At the beginning of the year I set myself a challenge: to learn new skills that would broaden my horizons and allow me to design and work with new materials in my artwork. Last year I was fortunate to spend several months learning to work with silver and copper and so mastered the basics in metalsmithing.... enough to experiment a little on my own and not be scared of this as a new material anyway! This year, I began with glass. Glass is something I have always wanted to work with. I am in awe of those who can create anything from cut and joined panels to fused glass pieces to blown 3 dimensional works and I was determined to give it a go.
Luckily for me, Peter Symonds College in Winchester was an ideal starting point, offering weekend courses for beginners in Stained glass panel creation, (as well as many other options for the artistically minded) Alex, the tutor, was an inspirational and very patient course leader and has gained a wealth of knowledge through his own work as a professional glass artist with sunriseglass
The day began with the most basic and important of skills, learning to cut glass. Actually quite a terrifying prospect when you actually come to do it for the first time, but one that with patient instruction, can be quite a quickly acquired skill. It is most satisfying to achieve your first straight line let alone the joy of the first wiggly one!
Throughout the day, my classmates and I learnt the art of simple image creation, breaking a design down into it's shapes, ready to cut, place and rebuild again using a cutting and slotting technique to fit the individual pieces into the correctly measured sections of lead strips. It's a long and really tricky procedure which is definitely worth taking time over. By the time I was ready to solder my joints into place and weatherproof my image by filling in all the tiny gaps with cement, it was possible to see how it would look when it was finished and whilst it is certainly no masterpiece, for a first attempt I was very happy :-)
So - skills enhanced, interesting new people met, a decorative piece for my windowsill to take home.... all in all, one to heartily recommend.