I have always been interested in the visual arts since childhood when I was rarely without a notebook and pencil to record my thoughts and surroundings. After taking the art foundation course at West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield, I studied Decorative Arts at Nottingham Trent University where I specialised in glassmaking gaining a first class honours degree.
I made a collection of cast glass work for my degree finals, but during the three years I had a chance to try fusing, slumping, enamelling, etching and glassblowing, as well as learning to apply original designs to other media. After graduating I began to experiment with the trail of empty alcohol and other bottles abandoned in the wake of my teenage childrens’ parties! It took a long time to learn how to control the idiosyncrasies of bottle glass, but I was pleased with the results.
I believe in ‘making do and mending’, and take great pleasure in making something beautiful from rubbish. My cast work was made from lead crystal discarded by British glass manufacturers when they moved their production to China.
The main techniques I use involve kiln work: fusing and slumping, enamelling and applying my decal designs to any glass not suitable for fusing. My range of work varies according to the recycled materials available. I use the bottle shapes to dictate the pattern on the items, cutting transversely for circles and arcs, and lengthwise for straight lines. I also smash the glass to obtain dots, and crush it for ‘frit’ or powdered glass, which looks like ice when fired. The range of temperatures I use in my kiln are from 740◦ – 860◦ centigrade.
Following William Morris’ principle that you should never keep anything in your house that you do not believe to be beautiful or useful, I like to make items which were both practical and decorative, and being made from recycled materials, affordable.
I find the colours of bottle glass exciting, being those of nature; greens, blues, yellows, oranges and browns…. an amazing range of hues with many shades of each colour.
I like to experiment with all sorts of recycled glass, even light bulbs and optical lenses. Discarded double glazing units are the main constituent of my work, forming the basic structure of many pieces.
My design inspirations include Victorian tile patterns (I love patterns, I find their predictability reassuring), moulded and carved stone and wood decorations from historic buildings, and natural forms….. flowers, leaves, and crystals.
‘Clerestory Glass,’ my business name, is taken from the name for the high windows along the nave of a mediaeval church. I designed my degree collection of cast glass from studies of the Minster Church, Southwell. The misty texture of the glass was evocative of the quality of the rays of light shining down through the clerestory windows. ‘Clere’ and ‘story’ suggest working creatively in a transparent medium.