Glass is one of the most beautiful and versatile materials I know. Full of contradictions it can be liquid or solid, fragile yet strong, appear weightless yet have substance, be invisible yet have structure and form. The inherent qualities of glass allow me to use colour and light in a tangible physical form. Its transparency enables me to create interest and hopefully a bit of mystery too. By building up the layers I am able to create a story if you like, each layer revealing something new but also obscuring some of what's gone before. I like the idea that things may only be discovered after time; the way you can revisit a painting or film or re-read a book and the pleasure one gets from discovering new elements previously undiscovered.
I started working with glass about 8 years ago having originally studied Decorative Arts at Camberwell and then a BA in Printed Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art. The technique I use is known as 'warm' glass or 'fused' glass, which involves cutting, shaping and layering the sheet material before firing it in a kiln. The glass is heated to a temperature of about 830°C (slightly below melting point) so that it fuses together. More often than not the pieces are reworked after firing. A complex pendant will be re-shaped and re-fired up to four or five times in order to achieve the desired effect.
My aim is to create original and exciting pieces using techniques I've discovered and then developed over the years. Being mainly self taught I have had to find my own ways of achieving the results I want and some of my most interesting creations have come about through going against conventional wisdom, although luckily I only discovered that after the event. Underpinning all of this is the unpredictability of the firing process. Opening the kiln after a 'burn' always induces both feelings of excitement and anxiety. Although I can control the results to a degree, the unexpected can always occur due to the nature of the material, chemical reactions, slight variations in temperature or for a myriad other unaccountable reasons. But then of course, this is what makes the process exciting, sometimes frustrating but always interesting.
When I'm not in my studio I work in the Art and 3D Design Department at Croydon High School, an independent day school for girls. I'm one of a number of staff in an innovative department who provide a diverse and exciting curriculum. It's a job I love, hugely rewarding, full of variety and the girls are a constant source of wonderment to me.