So there I was. A happy glasser at my bench. A healthy business at dc stained glass studio there in Kendal.. My bright lights and pretty colours drawing folks in… and filling my order book. A constant roll … of work and home. Pull out the ideas and put the bread on the table!
Mmm. Do I sound less than content there? I should. As I had started to have thoughts about something different… maybe a new journey .. a different challenge. I knew I loved glass. But. I wanted to take control over where my work was taking me. (Yikes). But also (crikey) Provide the bread… but get some sp a c e. (Don’t ask for much do I !)
I had an idea.
Or I should say. An idea presented itself to me.. I explored the option of doing an hnc in art glass at Glasgow city college. Excellent! Excitement!! Couple of nights a week in the bright lights of a B I. G city. Ah. But how do I fund that? (I look at my table and my bread…)
I secured my place on the Glasgow course. And. I explored funding and discovered QEST.
The Queen Elizabeth scholarship trust. They stand for everything that I aspire to. The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) supports the training and education of talented and aspiring craftspeople through traditional college courses, vocational training, apprenticeships and one-to-one training with a master craftsperson; helping to support Britain’s cultural heritage and sustain vital skills in traditional and contemporary crafts. And their funding application timeline was just perfect timing.
The application procedure was thorough and rigorous. Questions. Questions. And references. References. And in completing their questions I found my answers. ..
I discovered (big drum roll)… that I wanted to be the best glass lass that I could be. I wanted to learn. I wanted to discover. I wanted to experiment. Stretch myself.
Or at least try.
Anyway. The glass class in Glasgow got cancelled. B u t my plan b (as I call it) will be even better.
The QEST application process had led me to ask questions of myself and seek advice from lots of lovely colleagues and friends who I have met on my 15 year journey with glass. It filled me with confidence and belief that in glass I had found my medium. But also. Maybe that I could take my glass further.
Anyway long story short (really)(I do go on don’t I)… I won my scholarship funding. And I have a year planned chock full of exciting things.
All sorts of things are going to happen. Things I don’t even know about yet. I think.
It has started already. See, part of the funding is to complete a professional development program. with Cockpit Studios in London. … I was a little unsure about this. (I mean… am I going to make myself too busy!)
But it’s brilliant! Inspiring! Energising! Probing. Questioning and… ach. Challenging. But in a gentle, useful way. Zoom meetings (get me) with fellow scholars. Who I discover are not scary (I worried).. but are just like me. In that I mean they are all on a quest. Of self discovery and improvement. It’s just …
Well. It’s a new journey. At times overwhelming but mostly, thrilling.
My plan b … ?
You want to know about my plan b ?
Well. It’s started.
I have got a year’s mentoring with the lovely Deborah Lowe from Todmorden. I met Deb a few years ago on a visit to Pendle Stained Glass, when David, another kind friend, allowed me to shadow some of his workers at his busy working studio. Pendle work on big ecclesiastical projects and I found the visits inspiring. So. When I needed help to see how to get to the next level I remembered these visits and Deborah and David were both so useful in clearing my thoughts and showing me a direction.
I’ve had two sessions now with Debs. I visited her in her studio at Todmorden and absorbed her environment and how she works. We chatted and chatted about the things we will do. Visits to sites of amazing glass. Experiments we will undertake working to Albinus Elskus’s bible to painting on glass !..
Then Deb visited me… and we discussed my projects… looked at my space… (she liked it!!) and then we dove in and had some fun with paint.
Deb uses words like deeper and darker… and phrases like ‘your glass will be around for a hundred(s) of years’… meaning … get it right! At the painting stage. Paint and fire until the painting is right.
I think I always think, get it right at the design stage so you cut glass only once. Which mostly I do. And I paint and fire. Mostly only once.
But now she’s got me thinking. Deeper and darker. There’s a way to go eh.
Here. My painting experiment..
A Man Ray book presented itself to me in my local Oxfam window just minutes after planning debs visit to mine. Deep and dark. Perfect.
We chose an image and daubed paint swiftly (time was tight)… and fired once.
I looked afterwards and thought I want to play more with this. I went deeper and darker and fired twice.
Such fun! (I really do love painting on glass)
Debs will be back. Next time we will visit churches. Look at masterful projects. This stained glass stuff… it’s been around for hundreds of years… And I will share here with you, my love of it. (here, pics from a recent jolly to Underbarrow Church…. think i’d like to have a go at hands and feet!)
My Qest scholarship, as well as funding the years Mentoring with Deborah Lowe, will also fund two painting masterclasses. One block in September with Jonathan Cooke at Swansea Architectural Glass Centre and another block with Surinder Warboys at her home studio in Suffolk in May of next year. Oh and my favourite Life Drawing classes with Catherine McDermid at my local Kendal Brewery Arts Centre will also be supported.
Wow. What an exciting year ahead I have planned.