Opening Someone Else’s House

I’ve lost count of how many times I took part in the Dulwich Open House event each year (was it 8 or 9?!) until I moved away from Dulwich last year. I’m hoping to be back for Open House 2017 as my new house is right on the edge of the Open House map. But in the meantime I really enjoyed last weekend when I pitched up to show in someone else’s house for the Nunhead Art Trail event.

Printmaker Sarah Capel was lovely enough to invite Liz King, an artist/illustrator, and myself to show our work alongside hers. Our work is quite different and yet complementary in an array of bold colours, and it all came together very easily – although admittedly I didn’t have any of the tidying and cleaning of the house that used to take me longer than the actual set up!

It was wonderful to see a few familiar faces from the Dulwich Open, some of whom I remembered from years ago. It gave me a taste for opening my new house… though of course, first comes the challenge of actually getting it finishing first!

Quick decisions

Rereading the brief for this year’s Stevens Competition on the train up to London Bridge, I was reminded what a lovely potential commission it is going to be for some lucky budding architectural glass artist. So it was no surprise to find out that we had more than double the number of entries of last year. I was to act as one of four judges to assess the 46 submissions at Glaziers’ Hall so I knew it was going to be a busy day.

It was a rush to get through so many entries in the first round and the overall standard of the submissions was higher than last year, so there was more to look at and more to think about. I suspect a lot of entrants do not realise how short a period of time we have to look at each presentation, and I found myself getting slightly frustrated that so many statements included a lot of information about the commission that we already knew. As judges, we want to read about what is unique to the panel we are looking at, not the general information we already know from the brief. However there were a few gems in there which had made good use of background research and stood out as well thought out responses to the brief.

Surprisingly despite a broader range of good submissions to choose from, the four judges came to consensus pretty quickly and painlessly, with none of the arguments that happened last year. We’re looking forward to the seminar day on Tuesday 31st May at Glaziers’ Hall when we will discuss a selection of the entries.

Read more about the brief here.

Christmas Dish and Spoon

Dish and Spoon

My whole life was packed into storage in November and it has remained there ever since, so the best I could hope for this December in terms of Christmas shows was going to be very low key. The Dish and Spoon, a cafe in Nunhead, offered a lovely opportunity to come together with some other local mums to put on a pop-up.

I spent a lovely morning hanging a colourful window display with Sarah Capel of
Sarah Capel Printing and Peggy Mends of Peggy Bamford and an even more enjoyable Saturday selling to locals in the lovely warm atmosphere of the Dish and Spoon.

Ten Years of Teepee

Ten years ago a group of friends from Central Saint Martin’s glass course spent a week sleeping in a huge teepee in the garden of a lady in the Black Country. It was a cheap way of living for the week so that they could attend glass courses at the Glass Biennale held in and around nearby Stourbridge.

Glass Teepee

I was one of that group and along with my seven fellow glass artist friends we decided, a year or two later, to form a loose collective to exhibit and promote our glass work. Trying to think of a catchy name for our group, we remembered our time sleeping under canvas and the name Teepee Glass stuck. We constructed a glass eight-sided teepee, to which we each contributed one face, and this has been displayed at all the shows and exhibitions we have held since.

TP10YRS poster

Our latest exhibition marks a decade since we formed Teepee Glass and so we thought it would be fitting to celebrate this milestone with an exhibition called ‘TP10YRS’ at the Stained Glass Museum in Ely Cathedral. Especially for this exhibition, each Teepee member has created a piece 10×10 inches square and based on the theme of “10” and these are for sale alongside many other pieces.

Five of our group of eight decided to go up to Ely for the private view. We got as far as the final stretch of the A10 between Cambridge and Ely and disaster struck: there was a flapping noise and an alarming clunking from the engine, and we pulled over on to a verge on the side of the road to discover that one of the spark plugs had flown off and there was no way the car was starting again. Four of our fivesome were AA members so we called for help, assuming we might still make it to Ely in time for a glass of bubbly and the speeches….


Five hours later we were still waiting! The recovery truck eventually came and transported us all the way back to London. Our day had turned into a ten hour round trip up and down the roadways of the UK…. miserable!

Gala and Glaziers

Having back to back shows is never much fun, and with barely 24 hours between the end of Made London in Marylebone and the start of the Glaziers’ Fair in London Bridge there was barely time to catch my breath. However the second show was (thankfully) much smaller and required only a simple set up, albeit in the grand surroundings of the River Room at Glaziers’ Hall. It was lovely to watch the river rise and fall at London Bridge right outside the window and quite different to doing trade shows in anonymous event halls.

Unfortunately both shows were blighted by numerous phone calls from various estate agents and solicitors trying to agree the final terms of sale of my house and purchase of our new home…. it’s difficult to do a soft sell on passing customers while simultaneously getting into hardcore negotiations on the mobile!

So the gala evening, held on the first evening for the University of Oxford Alumni Network, was a welcome break from these complicated discussions to indulge in some canapes and sell some glass to the amassed alumni.

MADE London

Made London took up residence in the church at Great Portland Street four years ago and has gone from strength to strength since then. I have had Made London on my exhibiting radar for quite some time as I had heard good things about it as a central London selling show. Particularly since the demise of Origin – and its predecessor, the Chelsea Craft Show – there hasn’t really been a large regular show in London curating contemporary crafts for a dedicated database of customers, but Made London seemed to be confidently claiming that position.

When curating our own show Designed | Crafted last year, we picked up a couple of makers from last year’s Made London who we thought were a great fit and one of them turned out to be Sarah Young, who also happens to be one of the organisers of Made London. It wasn’t until I spent a day invigilating our own show with her partner Jon Tutton that I heard about Made London direct from the horse’s mouth, as it were, and I decided to apply this year.

I was happy to have made it past the selection panel, as there is now a long list of disappointed applicants who try to get in to exhibit each year at One Marylebone,  the wonderful venue that is used for the show. Originally built in 1826, the Holy Trinity Church was one of only three churches designed by Sir John Soane but it was considered the most architecturally distinguished. It was sympathetically renovated and reopened in 2008 as a leading London events venue, and Made London has been occupying it for a weekend in October for the last four years. It is a magnificent space, with four levels each having its own feel which adds to the atmosphere that this is a unique selling show in the Craft calendar.

I took a large stand on the first floor galleries which had beautiful tall arched windows all the way along. Having a lovely big stand meant I had space to exhibit my Global Treasury lightboxes which I rarely display because of the space required. Hiding the electrics is always a bit of a faff, but it was well worth it this time as I mounted twelve lightboxes on the back wall plus a new piece based on the Global Treasury range but made much larger at 60cm square.

Good sales of the lightboxes during and after the show made me reconsider my Global Treasury lightboxes. I realised, with some nostalgia, that these were in fact my very first collection of retail items – they were the first pieces I thought about in terms of a product range with distinct patterns designed to be replicated. I enjoy making batches of these lightboxes as there is enough scope within them to play with colour so as to make each one unique even though they follow an overall design. Also because the cost ratio of materials to labour is favourable it means I have been able to keep the retail price consistent over the years. Although I have streamlined both the number of designs in the range, as well as the making process, the one thing I have never managed is to hone the making process down to the bone to supply them at trade prices, despite having had numerous requests from my stockists over the years. Maybe this could be a challenge for next year?

Upcoming Shows

I have two shows coming up in October.

From the 22nd to the 25th October I will be at Stand 23 at MADE London. This Design and Craft fair is fast becoming one of the top selling events for designer makers in Europe, showcasing the very best and most original makers in this country. Visitors to MADE LONDON are always impressed by the variety, quality and originality of the craft and design on show; and love exploring each of the four levels of the dramatic and beautiful building at One Marylebone.

On the 27th and 28th of October I will be at showing at the Glaziers Fair alongside three others Teepee Glass members who will also be there. This is the first time The Worshipful Company of Glaziers has held a fair and it will be in the magnificent setting of the Glaziers Hall on the River Thames at London Bridge. Forty six exhibitors (mainly glass but also other media) will be selling at this fair.

These are both perfect opportunities to get some early handmade Christmas presents which are more unique and thoughtful than the standard high street fayre.


The Thrill of Liberty

I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to see my work in Liberty! I love Liberty, I love its Arts and Crafts connections, I love its history and any maker would be honoured to have their work in the store. So it was a lovely surprise to glimpse my Magnolia panel through the lighting installation hanging in the atrium.


My hanging glass artwork is featured on the fourth floor balcony thanks to Patch Rogers who runs the Arts and Crafts Department.

It was wonderful to see my contemporary glass panel hanging alongside original Arts and Crafts furniture, although I was slightly surprised to see it had actually been hung upside down! Not that it matters, but it was curious to see that whoever installed it preferred it with the flowers facing down instead of up. Beauty is evidently in the eye of the beholder!

Launch of The Dulwich Notebook

I was invited to attend a book launch at the Old College building of the Dulwich Estate. The whole notion of the self-appointed fiefdom that the Dulwich Estate holds over its residents does not sit well with me and, frankly, I will be glad to escape its bureaucratic clutches when I move my house and studio out of West Dulwich next month. However none of this resident’s acerbity applied when attending the launch of The Dulwich Notebook by Mireille Gallinou, as it is a delightful celebration of all the good things about Dulwich, centring around its history, its topography and its local businesses.

Best of all – for me at least – was that I am featured in the book! Mireille brought her photographer Torla Evans to my studio months ago, so I knew I would be in the book in some form. However I’d forgotten that they also took pictures in the rest of my house and garden as the author was particularly interested in the 1960s architecture of my estate, and as I flicked through the pages I was excited to see lots of pictures of me, my work, my studio and my house! I was also thrilled for Mireille that what I had understood was to be a brief Book-of-Days-style notebook had actually turned into quite a weighty well-researched tome that will hold much interest for anyone living in or around the area.

Glass Sellers Dinner

A few months ago I applied to a competition run by the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers. My competition entry was highly commended and as a result I was invited to the prizegiving dinner at the Ironmongers Hall in the City. Being accustomed to the other guild, the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters, it was interesting to find out that the Glass Sellers don’t have their own Hall so they use various venues for their events. I was told the Ironmongers Hall was the most grand of all their dinner venues, and it was indeed a beautiful building, a 1920s Tudor style hall rather incongruously surrounded by the modern architecture of the Barbican.

However once dinner commenced, the customs of the Worshipful Company were familiar from dinners I’ve been to at Glaziers Hall, most notably the tradition of the passing of the Loving Cup.

In this communal act of conviviality, a silver gilt vessel is passed down the table from which each attendee is to drink. Harking back to times when drinkers may have been attacked by sword while they were otherwise engaged, the deep rooted custom of the Loving Cup is for each member to sip from the up with one member standing behind, back to back, and another standing in front, face to face, to protecting the drinker from attack.

After dinner we withdrew into a side room where the display of of competition entries were for sale to the assembled members. I was delighted to see that both my samples had been sold.