The Lovers Lights Gallery

gallery, art, designer, twickenham, west london, lighting, ceramics, wood, metal, prints, paintings, designer maker, glass, chandeliers. recycled, lamps

Ray Mallaney – Porcelain Hand Carved Lamps

 

In order to sustain my creativity I find I need to have time to think.  My recent much looked forward to retirement from teaching means I can devote myself to my own work. I had a years sabbatical from teaching 4 years ago and it was a fantastic period where I experimented with porcelain and new ideas, where for the first time in years I could ‘play’ and afford (timewise) to make mistakes. When you teach even part-time, your ‘making-time’ is precious you don’t want to waste it on failures (or at least I don’t)!

 

I am a bit of a manic sketch book person, I work things out in 2D and do research etc. I like working in a sketchbook.

 

In terms of subject matter for my work, I have always tended to work in themes; shoes, wings/flight, Tarot…I don’t know what I’m doing at the moment…whether working in porcelain is the theme or the fact that I seem to be looking a lot at architecture. I do know I’m like a miner I dig away at something until I feel bored by it, then I know it is time to examine another theme.

 

At the moment I am still excited by what happens when you switch my porcelain pieces on…the way light changes them…so for the time being I will continue. To be honest I distrust ‘inspiration’….but I do go with intuition!  If I get really stuck I go to the Victoria and Albert…there is so much stuff of such brilliance there it pushes me out of the lull, or I make something I think I would like.

 

From mybackground….oldish very working class parents, secondary modern school…art was something done by posh people, the likes of us got jobs and did art for a hobby. I did that for 2 years and then hated it so much, my evening class sculpture teacher said I was good enough to try for art school. So I did….Wimbledon Foundation, degree at Middlesex.

 

I have done commissions, but only based on what I do (I made a double piece for Schroeder’s Bank in London, but it was something I was keen on anyway).  I did a garden fountain, years ago which was really hard work, and they changed the deadline date so I had to rush…it was a COMPLETE disaster…I didn’t take any money…in the end they gave me a case of wine! I needed it!

 

In terms of repeating work…NO it is always even SLIGHTLY different otherwise what’s the point…I’m not a machine…..besides which if I try to make something EXACTLY the same it never goes right, the best thing to do is aim for a ‘recreation’

 

I like selling, and would like to charge more but will have to build up to that.  The deal I made when I left art school 30 odd years ago was that I would not live from my work, but from selling my labour: initially shop work, then technician work, finally teaching, that way I was free to make what I wanted and would not have to throw 200 Mugs a week. .

Charlotte Storrs – Ceramics

I love being able to create useable objects from lumps of clay. The throwing part is for me the most exciting. Throwing pots on the wheel is magical.

I make functional stoneware. New ideas for work arrive steadily. There are so many items which can be made on the wheel, you just need to look around you at the objects people use on a daily basis. Sometimes family members and friends come up with suggestions, always gratefully received! I will then go to the wheel and try it out, giving my own take on it.

I get inspiration from natural materials and organic food. My pottery is in our beautiful  garden with greenhouse, raised veg beds, away from traffic and noise. It is a very inspiring place to work in. I love to see a table laid with handmade bowls and plates, as opposed to impersonal factorymade items. Food can be so colourful and stands out beautifully against any white or muted glaze. Salad in salad bowls, roasted vegetables in large dishes, soup in white bowls, all a feast for the eye. Organic vegetables in buckets, fruit juices in jugs, pasta in pasta bowls….my whole range is meant to be used.

As I make functional stoneware there is no need to continually come up with new ideas. It can be equally satisfactory to make 50 coffee cups or a one off vase or dish. The thought that someone somewhere will be using what I have created gives me a real buzz.

 

 I joined an evening class in ceramics when I moved from the Netherlands to the UK years ago. I got hooked, but when our children came along I had to give it up. I was working as a music teacher and there were not enough hours in the day to indulge in hobbies. Family came definitely first. When our youngest son left home to go to university I decided to go back to College, became addicted to throwing on the wheel and set up the pottery a few months later.  I have not looked back since. There is a steady flow of orders, either for shops and galleries, or on line. There are times I have to turn orders down when too large as I remain a one man band and do not intend to employ assistants.

 

Being an artist is a very good and important part of my life. I feel totally at home in my pottery and can work well on my own. It is so good for the soul to be creative at any stage in life. I occasionally have Pottery Open Days when I assist people to “have a go” at throwing a pot on the wheel (donations to a third world charity). It is great to see how much enthusiasm there is for these events and how inspired children or adults are when working with clay.


 Being a potter is my 3rdcareer. I briefly worked as a translator, then became a musician (violin and viola), now also a potter.Marketing and selling can be an equally creative process; it is part of being self employed.

 

Any creative job, whether in art, music, theatre, dance is a tough one. But people should follow their hearts and try to make it work. It might mean taking on extra work of a different nature to pay the bills, but so be it.

 

Even though I would love to learn new skills, I do not have enough time as it is! I enjoy all the things I do and would love to have more time to try out different glazes, play chamber music, work in the garden, read, cook, see friends, go for walks etc. I do not feel the need to take on another skill.  My studio space is crucial to my work; it is in an ideal location.

 

Karen Williams – Sculptures

I love what I do, I wake up excited to work on my next sculpture.  I  don’t think of what i do as work – more as play …when you say work that sounds like a chore – I love what I do so I think of it as play – I will often say when my husband comes home from work – “look what I’ve played today “

 

Everything I do is self taught & to me that brings learning – my early standing pieces were rather wobbly but through experimentation they now stand really well. I’ve learned so much more by having to solve problems myself, than if I’d been taught how to do something. My earlier work was quite light, but I know make them heavier by making a clay structure.

 

I’m often inspired by the material I’m using. As I start on a new piece I’m not always sure what it will end up as , for example I had some old  favourite knitted socks that had holes in them , which when I looked at them I realized they would make a great jumper for a pixie. The other day when i was walking fraiser ( my dog )in the rain  my imagination was running wild , & I was wondering how faeries would keep dry – so when I got home I started work on a standing faerie sheltering under a large leaf.

 

I have been making my sculptures for about 12 years & I still haven’t got tired of making faeries & pixies. I will sometimes make other pieces for a change, but always come back to the faeries. AS a break I will sometimes make some greetings cards or do the odd bit of stained glass.

I’ve always thought of myself as a artist , when I left school I did an art foundation course but didn’t go on to university, I worked for a few years painting murals on motorbikes until I had my children, over the years I was always doing arty things , but just for myself. It wasn’t until I started making my sculptures that I started selling my work, and I truly feel that what I’m doing now is what I should be doing.

I feel at peace with myself – if I’m not creating something I feel empty, when I can take a pile of rubbish that most people would throw away and turn it into something beautiful it makes me feel like myself.

 

I’ve been with my husband Eric for 30 years and he’s still my best friend. I have 2 daughters and 2 grandsons. My dog Fraiser is my life – I’m with him 24hours a day – it’s really true – “love me love my dog” he has his own sofa in my studio so he’s comfy and I will often pause as I’m working to just look at him as he fills my heart with total love. Fraiser is a lurcher & is the inspiration for my dog sculptures.

 

Every piece I make is a total one off – no two pieces will ever be identical. I use no moulds or patterns – so although my work will have a recognizable theme each piece will be individual. I’m happy to do commissions be they a small piece made from your child’s old baby clothes, to a life sized old man. If someone likes a piece that is already sold I will happily make one similar – but due to the fact I use recycled material there’s no guarantee I will be able to source the same material.

I sell my work through galleries/ exhibitions. Although I love meeting people & talking about my work I find it hard to sell my work as I feel as if I’m selling myself & therefore find that I don’t promote myself very well …. I feel if I say look at this fantastic sculpture – look how unique and different it is , that it is boasting – so I let the galleries do the boasting for me.

I totally feel that what I’m doing now is what I should be doing , so although I like to experiment I’m happy doing what I do.

 

My studio is my happy place Eric built my studio in our back garden . It seemed huge when it was first built 18 foot x 12 foot – so nice and roomy – now you’d struggle to find any space! On the walls I have murals I have made, photos of my family, many photos of fraiser & several cartoons or inspirational sayings that I like. Fraiser has his own sofa in my studio so he can sleep away the day while I’m working. I have a log burner to keep me warm. My studio is a dirty space the floor is thick with resin – what I do is very messy & I can work without worrying about making a mess. I will sometimes go outside to do 10 minutes work & find I have been out there for several hours – times flies when I’m in my studio – as they say “time flies when you’re having fun”.

 

Lesley Andrew – Jewellery

Creativity is a real need. If I do not make work for a while I have to get back to my work bench.  Producing pieces that I think work encourages me to move on and to try new things.  Selling my work validates it.

I always have a sketch book to hand: particular shapes catch my eye – either in the world at large or at exhibitions, museum visits etc, wherever really, and I record them to see if they translate into forms suitable for an item of jewellery. I research, but I also believe in the importance of ‘play’ so I am always looking at materials and possible combinations of materials and shapes.

Inspiration is very important, but ideas also come out of the working process itself.  Working on one piece of jewellery can often lead to ideas for the next piece or for a range.

Idea lulls are not so much of a problem for me as a jeweller as a lot of my work is a result of a ‘what if’ kind of approach.  I look and see what I have got and try to look at things with a fresh eye.  I also experiment with new processes and test pieces. If I am working on a commission then the information that my client provides feeds my thought process.

 

I was quite artistically inclined when I was younger, but it was not until I did a fine art  degree as a mature student that I realised that this was what I wanted to do. Then I was a sculptor and installation artist.  Jewellery came later – and much smaller!

 

Being an artist gives me an enormous amount of pleasure (and anguish as well). It enables me to view the world aslant, to question  and to see potential in all sorts of unlikely places and objects. I became an artist in my fifties: it is possible to develop one’s creative side at any time of life.

All my work is one off.  If a client wants something repeated it will be similar but never exactly the same as the work they have seen.  For me the satisfaction is in creating individual pieces.  I do accept commissions which can be very rewarding, but they can also be tricky.

 

My marketing is fairly low key as I only produce a limited amount of work. I do show but much is done by word of mouth and I have regular customers for my work.  If money were no object I would use more expensive materials and would probably produce more.

 

For crafts people I think it is particularly hard because the general public has little appreciation of the time and effort involved in any work, and there is often an expectation that prices will echo those of high street stores.  Also there are a lot of other independent jewellers out there so there is a lot of competition.

 

Environment matters.  Being a jeweller I do not need much space, but whenever I start new work I like my space to be tidy and ordered with everything in reach. As I work my bench tends to get cluttered and messy and my actual working space reduces.  Clearing it again gives me time to assess what I have done and a new perspective of the work.

 

 

 

Belinda Norrington – Jewellery

I am  lucky enough to live on the edge of a nature reserve, replete with river, water meadows, small wooded areas, all of which border an open network of fields, footpaths and ancient drovers’ paths. It is this landscape that is the primary inspiration of my work – both the huge open spaces and skies but also, perhaps even more, the minutiae. It is often small finds and fragments of botanical material, perhaps leaves, bark, acorns, seedpods or twigs, that provide me with the patterns, textures and organic forms that inform my work. I love the intricacy of natural patterns, I am amazed by the innate balance and tactility of form and texture in botanical material, and I find myself strangely but happily compelled to translate and explore these things in metal and gemstones!

I keep the flow of creativity by walking and exploring. It is as simple as that. By walking, the eye has enough time to take in the natural world. For me, the physical action of walking seems to calm the mind to a point where one is more open to creative opportunity and heightened observation. Look at the way a child explores a wood, it is that act of engagement and openness to the environment that is the catalyst to new ideas for me. I collect botanic material and bring it back to my studio, (always collecting/picking responsibly). Often, and especially in the summer when it is warmer and dryer (hopefully!), I take a sketchbook with me and draw pieces that I don’t want to, or cannot, take home with me or sometimes just to make me look at it closer in situ. With the material I bring home, I usually photograph it, press it, sketch it or add it to collections I have in jugs to simply observe further. I like to use this natural material to emboss shapes and patterns onto sheet metal using my jeweller’s rolling mill, or occasionally I will have individual items cast using the lost wax method.

My kind of work with no inspiration energising it is dry manufacture. The initial design process all hinges on inspiration and exploration but work flowing from that inspiration gets it out into the world! And some ‘work’ feels more creative and closer to the source of inspiration, whilst other aspects are less interesting to do, but necessary. There is some dull graft in all work and it is the grit to the oyster I tell myself when I am doing my tax return!

If I ever do feel a lull in ideas, it’s back to walking, exploring and sketching. Also trawling the ever wonderful V and A and Natural History Museum! Forcing it is hopeless, but turning up each day ready to observe, take keen notice, be open and keep trying is key. When inspiration for design is low, do all the boring stuff that needs to get done anyway!

I have always enjoyed art and creating things but was at a school that treated it as a bit of an indulgence or not for the academically-minded. I had to find the confidence to refute that utterly.

Being an artist has taught me that there is beauty in the smallest thing, the tiniest fragment can hold a universe in it, (think of the golden ratio in a floret), and this has informed my life enormously. I have begun embracing the life changing fact that the small things in life will often turn out to be the big things, so don’t be in such a hurry that you miss them. Observation of beauty, it turns out, seems to be a key to contentment. Also, to be ‘in the flow’ creatively necessitates being fully in the moment and that feels like a triumph in this speed obsessed, multi-task orientated world. Being fully in the moment, not fussing over the past or future is a huge stress/anxiety reducer.

I have pieces that I repeat which I sell on my website, but I also do one-off pieces and bespoke commission work. I don’t see a conflict in doing both.

I sell and market my work via my own website and through social media. I also sell through several online and bricks and mortar galleries who promote my work via their chosen means. I also hold Private Views twice a year and participate in a few craft fairs and pop up events. If money was no object I would probably hire an agent to take over certain aspects of promotion, PR and sales to leave me more time to design and create.

I think in this increasingly high tech society there is an increasing market for ‘high touch’ handmade goods and works of art. It connects pieces we use, wear or have to decorate our living spaces, with real people, their vision and interpretation of the world, with a provenance and the pulse of human creativity. How new technologies and ancient skills will entwine in the world of art and craft is an interesting issue.

As an artist, I would love to find a kind and generous goldsmith who would be willing to mentor me and teach me new skills affordably! I am also committed to finding the lowest carbon footprint for my work and the most ethical supply chains I can.

I love porcelain and would be interested to learn some ceramics skills and perhaps bring it together with the jewellery making.

I have a studio in my home which is both incredibly practical at the moment and also problematic with all my hectic family life going on around me! I am developing the ability to zone in really well to the task in hand but one day would like an away from home studio I think.

 

Ray Mallaney – Porcelain Hand Carved Lamps

 

In order to sustain my creativity I find I need to have time to think.  My recent much looked forward to retirement from teaching means I can devote myself to my own work. I had a years sabbatical from teaching 4 years ago and it was a fantastic period where I experimented with porcelain and new ideas, where for the first time in years I could ‘play’ and afford (timewise) to make mistakes. When you teach even part-time, your ‘making-time’ is precious you don’t want to waste it on failures (or at least I don’t)!

 

I am a bit of a manic sketch book person, I work things out in 2D and do research etc. I like working in a sketchbook.

 

In terms of subject matter for my work, I have always tended to work in themes; shoes, wings/flight, Tarot…I don’t know what I’m doing at the moment…whether working in porcelain is the theme or the fact that I seem to be looking a lot at architecture. I do know I’m like a miner I dig away at something until I feel bored by it, then I know it is time to examine another theme.

 

At the moment I am still excited by what happens when you switch my porcelain pieces on…the way light changes them…so for the time being I will continue. To be honest I distrust ‘inspiration’….but I do go with intuition!  If I get really stuck I go to the Victoria and Albert…there is so much stuff of such brilliance there it pushes me out of the lull, or I make something I think I would like.

 

From mybackground….oldish very working class parents, secondary modern school…art was something done by posh people, the likes of us got jobs and did art for a hobby. I did that for 2 years and then hated it so much, my evening class sculpture teacher said I was good enough to try for art school. So I did….Wimbledon Foundation, degree at Middlesex.

 

I have done commissions, but only based on what I do (I made a double piece for Schroeder’s Bank in London, but it was something I was keen on anyway).  I did a garden fountain, years ago which was really hard work, and they changed the deadline date so I had to rush…it was a COMPLETE disaster…I didn’t take any money…in the end they gave me a case of wine! I needed it!

 

In terms of repeating work…NO it is always even SLIGHTLY different otherwise what’s the point…I’m not a machine…..besides which if I try to make something EXACTLY the same it never goes right, the best thing to do is aim for a ‘recreation’

 

I like selling, and would like to charge more but will have to build up to that.  The deal I made when I left art school 30 odd years ago was that I would not live from my work, but from selling my labour: initially shop work, then technician work, finally teaching, that way I was free to make what I wanted and would not have to throw 200 Mugs a week. Consequently I can price my work at what I am prepared to let it go for rather than what it might be worth in times of materials and labour OR what I think it is worth.

 

Carmela Kantorowicz – Ceramics

    Making ceramics is a very challenging disapline.  There is always something new to discover, a new technique, different materials.  There is always a challenge and I never tire of it. This sustains my creativity and drives me as an artist.

I usually start from a technique.  You have to understand the constraints involved and work within those.  From experience you discover what works and what doesn’t, what forms the materials will allow you to make, and what effects you can achieve.    I usually have a picture in mind of the end result, but getting there can often take a lot of time and effort.

It doesn’t happen often that I have a lull in the flow of ideas, I have more ideas than I have time to realise them.  If I’m really stuck, I just make something I have done before and often discover something new in the process, or find a way of improving it. One idea flows from another.

I’ve always enjoyed making things.  From a young age at home we were always knitting, sewing, embroidering, cooking, baking etc.  I enjoyed art and pottery at school, but because I was very academic and went to a grammar school, it didn’t seem the best path for me.  However, now I realise if I had understood myself better I would have been much happier if I had been able to take art and craft more seriously.  It took a long time before I had the opportunity to really learn about ceramics and spend time making.  These days  I’m always thinking about ceramics, but having a family makes it difficult to find as much time as I would like to devote to it.  There are a lot of distractions.  I also never seem to have enough space, and because certain processes need to be done outside, my work is very weather dependent.  In the winter it’s too cold to make very much.  I would love a beautiful big studio with everything I need.

I think that it’s always difficult from a commercial and financial point of view for artists, but I believe they do what they do because it fulfils a need in them to create and to express themselves.   I enjoy doing commissions  as long as they fit in with the existing body of work.  A lot of people ask for things not understanding the limits of the way I work.  It is very hard to repeat pieces exactly, especially with raku, as the final outcome is mostly out of your control.   I find selling and marketing detracts from the time spent making.  I like to make things that I find interesting and enjoy myself.  If I try only to please other people, I find it doesn’t work for me.  I do my best work making pieces I love and if other people love them too that’s great.   I find it quite hard to promote myself and my work.  It might not appear so, but I’m quite shy and don’t like a lot of attention.

I would like my work to speak for itself.

Alexandra Joelle – Jewellery Designer

 


I just love to create and seeing each piece come together is the most satisfying thing in the world.

I always design through experimentation, I couldn’t think of anything worse than being sat in-front of my sketchbook all day trying to come up with ideas from the back of my head that will never appear. So instead I start with the circle and have a play with cutting them into sections folding and then see what frame works I come up with.

If I have a lull in the flow of ideas I might start by making something I’ve made before, most of the time whilst I am absorbed in making a ring or something simple, I come up with a new flow of ideas.   I am constantly searching for inspiration; I always have my sketchbook in my bag in case I think of something on the go.  It basically takes over your life and never comes out of your head.  If I am stuck on how to make something I usually start dreaming about it.  Which is actually usually when I come out with some of my best ideas, so I keep a spare sketchbook right next to my bed!   My work is inspired by the idea of creating tension. All my pieces are built to create simplistic frame works to make the tension with the thread. I am also inspired by using different materials in my work I love working with thread maybe this goes back to my love of fashion design when I was younger. 

I’ve always loved making and drawing things from a young age, when I was little I would spend hours drawing fashion design’s, which for a long time is what I wanted to do.  But being in a family of Jeweller’s and being brought up in those surrounding’s my passions lead me into working with metal.

Although it isn’t reflected in my work I have a real love of history, eventually I would like to look into the past and take more inspiration from there. I also work in an auctioneer’s part time so I get to see a lot of old quirky Jewellery which can be really exciting!

My work environment is very important; I find it very therapeutic to sit with my headphones in without any distractions fiddling away with my pieces, I go into my own little world. I still do like to have people around me; I think being in a workshop on my own could get boring quickly its nice to have other people around to bounce ideas of each other. That’s what’s nice about university, you have a lot of people to bounce your ideas around, and it can be very inspirational.

 My heart’s desire is probably to have my own shop that’s full with my own designs, and to be able to employ and train others, as I think opportunities to train in the industry are very difficult to come by. I was lucky that I have my father to carry on training me, and others don’t always have the opportunity.  At the moment I am just taking everything as it comes, I am getting a good response to my work, so I hope to carry on and continue in developing my work. Having my own workshop would be lovely too! But I am lucky to have a family in the industry so I already have one set up in the corner of my fathers shop; this has saved me a lot of money.

I love working to commission, all of my work is repeatable and very versatile; all of pieces are available in many different colours on request, with combinations of either ribbon or chain.   If money was no object I think any artist could say they would do things differently, materials are very expensive as any Jeweller can tell you. I think the biggest difference is I would want to use gold, as it is personally my favourite material, so any commission pieces are most welcome!   As I am just starting out as an artist, money is in short supply, so marketing is something that I am only just starting to look at and will be pursued more as I go on.  

If I was going to learn another skill it probably would be to work more in textiles, I did textiles in my A ‘levels and have always had a passion for it, so more of a combination with textiles and metalwork, which my work does reflect already, I am looking into weaving and castings at the minute. But this is all a work in progress.

 

Jeremy White – Ceramics

I hate clutter, but my life is lived in a permanent state of clutter and untidiness from which my studio does not escape.   I try to keep it habitable, but somehow I seem to work better in chaos, although I take care to ensure that the finished piece of work is not sloppy.   My Studio is a small space (a Summerhouse in any other life) in the garden.   I look out onto trees and plants and I know that behind me is a stream, meadow, canal, fields and the Chilterns.   All of these feed my imagination and Creativity.

Inspiration is the nub of an idea, either a photograph, or preferably a landscape view ‘en plein air’, which will later germinate into a physical creation.  I also ‘need’ to work, either to tease out a pot from a vague idea.  The need to produce in a physical, tangible form, an idea which is rolling around in my mind sustains me as an artist and the need to make a living drives me, they feed off each other.  If it wasn’t in clay, it would need to be by some other process.  When  I need to develop new work,  I don’t often sit down and think “lets have a new idea”.   It is a process of osmosis where one piece or style of work leads onto or suggests a development to another stage.

Once I have an idea, I will sometimes make very rough  (and very poor) sketches, usually on scraps of paper which I later have to rescue from the recycle bin.  When working on the wheel new shapes, will develop from others, often by accident!  If I have a lull in the flow of new ideas.  I find going back to basics; either throwing 100 mugs, or simple hand building, usually stimulates the grey cells into doing something different!

 

I have always had creativity inside me, but it only blossomed into a concrete form around the age of 25.   I had wanted to be an actor.   At School I got 5% in Mock Science O Level and refused point blank to take the proper exam, and bugged everyone until I was allowed to do Art O level (for which I received my best marks).   Later Ceramics came into my life almost by accident, but I was hooked.   I built, literally, my first studio and immersed myself in making and selling Pots. I also returned to teaching, Ceramics, this time rather than English and Drama. After a period when I was teaching full time, my own creativity stopped and I had a need to do something completely different.   Many years later the call of the clay could no longer be resisted and I returned to full time Potting.  Now it informs my life!  It’s a visual response, by looking at everything from a different point of view, seeing ‘a pot’, potentially in every view or landscape.

 

With regard to commissions, I don’t really like them, unless the brief is VERY open.  When some one has said’ make me one like that’, they usually end up saying, ‘but its not same colour’ or ‘the shape is different’ as if the pieces were made on a production line and from moulds.  If I make thrown domestic ware then the work is repeatable, but less satisfying to do.   The open brief can be quite satisfying, but if the commission is not something that I enjoy doing then I am afraid that it takes a back seat in my list of priorities.

I don’t really enjoy the process of selling or marketing my own work.  ‘Artist and Makers’ Fairs, ( I don’t like the “Craft Market” scenario as it rather gets mixed up with knitted tea cosies and stuff my Mother used to make for Church Bazaars, which I hasten to add have their place in the order of things!), are my main source of direct outlet.   I take part in our County Open Studios fortnight, which I find interesting and rewarding.   I am delighted if Galleries are interested in taking/buying my work, although I dislike the process of having to present myself and my work for scrutiny.  If money were no object then I would play around with ideas more than I am able to do now, experiment and ‘play’ with different techniques.   I have a website, which I am very bad about keeping up to date, thankfully, my Webmaster is good at nagging me.   I don’t do twitter or Facebook.    Fortunately there will always be people who want to buy hand crafted work, and will pay for it, preferring that to the mass produced and significantly cheaper, items in various stores.   It is just a case of finding them!

 

Jenny Ayrton – Cast Glass

  Creating cast-glass is a fairly drawn-out process involving a number of stages. Initially I work with great attention to detail, however with the introduction of molten glass each piece takes on a life of its own, and often I have no idea what I have created until I open the kiln days later. It is this anticipation that drives me on to want to make more.

Sometimes one opens the kiln to find an unexpected success, more frequently things haven’t worked how I would like; depending on the deadline that I’m working towards I often feel more excited when it is the latter, if everything goes exactly as I expect then I quickly find myself getting bored.   I love problem-solving  and I think that it’s this that keeps my work evolving.  By the time I’m half-way into one mould I’ve usually identified an alternative way to make the next.

It’s so exciting when a new idea strikes. I begin with a rough sketch, I then spend ages puzzling over how best to approach it technically, and the finished piece evolves from there. I’m rather stubborn so if someone says that an idea can’t be achieved, or suggests a simpler but less effective approach, then I’m determined to do it my way!    When I reach a technical dead-end though, I find my dad incredibly helpful. He comes from a more scientific background (though he’s also very creative), and when talking through a project over a couple of beers he’ll often ask just the right question, or suggest an unusual solution. 

I recently came across a box full of my sketchbooks from the last 13  years, it was amazing flicking through to see doodles of uncompleted ideas. Having recently finished a foundation degree in applied arts many of these may take on a new life as I can imagine their potential in materials that I previously hadn’t considered. Over the last couple of years my work has taken a very noticeable turn towards a domestic theme, prior to that it was nautically inspired, I have no idea what it will be next!   The rest of my life certainly affects my art, so I suppose the opposite must be true. I like to think that I’m good at thinking of alternative solutions to life’s little problems, a similar approach to my mould making. 

Like so many artists I find getting out and about really helps when I’m low on ideas. I live in Devon so I’m very lucky to be surrounded by stunning moor, woods and coastline. I’ve also found that travelling by train is fascinating as it gives you an alternative perspective of towns and cities.

 I’ve always had a creative streak, from finger painting as a toddler, to collecting shells on the beach. As a teenager I found textiles excited me more than art lessons at school. When I was 18 I was split between a love of the sea, and a desire to be creative. After a few years afloat it was time for a change so I signed up for a course at Plymouth College of Art, and I haven’t looked back since!    I’ve also recently become a mum for the first time, whilst this has severely restricted my glass-casting time my daughter happily models a number of mummy-knitted outfits, and we’re having great fun getting messy with paint!

 

I am neither comfortable nor confident when marketing my work. For one thing I get very attached to each piece, though with some projects it’s very much a love-hate relationship. Initially it felt like I was selling a little bit of me, however I’m getting better at handing work over, and instead I see it as an opportunity to start on another piece.  At college we were told that to be a professional it’s vital to designate a substantial part of time each week to the business side of things, but somehow the hoovering and washing-up always seem more inviting!   

 
Last year I designed and made the trophies for the Association of Colleges Gold Awards which were presented at the House of Commons. In some ways it was a great experience, but the words ‘blood, sweat and tears’ would not be an understatement!  I would think twice before agreeing to make so many almost identical pieces on such a tight budget and deadline, however it would be lovely to work with customers to create individual pieces with personal meaning.

The introduction of new technologies in art interests me.   I’m not sure whether it will directly influence my work as I still really enjoy getting messy, but there are certainly some very exciting things happening in the glass-art
world.

I would love a bigger workshop with state of the art cold-working facilities, however I have recently started to rent time in the workshop at Teign Valley Glass, and it’s made me realise that having my own workshop could get rather lonely… so totally blowing the budget I think a fully equipped multi-purpose workshop to share with all my artistic friends!

Casting is quite a messy process however it helps to keep things fairly tidy and to clean up as you work (though my husband would tell you my workshop is a tip, I know where everything is!). Much of the equipment I use can be found in a standard kitchen (though not in ours as it tends to migrate to the garage never to be seen again!). So long as I’m inspired and there’s something good on the radio I’m quite happy, I’ve even been known to break the ice on the outside sink to rinse out my plaster bucket!