Glenn uses a technique called 'lampworking' which involves directly heating rods of premium glass in a super-hot flame of propane and oxygen. Most of the beads are formed onto a 'mandrel' - a thin steel rod coated in clay - which is removed to make the hole though the middle! But lately a lot of Glenn’s work is being free-formed without any mandrels, with hot glass directly onto not-so-hot glass. Trickier to do to stop the whole lot melting into one big lump, but sculpturally more interesting. Glenn tells us more:
I live in Witham, just outside Chelmsford, in a quiet bit of Essex. Witham has existed since Saxon times and used to be a stage-coach stop point. A famous occupant was Dorothy Sayers. Although it suffers the usual small town problems, if I walk two minutes from my door I’m surrounded by fields and wildlife where I can recharge my batteries.
I consider I’m dull! An old fashioned geek, living with a struggling writer and two cats. I've always made things, done various odd things from selling artists restoration and gilding materials, to tropical plants. As for the things I make, I have two sides, the sensible side that loves colours and making pretty beads, to the mad inventor/artist who makes quirky things like solid glass radio valves.
So which has been my favourite piece? That varies. A while back I would have said the coil spiral lantern bead I made as that was a real struggle to get right, and make the shape and style I’d dreamt up. It was quite satisfying the other day to find a box of early rejects and see that I really had got better (I’m very bad, all I ever see are the imperfections). Lately though I would say it was the little tiny worlds, especially the cloudy worlds which was a bit of a eureka moment, I so need to make more of these! There is a randomness about the effect, so I am never sure how they will look until they are finished.
I've been making things since I was a teenager. I’ve been doing woodwork and gilding for ages, resin, I’ve even ended up making the odd hat (badly!). I'm quite happy to try anything but I’ve known for ages I wanted to work with glass, although it’s only been in past few years I discovered I could afford the equipment to melt it! As soon as I did I realised this was the medium for me.
Various things inspire me and I especially love the Victorian and Edwardian design ethos. Then, there was a pride in what was made; look at buildings and machines made in that era, there is no practical advantage to putting swirls and flowers on support struts except to make them beautiful. I remember working in a garden centre and a guy pointing to the old 1910 gasometer behind the yard and asking ‘would anyone now bother putting those finials on top?’. Also, the colours of the glass themselves is often enough to get me excited, there is such a choice and so many effects. Once I think I’ve seen it all someone comes out with something more exciting – tonight I got an email from a US factory for a limited colour I have been DROOLING over! If I can stay this excited, then I hope I can keep coming up with new ideas. I find looking at other glass artists work inspiring, and encourages me to ‘raise my game’ and do better and more challenging work
I’m not really very good at promoting myself, but I don’t think artists tend to be; we’re too self critical, I have boxes of stuff I won’t sell because I don’t feel it’s good enough; see! I’m affording promoting myself! I do blog at www.SteamPunkGlass.blogspot.com . I also twitter a bit, but am a bit random on that but can be followed as steampunkglass.
My work can be found on my own website www.SteamPunkGlass.com which has all the latest updates on the on-line shops I use. I sell a few bits on there, but I am doing a lot in my Folksy shop and now in my MISI shop. I am also on ETSY but am not really actively listing on there at the moment, but will do again later in the year.
When I am not creating I'm into sleeping!, occasionally cooking - I’m really into Japanese cooking at the moment – hot foods rather than sushi which I can’t make well – and Asian & Japanese live action movies (not really a manga fan), especially the horrors!