Jessamy Kelly talked about her Master’s scholarship at Edinburgh Crystal and the routes she has since taken which have brought her back full circle to Edinburgh College of Art at the recent ‘400 Years of Glass’ Conference in Edinburgh.
Having completed a BA in ‘Glass and Ceramics’ at the University of Sunderland in 2001, I went on to complete a Masters in ‘Glass Design’ at Edinburgh College of Art. This involved an Industrial placement at Edinburgh Crystal as a student glass designer. This opportunity allowed me to develop a creative and experimental approach within the reality of a commercial environment. I then went on to work as an in-house glass designer for Edinburgh Crystal until 2006, when the business closed. I continue to work on a freelance basis as a glass designer for industry; this collaboration informs and influences my studio work in a unique and innovative way. I set up Jessamy Kelly Glass in 2002 and a second company called Juo Ltd in 2006 with glass designer Joanne Mitchell. I also work as a freelance industrial glass designer; this collaboration with industry helps to inform my creative practice. In 2009, I completed a practice-based PhD at the University of Sunderland that focused on the combination of glass and ceramics in studio practice. After the completion of my PhD, I returned to Edinburgh College of Art as an artist in residence, which in a way led me full circle back to the educational institution that initially brought me to Scotland. It was an honour to take part in this residency programme which helped me to further develop my artistic practice.
Anyway back to what brought me to Scotland, after graduating I worked at Edinburgh Crystal as an in-house glass designer for 4 years, until the factory closed after a major fire in 2006. Initially, I was rather anxious that, as a designer, I would be handing over the actual hands on contact and making elements of the work, but in fact having people in the factory making my designs for me was like having an extra 20 pairs of hands to work with. It gave me the opportunity and freedom to broaden my designs, to research and develop ideas within Edinburgh Crystal’s production facilities, allowing a creative and experimental approach. I learnt a great deal at that time, especially from the craftsmen who created the glass in the factory.
For me, there is still a hidden story in the skilled factory workers of Edinburgh Crystal, the glassblowers, the cutters and the engravers. Their great passion, talent and skill will always remain an inspiration to me; it was such a unique experience. From day one as a young art student going into a factory environment the first lesson I learnt is that you can’t work alone. I can vividly recall sneaking into the factory early with the workers to ensure my work was seen to first. Memories still remain of my time there, arguing with the management, fighting for precious overtime pay for my glassblowers at the weekend to blow my degree show work. Sometimes you might have found me hiding out in store cupboards trying to get some peace from the hectic pace of the factory. My experiences at Edinburgh Crystal were not always easier however I think they influenced and formed my work in a unique and unrepeatable way. The designs I created there and the changes, rises and falls that I experienced in the factory will stay with me forever. I could go on with my anecdotes but the over ruling memory for me was the skilled factory workers, my colleagues, my friends – the true face and craft of Edinburgh Crystal.
It was at Edinburgh Crystal that I met my business partner Joanne Mitchell (also a glass designer) and in 2006 we set up Juo Ltd, creating contemporary fused art glass for galleries and private commissions. We produce a lot of work for public buildings, colourful, specially designed pieces for corporate commissions. We’re both designers as well as glass artists, which gives us a unique insight into the requirements of our customers, interpreting their ideas in a way which will match their budgets. We learnt a lot about the design process and trend forecasting at Edinburgh Crystal, developing cost effective production to meet a definite price point. We design and launch new ranges for Juo every six months. Juo plays an important and successful role as “a practice that supports our further practice,” we wanted an independent brand to create commercial studio pieces with a distinct identity that were focused at specific ‘interior design conscious’ clientele. This allows us both to take an entirely different path with our own studio work. It’s been extremely beneficial as it has enabled us both to work in two very different styles, in parallel. It makes work varied and interesting and it’s good to have a partner to collaborate on projects with (we both have different skills and challenge each other in different ways).
I wear a few different hats, as well as having the dual aspect to my glass work and businesses; I am also involved with a number of organisations and companies. I co-curated the delightindesign exhibition at the Design&Made Gallery in Newcastle and ‘Migrate: 30 Years of Scottish Glass’ for the Scottish Glass Society (SGS) of which I am an active board member and Vice Chair. I am also on the board of the National Glass Centre and the Contemporary Glass Society for whom I work one day a week as their marketing and events coordinator.
I like to describe myself as a designer-maker, working in the two mediums of glass and ceramics; since my undergraduate degree I have worked with both materials in juxtaposition. I gained my BA in Glass and Ceramics at the University of Sunderland in 2001, I was the only person on the course who was permitted to specialise in both ceramics and glass - my current interests have all flowed from there. In February 2009, I completed my doctoral research into the combination of glass and ceramics in a hot state, within studio practice. Glass and ceramics are material with many common qualities; they are both made in similar ways, and transformed into functional objects. But it is their transparency – translucency and their reaction to light which intrigues me. The qualities of the materials when light passes through them to reveal inner luminosity inspires me to combine them and to examine their relationship in my work. My research examined the combination of glass and ceramics in a hot state within my studio practice and offers a potential new route of practice for artists working in glass and ceramics. Renowned for being difficult to combine, glass and ceramics are usually regarded as being incompatible due to differences in structure; through my research I have managed to combine them in a hot state to create a unique series of artworks. Very few artists work in both materials, and whilst my thesis presents substantial, specialist reading, I hope that it will have an impact on future practices for artists working in glass and ceramics.
Based on the handcrafted sensitivity of craft practice; my early work was inspired by organic and naturally repeating forms. Minimal amounts of cutting are used working with the simplicity of the form to create a soft sensitive aesthetic. Diamond cutting and sandblasting machinery is used to sculpt the pieces. My work shows balance, precision and great delicacy. My current work is based on my PhD research, working with the simplicity of cast glass forms which are then set with a pâte de verre and ceramic core at the centre. The forms display a range of translucent and transparent effects.
Onto Juo, which is a design led creative venture; which I run with Joanne Mitchell. We are based at the National Glass Centre, in Sunderland we specialise in the design and manufacture of fused art glass; creating high quality art glass panels for domestic and corporate interiors. We hope to re-invigorate wall art by offering contemporary fused Glass Art as an innovative solution for a design-conscious clientele. From concept to installation we work closely with interior designers, specifiers and architects on bespoke projects. We offer a bespoke design consultancy for industry and private clients, drawing on their specialist design skills and manufacturing knowledge. Clients benefit from our expertise in prototyping, product development and manufacturing and if required outsourcing and supplier liaison. Design projects can be tailored to meet the client’s needs providing strategic reports relating to competitors, market positioning and trend forecasting; with a view to brief origination and the design and manufacture of new products. Working directly with manufacturers to develop product processes, inspires us to create more innovative and interesting designs in their bold and contemporary style. The innovative glass processes we have investigated in design for manufacture have greatly influenced our studio work in concept and technique. Working closely with clients, we design bespoke pieces, appropriate to their specific requirements. We have worked to commission with a wide range of clients over the years.
For my Juo work, I am inspired by forms and textures found in the local landscape, capturing parts of the north east coast to create a series of limited edition wall panels. I cast selected sand drifted textures and stones in plaster which I transform back at the studio into unique and limited edition art works. The inherent transparent nature of fused art glass is an inspiration for me, the evocative way that light passes through the glassy surface intrigues me. The relationship between glass and light is the central theme which I find myself drawn to examine tirelessly in this unique art form. Given that glass is made of sand this work has an immediate link to the physical materials of the coast. The forms come directly from nature inspired by the play of light and dark shadows on a coastal landscape, seen through the subtle interplay of light and colour. My affinity to the NE coast is evident in the echoes of tidal patterns formed in the sand that appear in my work.
My work is not only confined to the practical side of glassmaking, I have also taught introductions to glass and ceramics, held product design workshops and taught engraving and printmaking workshops at the University of Sunderland and at Edinburgh College of Art. I often deliver lectures about my work to a wide range of audiences. I have won a range of awards for my glass work which include: Outline Student Glass Prize 2001, Edinburgh Crystal Masters Scholarship 2001-2002, Blueprint Business Planning Award: Creative Industries & Overall Winner 2006 and the Craft & Design Selected Maker of the Year Gold award in 2009. I have had my work featured in many national exhibitions in such places ranging from London to Edinburgh and all venues in between. My work has also been exhibited internationally in France, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and in the United States.
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In my constant search for and research into British makers, I have just come across the profile and work of Adelle Corrin, only to find out that she died in August of this year.
While I undersatnd that no one lives forever, I couldn't help but feel sad that someone who chose to give so much to the world is no longer here to continue to doing so and that selfishly, I can not see what she would have yet produced.
And so in my own personal tribute to someone that I have only just discovered but need to say goodbye to, please see below some examples of her work so that you too may know of her and the legacy she has left to us all.
The Four Seasons
Private Collection Pieces
You can read more about her here
Apologies for being so quiet for the last couple of months but I have been really, really busy which is brilliant! I am finally busy with my glass full time and things are getting better and better. I have courses published until the end of August with some new additions. As well as the mosaics which I kicked off in February, I am also going to be running half day workshops in fun stuff - copper foiling flowers, glass applique, make a mosaic mirror. These are aimed at people who just want to have a go at something different and leave with something to take home.
My standard courses in Stained Glass and Fused Glass are going well. I have lots of dates for courses every month to see what proves popular - mid-week, weekend, school holidays, no school holidays etc This has meant that numbers on my courses are very variable - some courses are fully booked a couple of months ahead, whilst others have just one person. I can’t see a pattern yet, I expect to get more consistency in numbers as I get a bit more savvy about how often to run courses. I’ve also added some extra course durations - stained glass can now be done as a 2 day course and my first student was brilliant. He made a lovely panel which he is going to be put into his front door and has a schedule of other windows for his house. For fused glass, I am now offering the 2 day course as a part 1 and part 2 one day course or those who don’t want to do a 2 day course in one go. And finally, after much pressure from some previous students I have finally sorted out an intermediate glass fusing 2 day course. The first one ran this week and was really good. My two students came from quite different backgrounds in terms of experience but they both left with new skills, lots of good samples and lots of enthusiasm. Hopefully I will get some more bookings from previous students who are looking for more.
Should you be interested in attending one of my courses please don’t hesitate to get in touch
In two weeks I will have done my first day at the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate which I am really looking forward to this year. I am proud of my work and think it is commercially attractive so hopefully the buyers will think the same thing! Of course, as usual, I want to try and make loads more stuff and get it framed in time as well as all the other last minute prep that always happens!
After that, I’m off to the National Glass Fair on 6th May which should be good. I tried out the Cambridge Glass Fair in February and was really amazed at the interest people had in glass. Unlike a lot of other fairs, people really want to talk to you about the glass and have lots of knowledge which means that the day is more fun and interesting. I even sold some work and took a course booking! The National Glass Fair is organised by the same people as the Cambridge Glass Fair so I am looking forward to an enjoyable day.
Anyway, it’s gone midnight again and I am at my usual spot on the computer - I thought I was a glass artist, but it seems that running your own business automatically turns you into a computer nerd! Just waiting for the latest updates to my website to upload and then I’m off to bed.
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Crispian Heath has brought his stunningly beautiful glass sculpture to Made by Hands of Britain.
You can see more exmaples of his work here
Tags: blue cliff, blue glass, blue glass ornament, blue glass sculpture, blue mountain, blue shard, glass art, glass mountain, glass object, glass ornament, glass seed, glass shard, orange glass, orange glass ornament, orange glass sculpture, seed sculpture, studio glass, sycamore seed, sycamore seed sculpure. glass sculpture, winged seed, winged seed sculpture
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Absolutley delighted to announce that Crispian Heath, who has his work on Made by Hands of Britain, has won the Craft&Design Selected Gold Award 2013 for Glass.
Competition for these awards is fierce and so Crispian is deservedly proud about being selected, not only by the general public, who are allowed to vote for their favourite makers but also by a speicialist panel of expert judges.
I am very proud and honoured that such a talented and clearly acclaimed maker has chosen to include his work on the site.
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