I was only thinking the other morning, I have a lot of new 'friends' and customers and they are probably thinking 'who is she? Where did she spring from? So I thought I would share my journey with you. Obviously it's not my autobiography, even I'd glaze over after the first few pages - this is more 'edited highlights'. I am available for 'Who Do You Think You Are' and 'This Is Your Life' but I doubt a book will follow, even if they say every one of us has a book in us.
I've been making 'something' since I was 5, but you don't want to hear about all that! I luckily had practical parents with a ‘can do’ attitude.
What about now, how did I get to now?!
In a nutshell? I got bored at a quiet craft fair. I was running a stall for someone else, and had nothing to do. Everyone around me was making something, I didn't 'make'. So I changed that and started making simple bead jewellery. That was way back when in the last century.
If jewellery was work, then I needed a hobby. A book on Shibori dyeing allowed me to splash dye around with no one tell me I was doing it wrong – deep joy. Now I had both textiles and jewellery to make and sell. And no hobby!
Long walks along beautiful beaches, collecting sea glass, can I make jewellery from this? Yes I can – if walking along a beach, with the sun on my back and only the cry of the gulls for company constitutes a day at work, then that’s the job for me! Sea glass jewellery it would be.
Collaborative work with another artist led to rolls of velvet moving in – she had the know-how, I had the sewing machine. She moved onto other things and I camped out in the library reading anything I could on devoré and decolouring techniques on velvet. By now it was clear I could not do all this in the kitchen – if nothing else it’s too easy to stir the dye spoon in the pasta, so I decamped outside to a garden studio. And then another studio. I’ve had to stop at two – no garden left!
This one is the original Blue Box Studio - it is tiny!
Knowing I would try my hand at most things arty, friends asked me to make up the numbers for a glass bead making day. Four of us sat down to see what this was all about, two of us then signed up for the short course and only one of us, me, actually settled down to make beads. There are more colours of commercial glass than sea glass. And sitting over a hot flame is warmer than a windy beach in winter. That’s my excuse.
And, with my love of keeping warm, I decided, with a heavy heart, that rising fabric costs and competition from cheap imports flooding even the 'handmade' market, I would, for now, discontinue getting dye everywhere. Now I had spare space which I needed to fill. Not for long! I had wanted to try fusing glass for a while but my little kiln limits what I can do, so when a kiln was offered for the right price (ignore size, what has that to do with it?) I bought it, then some glass and started working with glass sheets instead of rods. We named her Delilah (after the Tom Jones song - 'why? why? why Delilah?!'), she disliked the long car journey home and died, thankfully we managed to resurrect her but she has her 'moments' of non-co-operation.
On the whole she is well behaved - we have 'understanding talks' and 'meaningful discussions' and she rewards me with beautiful things worthy of any home. Some of my items are seasonal and 'made to order' repeatable items, but largely, with all my work, what you see is what I have. How many of us have said 'I wish I got that when I saw it'? I'm still saying it!!
These gorgeous Christmas coasters (although I think the fairy princess has a job throughout the rest of the year, what little girl wouldn't love her?) and the Christmas themed decorations are limited short runs, limited by the amount of materials I have and my time, once fairs start and orders taken, to fill the kiln with more.
I think the hearts make wonderful love tokens, or perhaps something a little different for wedding favours?
So, that’s it in a nutshell. I work with sea glass, glass rods and glass sheet to make jewellery, beads and home accessories. Have a look in my Etsy shop and see what takes your fancy.
I believe that even handmade work, with added passion from the artist, needs to be a sensible price for the item - I collect art glass perfume bottles - but even I stop at times at say 'how much?' There is a finite limit to all budgets. My ethos is 'making the unaffordable affordable........', but remember you are paying any artist for their time, a life time's expertise, their imagination, and in return you get a little piece of their soul and passion. And your car mechanic / electrician / decorator (examples - other trades are available) charge a lot more per hour than most artists - we are all experts in our field and yet artists are more likely to hear 'I could do that' (I expect you can. but it wasn't your idea it was mine) and 'I could make that for far less' (perhaps you can but are you going to and do you have access to the £000s materials and equipment needed to do it?). I can paint a room, but at the end of the day it will take me longer than my decorator, and for what he charges I could be more gainfully employed and less likely to destroy the carpet with painted footprints. With the right tools, anyone can have a stab at most things, but do most of us have the right tools to do the job?
And for those who will go ahead with a plan to DIY - I do have 'Round Tuits'! It might help get the job done?