Colour is a central feature of my glass, rich colours with added trails, cane and
shards contributing to the designs. Each piece is handmade in Stourbridge Glassblowing
Studio. The making process creates flowing movement in frozen time, relationships
of colour and texture. The ‘palette’ of colour and the surprise factor ensure that
each is a unique piece of glass art. The magical medium of glass constantly asserts
itself, introducing distortion, refraction and reflection.
Coloured glass is made by adding various minerals, metal oxides and metal salts to
a mix that consists mainly of sand (Silicon Oxide) and oxides of Sodium and Calcium;
for example adding Manganese produces amethyst, Iron salts with Carbon and Sulphur
give amber, and Copper Oxide results in turquoise.
Several manufacturers produce coloured glass in various formats for use in glass-blowing
and kiln forming; translucent and opaque colours add to the maker’s palette.
Stourbridge Glassblowing Studio was founded in 2010 at the redeveloped Ruskin Glass
Centre, Amblecote, and a location with a rich heritage in glass-making. The partners
work in the Studio to realise ideas and develop pieces that reflect their individual
styles. My work, which currently consists of rich base colours and designs on classic
vessel forms, can be purchased from the Studio or direct from the maker (see contact).
The Studio, which is not in operation every day, is also available for hire to other
glass-makers at competitive rates. For Studio details and enquiries about hiring
The New Ruskin Glass Centre is home to a wide range of glass crafts and other businesses,
and includes a fine café. There is car parking for visitors.
I studied at the International Glass Centre in Brierley Hill from 2007 and then part-time
until its closure in 2009. Sadly, I was one of the last students to leave this excellent
institution. An initial interest in stained glass and painting gave way to a fascination
with hot glass; there is something about the immediacy and the physicality of the
making process that is addictive. Towards the end of 2010 I jointly founded Stourbridge
Glassblowing Studio with three other ex-Brierley Hill students. The Studio is run
as a collective in the refurbished Ruskin Glass Centre in Amblecote, Stourbridge,
Vessel forms, bowls and vases, provide a sculptural framework for the designs. The
result can be as organic as the natural phenomena that inspired it. Also an interest
in abstract painting is evident in much of my work. The heating and manipulation
of colour and form is quite like action painting. Ideas often grow from the process
itself and take the design in a new direction. An inspirational figure in UK contemporary
glass, Peter Layton interprets the work of painters superbly.
Clear glass at 1100 degrees centigrade is gathered from the furnace by turning the
iron and wrapping the molten glass around the end; this is shaped using wet papers
or a wooden block.
Colour can be introduced at the start and added in several ways and at different
stages as required. Trails of coloured glass are applied hot to the surface of the
glass while it is turned. Trails can be thick or thin, random or regular.
After gathering clear glass from the furnace, shards and frits, powders and grains
can be picked up on the surface. Hot threads and trails can be wrapped around the
piece. Surface colours can be manipulated using hand tools or optic moulds.I use
colour a lot and add it to the glass in several ways. A piece of coloured glass
can be picked up directly onto the hot iron at the beginning of the process and a
small bubble blown into it; this colour fills the form as the piece is blown out.
Further gathers of clear glass build to the required size, and then it is blown out.
The hot glass must be turned constantly to keep it on centre. It is also reheated
regularly to maintain it at a working temperature using a reheating chamber known
as a ‘glory hole’.
After the piece has been transferred from the blowing iron to a punty iron it is
reheated. The neck can then be stretched, cut and opened using tools.
When the piece is finished it is removed from the punty iron and placed in an annealing
oven so that it cools slowly. You can never be sure what you will get until the
annealing oven is opened and the piece, in all its colour and refraction, emerges
cool and strong; a moment charged with excitement, but not without occasional disappointment.