Heart of Glass

Sarah Wade of Garage Glass Studio is back this December with her charming fused glass products.  We asked her about her making process and how she got started.

My interest in fused glass developed from my interest in stained glass which I did as a hobby for a number of years. At one course I went on there was a kiln and we had a go at fusing glass. I was hooked, and ever since I have been fascinated with the things you can do with glass and a kiln.

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Warm glass or kiln-formed glass is the working of glass by heating it in a kiln. The processes used depend on the temperature reached and range from fusing and slumping to casting but doesn’t go much above 800 degrees centigrade. This differs from hot glass, where the artist works with molten glass with a temperature around 1000 degrees.

For the first few years my interest had to remain a hobby as I had a day job as an accountant, but four years ago I gave up that job and soon afterwards Garage Glass Studio was born. I have two small kilns in our garage and the glass is created there, hence the name.

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I did a City and Guilds level 3 in decorative glass course at night school, and I have been on a number of courses to learn specific techniques of glass making, but other than that I am self taught, adapting techniques I have learnt to create the images that I want to make, and learning how glass performs at different temperatures. I am particularly fascinated by the effects are created through the reactions between the chemicals in different glasses as they heat up.

 

Most of the inspiration for my work comes from the world around me, from the animals and plants that I see in the countryside in West Yorkshire. I love taking my wares to craft fairs and sharing it with people. It feels great when they look at your table and smile.

 

Everyone Loves Bags!

Sue Turrill of Nuthatch Designs will be back at Design@HEART this December with her beautiful tweed bags.  Here she is talking about her work:

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When I was a small child I would spend weeks in the summer with my two siblings staying with our Grandmother and her two sisters.  That was when I really started creating things, using embroidery, sewing and knitting.  I remember spending hours with my Great Aunt Mary embroidering daisies around the edges of tray cloths, and I loved it.  Even from a young age needlecraft for me has always been a way of relaxing whilst producing something unique and useful.

I’ve since wanted to combine traditional methods I’d learnt with modern ways of life.  Everyone has some sort of electronic device and it seemed the obvious choice to incorporate my designs with natural fabrics to produce unique covers and cases to protect them.  Shortly after starting my business a good friend of mine said “why don’t you make bags? Everyone loves bags?”.  So after a bit of thinking I decided to give bags a go as well.  She was right of course and I love making them too!

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Natural fabrics are important to me as they combine durability with practicality meaning they will last but can also be recycled into something new in time.  I love the tactile nature of wool and the properties it has for retaining shape and repelling dirt. I’m sure my love of natural fabrics is in part linked to my love of nature.  I’ve always been drawn to wildlife and the countryside so the imagery I create on the smaller purses represents this part of my life,and it’s also why my shop name is Nuthatch Designs – it’s just my favourite bird.

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Wherever possible I try to champion British manufactured natural fabrics, and design and handmake the bags and cases I sell.   I absolutely love the heritage wool fabric Harris Tweed which is only produced under licence in the Outer Hebrides and now includes many brighter modern colourways from upcoming young weavers. In themselves they are a thing of beauty and I feel very lucky to be able to use them.

Nuthatch Designs will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 8th December at the HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN 

 

 

 

 

Mei Tai, Bei Dai or Mei Dai? However you spell it, Tag Togs is the place to get them!

Amanda Green of Tag Togs is taking over the blog today to talk about her business making babywear and accessories.  

From a young age I have always sewn things, when I was very young I use to get any scraps of fabric from my mums sewing projects and cut and hand sew them into clothes for my Sindy and Barbie dolls. My mum and nan then taught me how to sew and I started making clothes for myself, I did sewing at school for GCSE and A’Level before it all got grouped in with other design things, I helped make clothes for the school theatre productions, and so it seemed like a natural progression to go to uni and do a textile based degree. The sewing stopped there, the degree I did was technology based with a lot of practical but no sewing. I picked sewing back up about 10 years later when I worked as a factory manager for a pillow and mattress protector manufacturer, the ladies who did all the sewing showed me how to make the products. Now I have moved onto babywear which is a bit more fiddly than making a mattress protector, but it is a lot of fun especially when I go fabric shopping, there is too much choice!

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I started my business after my first child in 2009, the company I worked for closed down, we made mattress protectors and pillows and I ran the business for the owner, once it had closed I decided to start my own business up doing the same thing. This has now progressed onto my babywear brand. I started making the baby carriers in 2013 when my second child was about 6 months old.

I originally went to uni and did a textile technology degree, this included spinning, weaving, CAD, dying and finishing and factory management, I think all these elements of my degree and experience in various companies have helped me to run my own business.
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I have a unit in Milnsbridge, Huddersfield which is great although not ideal, the unit is set out in small offices, I would ideally like one large room with all my sewing machines in together, I am looking at re-designing the layout of the unit which will mean knocking down walls, this is something I am putting off at the moment – the mess!!

The type of baby carrier I make is called a Mei Tai or Bei Dai or Mei Dai. It has a main panel which holds the baby and 2 shoulder straps and a waist strap which ties the carrier to the parent/carer. The carrier can be personalised with a patterned accent panel on the front and the back so this would then make it a completely reversible carrier. I also make baby bags or babywearing bags , and baby clothes which co-ordinate and match the carriers.

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I love being in control of my work hours, (to a certain degree), one of the reasons I wanted to have my own business was to be my own boss and enable me to spend time with my children and attend school events, which is not always possible when you work for someone else.

There’s some aspects of it though, that I’d happily hand over. I find the marketing difficult, I would love someone to come and do all of that bit for me. It can also be a bit lonely sometimes, especially when you need to bounce ideas off someone or ask for someones opinion.

I would like to get my babywear into a few more shops, currently I have some products in 2 local craft shops and would like to increase this and go a bit further afield.

Amanda will be at Design@HEART on this coming Saturday 9th June at Headingley HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN

I never intended this to be something for other people to see

Photographer Kelly Marsh takes over the blog this week, ahead of her first appearance at Design@HEART in June.

I’m a self-taught photographer. I never intended this to be something for other people to see. It’s always been something I have primarily done for myself.  But then it turned into a business!  I guess you could say that it really took off for me when I was joking about holding a gallery show for my birthday and then suddenly people were encouraging me and I ended up getting fully funded on Kickstarter to put on a show which I did in October.

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I take photos because it works as a kind of mindfulness meditation for me allowing me to refocus on the world rather than myself. I‘ve been diagnosed with acute anxiety and I find that when I take photos my mind is quietened and I am able to just enjoy what I am doing. This means that a lot of the time I can’t remember where I last put my phone but I can tell you the location (as far as I ever knew it) and what I was doing there for every photo I have ever taken.

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My workspace can be anywhere. If the weather is bad outside I will take pictures indoors, of my home or my clothes – whatever has caught my eye at the time. A lot of my photos and my inspiration is centred on nature. As an engineer I spent a lot of time learning about how nature has optimised itself to be strong and durable and I’m always fascinated about how this contrasts with how beautiful nature is at the same time. I also love a good steam train!

I think one of the things I love most about doing this is that I love finding common ground with people. Even if people don’t come and buy something they will often comment on my pictures, telling me which are their favourites or memories they have associated with what I have taken. Sometimes I get to learn a cool bit of history about Leeds or a cool place to go shoot too.

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The best bit of the whole process is the show. I’ll have an exhibition in HEART Centre at the time of the fair and its going to be 20 photos. It’s super stressful at the moment trying to plan out everything that I want to include and what I want to say but I know as soon as it goes up on the wall I’ll feel really happy to share my perspective with people.

My all time fan is my partner. He is always pushing me to share my photos and is my biggest supporter. If I am struggling with anything he is the one I turn to for advice. He does the framing for me, because I can’t get the prints in straight. He also bought a whole bunch of my photos and put them all round the house!

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There’s some projects that I would like to do that will require a lot of planning and a space to display them once they are done. I’d like to do a project focusing on mental health and highlighting the difference between how we feel and how we are perceived. I’d also like to do a set of photos around female beauty and what it means to be a woman but these will require me to get a lot of practice in photographing people. I’m hoping to start the planning and practice in the new year after I have finished my PhD. As for the business side of things- I’m hoping to have sold enough images that I could buy a wide angled or macro lens for my camera.

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Kelly will be at Design@HEART on Saturday 9th June.  She sells various different sized prints, framed or unframed and is also happy to take commissions based on a specific theme. Don’t forget to check out the exhibition of her full exhibition while you are in HEART.

 

 

“Probably the thing I enjoy most is playing” Liz Samways talks jewellery and printmaking

Liz Samways’ work will be familiar to those of you who’ve been coming to craft fairs at HEART for a while. A jeweller and print maker, her work reflects her love of landscape and the natural world.   We caught up with her to find out how she got started and her practice.

I’ve always wanted to be a jeweller, ever since visiting Camden Market in my teens and seeing all the jeweller types who had lifestyles which seemed very exotic. While I was doing my ‘real’ jobs it was always there in the background. When my youngest child had gone to nursery I thought I would give it a go professionally.

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Before then I had studies History of Art as my first degree, worked in industrical canteens, factories, Asprey on Bond Street, an Estate Agency, in sales and marketing for Royal Mail, and then retrained in horticulture and garden design and as an ESOL teacher. Quite a list!

To a certain extent I’m self taught, but I did evening classes at Leeds College of Art and Swarthmore with Roger Barnes, during the mid-nineties for jewellery, more recently weekend workshops for printmaking. There’s also been a lot of helpful friends offering technical advice and suggestions along the way.

My first makers’ fair was back in 2011. It was quite a landmark, taking my work out there to the public. Since then, there’s been many more memorable moments: getting my work accepted ito the Craft & Design Gallery in Leeds, where for years I had admired other people’s work, and later being invited to take part in their “Walk In The Park” exhibition. Driving over the hills from Skipton back to Leeds after my first “Art In The Pen” event, having met loads of enthusiastic customers, having fellow makers as good friends, and realising I had finally become the sort of person I’d seen at events when I went as a customer; and my first trade fair which was incredibly daunting, but with a lot of help and advice from other makers I managed it and did well.

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The most important consideration for me, when designing a piece of jewellery, is wearability! Will the piece stay the ‘right way up’ for instance, in the case of bangles or stud earrings, ….how will it wear over time? Will it feel comfortable on the body? Also, Will it look good up close and from a distance? Is it something I haven’t seen before? Can I see my customer (we should all have one in our mind’s eye) wearing it? And of course, very importantly, is it within my technical capabilities?!

I use engraving, etching and rolling to make the textures in the metals I use, then cut and solder to layer together. Although I do work things out in sketchbooks, I find a lot ends up as lists of words! (working out technical details and the order in which to work). I hardly ever sketch out a finished design which I work towards, it’s usually a more random process. Often I just have bits of cut up and textured metal around me and I play around putting shapes together till something looks good – I maintain that this is a legitimate design technique as I learnt it through my garden design training! To finish the piece and add the darkness I like, I use traditional patination techniques, selectively polished for contrast, and sealed with a wax.

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For the enamelling I use a small kiln and build up layers and layers of colour in various combinations, remembering to make notes as, although I use a lot of different colours, they come from a fairly limited and subtle palette so it’s easy to forget what I’ve used! I work in much the same way as I build layers of ink in prints, through overlapping, masking, and sometimes adding in other elements such as metal leaf or wire.

Probably the thing I enjoy most is playing around! The fact that inspiration is everywhere and I have a legitimate business reason for experimenting with shapes and textures, learning new techniques and meeting lots of other creative people.
The thing I’m not so keen on is juggling orders and the logistics of producing several pieces at the same time, though my experience working in various factories in my youth comes in surprisingly handy when planning my working processes.

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I started off because I’m a terrible magpie and I wanted to make things for myself. It was later that it developed into something I thought I could make a successful business out of. I love working in print and jewellery because there are so many ways they influence each other, and I constantly have ideas working both ways. I love the unpredictability of the surfaces involved in both processes.

I started the business to justify how many tools I’d bought!

Our next fair is only 9 weeks away, and there’s so much lovely stuff from very talented artists and craftspeople.  So for the next few weeks, we’ll be handing over the blog to some of them, to tell us about themselves and their work.  Today, Helen Drye of Silver and Stone Jewellery Design talks about her art work and her business.

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I started Silver and Stone Jewellery Design in July 2012. I did the classic, turning a hobby into a business. I often say it was to justify how many tools I’d bought – if you craft you’ll understand! I love teaching people, it gives me a wonderful sense of pride that people can have a mini ‘retreat’, close off from the outside world and create something stunning. When I’m not creating jewellery and teaching a like to do embroidery. Just small pieces and very free style, but it keeps my fingers occupied!

My studio used to be at home, but I’d get an idea in the middle of the night and get up and make it! Now its near home, but far enough that I can’t sneak off. Its just next to Skipwith Common Nature Reserve, a beautiful woodland and common land, with rare breads roaming around. You can wander through the common and see deer, black sheep, and then have a pony walk in front of you! It is truly stunning, but shhhh – don’t tell anyone. You’ll see the trees in my designs, to me there is something mystical about the Common. This area has been common land for centuries, but during the second world war it was a RAF training base. You can still see some of the remains, but the trees are reclaiming their land.

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I produce silver jewellery, primarily made using precious metal clay, a silver that can be moulded before its fired, and becomes 99.9% silver, known as fine silver. Silver and Stone reflects the main materials I use, silver obviously, but gemstones come into my designs too. Labradorite and moonstone in the main, but others sneak in when I’m teaching. You’ll see my logo features a big heart with hearts inside – I just love what I do!

I started my career in local government and I loved it. I was developing businesses and each day was different. I helped lots of people start their own business, and always knew I’d have a business of my own. When I had my daughter I went back to work, but found I also had a lot of evening meetings. One day I realised I was passing her from one set of childcare to another, and so I left, just like that! It was hard, but I’m a believer in following your heart, and I don’t regret it.

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Most of my jewellery design was self taught. I did do some classes originally, but then decided to develop my own skills, mainly because the classes were expensive and I couldn’t afford them. I still invest in my own development – I love doing classes with other crafts and see what I can transfer into metal clay, and love meeting and taking part in classes with people throughout the world. I am certified to teach by both Art Clay and Precious Metal Clay. Not many people can say that!
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I love being my own boss. There’s no office politics, and no one else to please. My deadlines are my own and my plans are my own. I can have creative time out or get stuck into my accounts. If my daughter is unwell, I can drop everything and be there for her. I thought I’d be lonely working for myself, but I’m not. I like my own company, and when I run workshops, I have lots of interaction and lots of laughs with the students.

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My favourite materials are Precious metal clay – the Flex version. It relatively new, but I can use it for lots of techniques, that are a bit quirky. Not many people use it to its full capacity – I’m aiming to ! Its the only metal clay you can dry to create a paper style silver which is easy to bend and flex, to create something unique.

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My ambitions for the future? I’d like to be seen as a master teacher and have taught in USA and Europe. I’d like to have a range of jewellery in a number or high end galleries and museums. I’d also really like to have my eyesight to be able to do all of those things.

Silver and Stone Jewellery Design will be at Design@HEART’s summer fair on 9th June 2018 10am-4pm at HEART Centre, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds LS6 3HN.