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The Contemporary Glass Society Showcase: The Joy of Glass
The Contemporary Glass Society was established in 1997 to represent the interests of national and international glassmakers. It first grew out of the vision of studio glass pioneer, Peter Layton, and is this year celebrating a remarkable 25 years. Its team is passionate about glass and the artists working with this amazing medium. Today it has almost 1,000 members and continues to grow. The Society approached us last year to collaborate with them for a very special showcase where The Craft Centre and Design Gallery would curate 25 makers for a two-part celebration of glass by some of the most renowned glass makers based in the UK and beyond. As it’s a very special anniversary for us this year and the International Year of Glass, we jumped at the chance of this fantastic opportunity to bring some outstanding glass to the city of Leeds, and to give it the spotlight it so rightly deserves.
Pictured: Rachel Elliott Glass
Part I: 23rd April – 4th June 2022
"I love resolving my inspirations by mixing glass techniques. Trying out new ideas and producing what has been lurking in my head sometimes for years is very very fulfilling although initially very nerve racking to share with others. Making is essential to my happiness. It is a drive that can’t be stopped. During lockdown when I couldn't get to my studio I started painting again after an absence of many years. But I am very happy to be back to fabulous, glorious glass now to try and realise my dreams. Colour Ladders is a Stencilled, Fused, Cast and Gilded Glass sculpture of three building blocks inspired by childhood toys of wooden building bricks of many shapes and sizes and varying edges and of course the joy of colour. These individual colourful cast glass pieces are made to be moved around onto their sides and bases and stacked to get the most from the interference pattern that occurs between the stencilled internal patterns and views through and light projection. A feast of colour and juxtaposition."
"I started life training as a potter at Wolves Poly followed by nearly 30 years teaching art and special needs across the board then about 10 years ago enrolled on a day course in fused glass. Much research, more courses and trial markets later I find myself with a new studio build, 2m kiln and small business supplying local outlets and running classes myself. Lockdown has allowed me time and space to fine tune my direction and whilst I still love to create for the gift market my recent new range, developed over summer 2021 for one of my favourite events of the year – Wardlow Mires Pottery and Food Festival, has taken me to another level and market which compliments my large scale splashbacks/wall art. Colour, texture, light and painterly techniques all come together in useful pieces for the home but could scale up for a focal piece just as easily. Using powders, frit, rods and glass enamels my ‘Loosely Sushi’ range has come into being. With a nod to ceramics of the far east this range is adaptable with many colours possible mirroring the famille rose, verte, bleu or whatever twist I want to put on it as I create. Powders are layered between clear sheets of glass, my most popular design, the cherry blossom, is painted onto the top layer in classic black and gold then each piece fired twice to achieve the depth and shape required. Alternative designs have a limited palette of glass rods introduced or the striking monochrome of my brushstroke version. It’s a contemporary range created to add a touch of ceremony to a meal or just to enjoy in its own right, one of life’s little pleasures I hope."
Magdooshka Creates (Magda Gay)
Magda has been working in her garden workshop in Ripon, North Yorkshire since 2016. She is inspired to design and make work, motivated by a desire to add more colour, light, and movement into any garden or home. Her work varies in size from small flowers, birds and creatures, which can be found in our gardens, to large sculptural pieces. Magda prides herself on designing and making all of her original ideas with high levels of craftsmanship, developed over a number of years. She is continually learning and using a wide range of techniques from different 3D disciplines, incorporating a variety of materials, including glass nuggets and tiny glass beads threaded onto thin, coloured wire, using her signature twisting and twirling wire work, into some of her pieces. Magda predominantly uses traditional lead came and copper foiling techniques, together with some etching and engraving details on some pieces and is looking forward to using her newly purchased sand blaster and kiln to extend her ability to reflect the properties of the subjects she has chosen to make. She chooses the right colour and texture of stained glass and uses copper and black patinas as appropriate to enhance the appearance of her work. She creates organically driven pieces to hang or stand using wire, wooden and metal bases or stakes.
KayBee Glass (Karen Beggs)
"I was mesmerised by Amanda Gorman’s rendition of her poem 'The Hill We Climb' at Joe Biden’s inauguration in early 2021. Resplendent in yellow, bathed in sunshine, projecting hope, ambition, history and the future through her words, I tried to capture all of this in glass. It started with my own drawing as I do with all the pieces in my ‘stained women’ series. All of my work uses the tiffany technique. I used opaque black, brown and red glass for her head and hair, as a focal point and also to demonstrate the solidity of this fierce young activist. I used transparent yellow for her suit, keen that her clothes were secondary to her words; she has a strong stance on the ethics of sponsorship and fashion. The sun rays shine on her, answering the first line of the poem “where can we find light in this never-ending shade?"
Gina B Glass (Gina Clarke)
Since graduating from Stourbridge College of Art with a BA (Hons) in glass and ceramics, Gina have worked continuously with stained glass, now focusing predominantly on fused glass. Using a small test kiln she experiments with many types of glasses and metals to establish their compatibility. Once the glass has been chosen it is cut and ground to size ready to fuse. This is done at a higher temperature than slumping so two separate firings are necessary for each piece. “My work varies dramatically from delicate jewellery to large chunky panels and bowls. Colour, light and texture are very important to my work. Inspirations have come from research into the Bauhaus movement, with particular interest in the works of Kandinsky and Klee.”
Rachel initially studied Architectural Glass at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with her BA (Hons) degree in 2007. Since then she established her own kiln-forming studio and continues to undertake further specialized master classes to increase her curiosity about this material. Her work is primarily representational as she thrives in the technical challenges in capturing exact details in glass with the unexpected troubleshooting element keeping her constantly engaged with the material. Through this precision she attempts to explore contrasting concepts of fragility both within herself and the natural world around us. These new pieces aim to showcase the intricate structure of the nautilus shell, nature referencing mathematics with the scaled increase of each hollow chamber. The encasement of the shell within further loose particles of glass draws parallels from fossil excavation, playing with the role of the negative rock that is broken open to reveal the discovery inside. Much like most casting molds, discarded but an essential part of the process. From a more emotional stance the pieces are also a quiet reflection on the varying feelings and experiences of isolation, containment and distancing that much of the world has endured in recent times. A hybrid form of pâte de verre is used to create the initial shell pieces as glass powder and water is packed into various handmade silicone molds and frozen in place in a freezer. Without any refractory material, these forms are more sintered that fused in the kiln at low temperature and then hand carved to refine the shapes. In contrast, the encasing of these piles of dust with larger and heavier chunks of glass requires support from separating materials to protect them from the heat required to fuse everything together without destroying the fragile forms inside.
Hannah Gibson is an internationally renowned glass artist; and geologist, based near London. Capturing the nostalgic imagery of childhood, exposing hidden narratives, through cast sculptural glass stands at the core of her work. Studying for an MA in glass at the University for The Creative Arts in Farnham, Hannah began working on her current body of work, Recycling Narratives, Whispering Sweet Nothings. Passionate about sustainability and recycling, using predominantly recycled glass and found objects, Sweet Nothings are a series of cast glass figures whispering Sweet Nothings to one another.
"Growing up in the UK in an Indian family, I found my life straddling two very different cultures, trying to amalgamate them while maintaining their individual identities. To further complicate things, I was actually born in Kenya and my family migrated to the UK when I was very young. My parents brought me here to ensure I grew up in a stable environment, with opportunities in education, employment and life which I may not have had in Kenya. Being new to glass art, I am exploring different techniques and processes and hope to use pattern and colour to explore the ways in which art portrays people and cultures from around the world. Historically the Paisley design stems from Indian embroidery motifs, handed down through generations of families. It is a stylised depiction of a mango, the national fruit of India. Although it is of Indian origin, the Paisley was named in Scotland which to me represents the changing nature of design and how it can be translated across cultures. ‘Design Migration’ uses the colours of the rainbow to imply the Utopia that people strive to reach when they migrate around the globe. This is particularly relevant in today’s war-torn and environmentally impacted world, where refugees are seeking a better life for their families and willing to risk everything to reach safety and security."
Susan Purser Hope
"I love the therapeutic power of colour to soothe or excite and I chose the magical material of glass because it is such a dynamic and demanding material; tough yet fragile, opaque or transparent and always with the ability to surprise and challenge. It enchanted me and I left my career as a Commercial Interior Architect to retrain and become a contemporary fused glass artist. I create unique, hard crafted artworks which are often wall hung. Recently my work has been organised into collections where I review pivotal periods of my life, often interpreting meaning through the symmetry of pattern making. During the pandemic and locked out of my studio, I focused on developing smaller pieces of glass, making work that is precious, affordable and which is intended to raise people’s spirits. I love glass with a passion and aim through my work to make it easily accessible and joyful for all. Working with fused glass gives me the chance to handle and to communicate with this glorious material and to continually challenge myself. It provides the opportunity to work with a variety of different glass elements plus a range of techniques. One of the best Christmas presents I ever received as a child was a stencil set with its cork mats, mini bottles of paint, brush and a range of stencils. This memory came back to me during the confines of lockdown whilst exploring some of the craft supplies online and I was spurred into buying a number of custom cut stencils. Working from home enabled me to work on a smaller scale. How far could I enhance each original cut-out stencil and transform it into a small handcrafted wonder of colourful textured glass? I wanted them to be joyful, fun and affordable whilst stretching myself artistically. I have used coloured glass elements, frits, stringers and glass paint and then fused them together over several kiln firings. The finished glass piece is mounted onto a coordinating coloured back panel and framed. Finally I have covered the frame with a complimentary handmade marbled paper."
Morag studied Sculpture at Sheffield Hallam University using mixed media and graduated in 2002 with a BA Hons Fine Art Sculpture. For the last couple of years Morag has been working with her father, glass artist David Reekie, as an apprentice/labourer and has been producing her own work. "Working with glass as my medium is always interesting. Using the lost wax technique I am able to create my own unique forms using wax giving me the capability to sculpt with the detail I require. Casting them in glass makes the forms permanent with the addition of vast range of colours, characteristics and textures that glass provides. I like to add found objects or other props to my work. Transforming them into a piece of art, changing their purpose and giving them a new lease of life. In doing so, I want my pieces of sculpture to tell their own stories. My objective is to inspire thought in the meaning and to make people smile!"
Encapsulating the beauty of rugged landscapes from Iceland to East Anglia, Rebecca Rowland-Chandler translates the natural world into glass, researching its’ fluid materiality and combining the organic with the geometric. She meticulously arranging glass frits to create rich surface design, building up shade and tone, utilising jewel-like colours, bold patterns, and expressive mark-making. She graduated from University for the Creative Arts three years ago and currently works from her home studio in North London. "The glass I have submitted is inspired by Iceland’s otherworldly and elemental landscape, focusing on its vivid, jewel-like colours, and dynamic contrasts. My homeware collections are abstractions of the landscape, in which the natural world has been broken down into pure colour and flowing pattern. I work primarily with fused glass, meticulously arranging glass frits in a highly controlled manner to create bold, fluid and expressive patterns and mark-making, then fully fusing each piece to 804 degrees. Tablemats can be exhibited in dining sets (pairs) or as individual statement table features in a range of different sizes."
"I began working with glass in 2009 for the range of colours it afforded and because glass connects me with our history, having been used for personal and architectural adornment for over a thousand years. My background in archaeology and interest in the natural world inform my art. Much of my work is comprised of functional objects, such as vessels or bowls. I predominantly use opaque glass for greater colour saturation, blending glass powders for custom effects. Using heat and gravity, I create the final shape, always looking to bend the glass in an interesting way. I also make objects using pâte de verre techniques. I create as an expression of what I am feeling, or as a challenge to make something I have not attempted before (often with many false starts). I am always thrilled when someone looks at one of my creations and sees something special they can connect with."
"I am a fused glass artist creating canal inspired work from my narrowboat floating studio ‘The Pod’. My journey to glass was led by the waterways. I originally trained in Sculpture and when I started living on the canals, I was fascinated by the patterns and reflections in the water and the associated flora of the canal bank. The properties of fluidity and transparency of glass appealed to me as the ideal material to represent the canal scenes I love. I create collections of sculptural and wall art representing the changing scenes I observe from the towpath of my home, ‘The Chesterfield Canal’. Some work depicts the nature as seen on a canal side stroll; some mirrors the more abstract patterns of this canal flora reflected in the water. Through much research and experimentation; I have developed a personal style where I use coloured glass powders in the same way that a painter uses oils. I mix the powders to create my own canal colour palette. I then use the layering technique of glass fusing to create a three-dimensional depth to landscape scenes. I am fascinated by the ‘corridor of nature’ that canals can create in an urban environment. My latest body of work is based upon the canal side in the former colliery site of Manton, Worksop: the beauty of nature ‘rewilding’ this post-industrial landscape."
Can't visit us just yet? Check out our gallery photographs and our Virtual Gallery Tour of the showcase (Part I) below. Just get in touch if you'd like to enquire about anything you see, we're happy to help!
Part II: 11th June - 23rd July 2022
Based in Whitby, Effie is an artist who works with glass. Her work captures the transient beauty of nature through the casting process. She has exhibited her sculptural work internationally including shows in a Medieval German castle, a gallery in Tokyo with the Crafts Council and Harewood House in Leeds. She often casts ordinary things like lemons or acorns and other natural matter to create extraordinary cast glass objects, often displayed in antique boxes or glass domes. She spent part of her childhood living in a museum and since then she has been fascinated by how things are protected, curated and displayed. "During the pandemic my practice has been fuelled by curiosity and chance encounters. Most of my work is foraged on walks along cliff paths or woodland near my home in Whitby. I specialise in a technique called ‘burnout’ I can preserve each organic object at a precise moment in time. By making a mould around the specimen, I can then burnout the original in my kiln, where it becomes ash. I am then able to reservoir cast glass into the empty space, using tiny terracotta plant pots balanced over each individual mould. It is an intricate process fraught with disaster, but I enjoy working with the magical and ancient properties of glass. My work has been quietly evolving through this time of restriction and using this process every detail of the original botanical specimen is captured."
"I specialise in stained glass panels while seeking the third dimension. My work seeks to capture the translucence of glass and its unique ability to work with light to transmit colour. My stained glass panels are influenced by the styles of the Pre-Raphaelite investigation of nature. I use the individual qualities of glass enhanced by etching and detail using traditional glass paints and gilding. My painting style is very realistic, layer numerous firings to create depth and shape that captures likeness and realism. My work is based on my investigations into historical and theological themes, with a contemporary presentation. My research allows me to identify specific subjects to explore shape and colour in a manner that allows the properties of the glass to enhance the design. The Bee and The Golden Weave, is inspired by my investigation into nature and the plight of the bee. I have used clear glass throughout and the bee and weave design have been painted using traditional high fire paints. All painted details have been layered and textured to create the illusion of depth. The bee’s wings and the hive cells have been etched using hydrofluoric acid to increase the sensual perspective. The hexagonal weave has been water gilded with 23.5 carat gold and silver. Gold and silver have also been used on the hive cells and the wings. The glass has been layered with the cells etched on the back of the glass and the bee painted on the front. The bee’s wings are painted on a top sheet of glass. This layering again provides depth and actual movement and overshadowing. The panel has been assembled using traditional leaded techniques."
Stephen Gillies and Kate Jones have been making exceptional contemporary blown glass together since 1995. Known for their skilfully blown and engraved sculptural vessels and their finely crafted Beautiful Bowls, their work is collected and exhibited in numerous museum collections including the V&A. “Our current work in cameo glass is an exploration, a ‘Portrait’ of the landscape in which we live and work. We observe the current land management practices which leave specific marks within the North York Moors. We apply and engrave layers of coloured glass, making marks which mirror the layers of human endeavour in the landscape. Marks made by people pre and post-industrial, etched into the land, overlaid and often reclaimed by natures hand.” Stephen Gillies blows the glass forms and applies layers of colour using Swedish bubble overlay. Kate Jones engraves the coloured surfaces with wheel cutting and sand blasting, revealing the layers within each form, allowing the light into each piece.
"I am a contemporary kiln formed glass designer-maker based in Altrincham, south of Manchester. I am inspired by contrast in nature, a theme that recurs throughout my work. My palette is one of bold and vibrant colours, allied to strong linear and geometric patterns. With the careful combination of opalescent and transparent glass, I create exciting light effects and depth throughout the object. During our pandemic-induced lockdowns I began to explore texture to reclaim the ‘touch and feel’ experience we had lost. With textured elements carefully positioned against the smooth glass surface, contrast is further enhanced and each piece is given an attractive tactile dimension. Some of my work is intended for use, but most of my creations, such as my bevelled drop out vessels, wall and sculptural art pieces, are finely crafted and decorative art objects. My work takes shape in the kiln, with each piece undertaking at least four firings of over 15 hours each. After sketching my project on paper, I cut and assemble the glass pieces before firing them to 800C. Glass elements are then partially fused on top of the piece to give it some tactile appeal. The shape of the object is achieved in a subsequent firing by slumping the glass into a ceramic mould or over a handmade steel mould. My drop out vessels follow a slightly different journey as the fused piece is carefully positioned on top of a ceramic ring though which the glass stretches down to a 3D vessel form. Hence, the name of ‘gravity vessels’. Each piece is completely unique from the original sketching to the final object and is a true labour of love."
"My copper-foiled glass work is inspired by geometry and floral motifs, as well as by artists whose works I admire. Stained glass work demands clearly defined lines, glass pieces that are ground into perfect shapes, and a harmonious and precise approach to assembling and composing each artwork. While the materiality of glass resists, heats, fights back and cuts through, and although light takes its own course, illuminating how it wants, what it wants, when it wants and where it wants, I find the contrasting colours and materiality of glass aesthetically and texturally fascinating, and each piece is as challenging and as inspiring as the next. My creative process starts with the design: when drawing new pieces, I pay particular attention to whether it is possible to cut each glass element, while also imagining how those elements will look once joined by the solder lines. I research colour pallets that will resonate with the theme of the work being developed. This is then followed by glass-cutting, grinding, copper-foiling and soldering. The process of creating copper-foiled stained glass enables a sense of flow and enjoyment that is just as rewarding as the finished pieces. It is by reflecting on the qualities of glass that the work emerges, piece by piece."
Twice Fired Fused Glass Studio (Kate Park)
Inspired by naturally occurring art forms – nature’s wealth of beauty is explored. From the tiniest, delicate seedpod or iridescent gloss of a beetle to the elegant formations of birds, each glass piece capturing subtle tones, textures and intricate shapes – hidden gems revealing themselves as the light changes. "I have been experimenting and taking inspiration from the patterns made in murmuration, the process of osmosis and the complexity of relationships and how that affects everything around us. This piece explores the positivity of healthy conscious relationships and the benefits they can bring. Using the highest quality hand rolled kiln-glass, sheets are cut, assembled and cast, each one cold worked and fused in the kiln to create individually unique designs. Experimentation with the firing process is what fuels my creativity and fascination for discovering fresh designs and effects."
"I am a glass artist living and working in rural North Wales. I use a variety of processes to create my work, combining kilnforming, architectural and casting techniques in unique ways to create vessels, sculpture, installation, architectural and public art. My work is inspired by organic structures, in particular the small details, the shapes and textures of algae, fungi, lichen, moss and ferns. I am also fascinated by the cataloguing of nature; natural history artefacts, early cyanotypes, x-rays, microscopic images of the human body and botanical drawings. The qualities of glass inspire me constantly, the fragility and strength, the transparency, opacity, ability to create layers, depth, pattern, texture, and all of this combined with the ability to transmit, reflect and channel light."
Handmade contemporary Kiln formed Glass is created in the heart of Lancashire by international glass artist Karen Redmayne. Karen has over twenty years experience in the making in her studio situated in the heart of Pendle. She is inspired by the colours and forms of nature and her surroundings. She is inspired by the colours and forms of nature and her surroundings. In particular that of northern landscapes and British coastal towns. Karen's work is intricate and delicate; fused glass made up of many tiny pieces of coloured glass which is then hand painted to add detail giving each piece its quirky style. Pieces are then fired at 800 degrees and some are then slumped and fired a second time.
"For most of my working life as an artist I have expressed my feelings through the human figure. Whilst some of my figurative forms have been androgenous, I have mainly concentrated on the male figure." In this new series, Venus off Balance, David has turned for the first time to the female figure. In these pieces he questions women’s situation and safety in society today. “Throughout history the position of women in the world has often been a troubled story of abuse and exploitation. With these pieces I question whether this situation has changed for the better or are women as insecure and vulnerable as ever.” These figures are lost wax cast glass. This process goes back to Roman times as a glass making technique. The figure is modelled in a soft modelling wax and then invested in moulding material which withstands the heat of the kiln, I use a combination of fine casting plaster and fine powdered flint mixed with water. When set the wax is steamed out of the mould. The mould goes into the kiln with a reservoir filled with the glass at around 800 degrees Celsius the glass melts into the mould. As the kiln cools it goes through an annealing cycle to stabilise the glass, it is then finished and polished.
"Two things give me great joy when I go into my glass studio to make new work. One is representing the wildlife of the UK, and especially birds in flight. I am fascinated by the way that each bird species flies, some cutting through the air at breakneck speed in pursuit of high-flying insects, others such as the owls floating on a cushion of air, silently watching for the minute movements of mice and voles. Some, like the swifts, fly in screaming convoys, wingtip to wingtip but never colliding, while others prefer to hunt alone. My other pleasure is glass. Working with glass that is glossy or textured, translucent or opalescent, even glass with a metallic sheen to reflect the lustre on a bird’s feathers, is one of the challenges of representing the diversity to be found in the avian kingdom. Much of my work is kiln-fired glass, which is a satisfyingly versatile way to produce images. These roundels can be free-standing, wall mounted, or used as the centrepiece of a stained glass panel. The background circles are cut and two layers are fused together in a kiln to over 800 degrees Celsius to give a stable background. The birds themselves are the result of many years of watching the sky, noting the shapes they make in flight. I then draw them to scale, dividing up the outline shapes so they can be cut by hand in sections. These finished birds are then fused by the heat of the kiln so they become part of their background. The heat is controlled carefully so that the images stay proud of the background, giving the birds substance and making a finished image which is tactile, and which changes depending on the angle it is seen from."
"As a contemporary architectural glass artist I design and create glass art that explores its potential and beneficial uses within architecture and interior spaces. 'Bringing the outside in' often communicates my inspiration by nature which I celebrate and infuse into the glass art with colour, textures and light. All of my work is handcrafted through a combination of traditional and contemporary techniques for a variety of architectural locations as well as exhibitions. Initially I fell in love with glass in my early childhood as both my parents are glass artists. To date I have worked for Cathedrals and leading glass studios while invigorating my passion for contemporary glass. I was also honoured to have received the Award for Excellence from the London based Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass. Living in the marvellous rolling hills of Yorkshire offer constantly changing light and its scenery inspire me each day. Through glass I convey my vision into bespoke pieces that are not only an uplifting compliment to the interior but also an aesthetical element evoking positive feelings with the viewers. Nature is the inexhaustible source of inspiration for most of my designs along with the influence of light, which enables me to capture new ideas and integrate them into a bespoke glass artwork. I always strive to push boundaries in modern glass art achieving depth, textures and captivating effects that best convey my visions into bespoke designs. Techniques and processes I love using in my glass art are hand painting, fusing, kilncasting, etching and precious metals embellishment. All hand painted decorations are fired to glass, and along with all other techniques, the art is weather friendly and permanent with the potential to last for many centuries."
Lil' Rabbitfoot (Samantha Yates)
Samantha creates glass flowers & foliage sharing her emotions of love, joy and appreciation. She believes acts of kindness, love & care are of great value in our lives. Her flowers are rich in individual character, naive & fun, revealing her appreciation of the natural environment, the simple beauty of nature and the happiness it can bring. She believes we are so genetically programmed to connect with nature, that we get a feeling of satisfaction, when we strip the seeds from a stalk of grass. She has a unique background with degrees in Environmental Science and Civil Engineering and has taught Horticulture part time for 14 years. Working with copperfoil techniques Samantha playfully explores the limitations of her materials & techniques, presenting glass to the light through exploration of different botanical forms, patterns & structures.