Jewellery: Wearable Glass. 2017

In October 2016 I was invited by the National Glass Centre to be part of a collaborative project involving eight jewellers and four glass artists.  Each jeweller was paired with one of the four glass artists to produce jewellery made from glass.  I had the pleasure of working with James Maskrey, highly respected for his mastery of hot glass.  

My fellow artists included jewellers - Christopher Thompson Royd, Emmeline Hastings, Maud Traon, Chris Boland, Heather Woof, Kaz Robertson and Kate Haywood, and glass artists - James Maskrey, Ayako Tani, Joanne Mitchell and Angela Thwaites.  

With only ten days of studio time, the pressure was on.  My initial idea was to make glass helmets, but this was too ambitious.  After throwing some ideas around, Jim and I began playing with a simple vortex shape, repeated in varying sizes and configurations.  I was suddenly grateful for my experience at glass blowing as a student, which meant I could assist Jim in the studio.  Whilst he was shaping the molten glass I was preparing a lip-wrap (the colour you see around the rim) or poised ready to blow down the iron.  Working with Jim was fascinating and an absolute pleasure.  

In the spirit of trying new things, I was keen to avoid using metal in the pieces, but another material was needed for assembling the two large necklaces.  Felt seemed the clear choice, it's wooly texture complimenting the glossy sheen of the glass.  The most complicated and laborious piece was the blue collar - a single vortex that needed to flex and mould around the neck and shoulders.  Jim and I gathered clear blue glass over opaque white, and blew a large bell shape, finished with an orange lip-wrap.  We cut off the top with a circular, diamond saw and then sliced it into sections.  Grinding and polishing the edges took days.  Using crystal glass cutting tools I made grooves in each section so that I could stitch them to a felt base.  With a silver, lace-up catch, this is the only piece to incorporate metal.  The brooches are secured by pushing a plastic disc from the inside of the fabric through the hole in the centre - an idea conceived by jeweller Herman Hermsen, who kindly gave me his permission to use it.

Thank you to James Maskrey, the National Glass Centre and Ruthin Craft Centre for this wonderful opportunity.