself enough time off. I hope that after 30 years of being self-employed creatively I might have finally cracked it!
What advice would you give to new artists or makers at the start of their creative journey?
Make sure you’re creating something you love. If you’re doing that, being true to yourself rather than solely to the market, it will shine through in your work and other people will fall in love with it. And do every show and event you can, however small, to get as much feedback as possible – accept the knock-backs because there will be plenty and you have to be thick-skinned. But persevere! And remember to play – never lose that!