Back to Print

After 7 months of maternity leave, it felt strange getting back to work at West Dean given that last time I was teaching there I was two weeks away from giving birth! However I was straight to work preparing for the 5 day course “Printing and Sandblasting Imagery on Glass” which is a challenging course to teach, mainly because along with the two titular techniques, I was also teaching an introduction to Photoshop to prepare the imagery for screenprinting.

Ambitious, I hear you say?! Yes, definitely. Every day I found myself running out of time to cover it all. Photoshop is such an enormous topic, and one is only ever scratching the surface by attempting to teach beginners how to use it to produce imagery. However we were well served by the perfect new computers provided by West Dean, and my students dealt well with the constant change of scenery switching between studio and the computer room.

We covered both basic and some more advanced techniques for cleaning up and optimising imagery. I had one very able student who created some great pop art style imagery from photos that he took around the college. The famous Mae West Lips Sofa by Salvador Dali (a version of which pouts suggestively in the West Dean corridor) was photographed, stylised in Photoshop and recreated in two colour screenprint onto glass by the end of the second day.

After all the hours of image manipulation on the computer, after the patience required to expose the image onto the screen, and after the careful mixing of the coloured enamels and the preparation of the glass, the fun of screen printing finally starts…. and it lasts about 3 seconds, if you do it right!

With a good pull of the squeegee across the screen you will see the magic of the screen printing technique. It might all be over very quickly, but it is satisfying to watch the colour transfer itself onto the glass below in a perfect rendering of the image you’ve slaved over.

Several students managed to experiment with overlaying two prints in different colours and when you have the third colour of the glass below, you start to get some fun results. And then…. it was the last day, and we’d used up all of our playtime at West Dean until next time.

January Bowl Making

January saw another bowlmaking course being held at West Dean where I taught a lovely group of students. I always enjoy the slightly longer courses where it doesn’t feel like such a rush to get the information across and students have a little longer to develop their skills and ideas. The bowlmaking course in particular is fun as I bring so many different moulds to which students don’t normally have access: kids in a candy store” is the phrase that often comes to mind!

Glass Class

I held a long awaited Glass Class last Saturday. Two of the four students had been on my waiting list for at least a couple of years but one way or another we’d never managed to coordinate convenient dates until now.

We sat in the garden discussing ideas over coffee at the beginning of the day and then it was to work. One student had been commissioned to make a picture of a lady’s house in glass so she worked from the photos and we worked out how she would give the glass a three dimensional feel. Another student wanted to try new decorative techniques and so she combined them into a bowl which was like a sampler with a different treatment in each part. The third student brought a floral arrangement as inspiration and we talked about ways that one could make flowers by casting or pate de verre. However with only a one day course as an opportunity to make something, we decided the easiest way would be to fuse into ad hoc slumping moulds made of fibre paper. She also made a glass basket in which to display the flowers.

The fourth student had been to my Glass Class a few times and had previously made a much-admired bowl inspired by a jellyfish her daughters had seen on a beach on the South coast. This time she came back with ideas of making a jellyfish-inspired mobile but we had to work out the technical issue of how to invisibly attach the jellyfish arms to the bell. Needing to create clear hanging hooks of glass on both sides of the slumped bell was a challenge but after discussion, she tried something I thought might work though I had never attempted it before… and it worked a treat!


Two places going!

Every now and then I teach glass from my own studio in West Dulwich. One of my private courses is The Glass Class, which is a one day workshop for previous students of mine who wish to carry on making glass in a more ad hoc way.

If you have already learnt the basics from me – either on one of my West Dean courses or my Fuseability course at The Glass Studio – then you’ll be able to join us on the 12th October as I have two places left. Our day will be determined by what you want to do. Most students come with ideas of what they want to make and we usually spend a bit of time at the beginning of the day discussing these ideas as a group and working out what is possible in the time.

From there on in, you have access to lots of materials and equipment and of course expert guidance from me to help you realise your ideas. I am there if you need a few pointers on technique or a reminder of how to use equipment, but there is no formal teaching per se which will allow you maximum time to get on with your work.

Reasonably priced at £85, the cost of the workshop includes the kiln firing at the end of the day and the packaging and delivery of your pieces by courier within a few days of the course.

The day runs from 10.30am-6pm and most people bring their own packed lunch so as to leave as much time for glassmaking as possible.

If you’d like to join us on the 12th October, contact me here.


New course possibilities

West Dean College like to keep their tutors on their toes and their teaching programmes exciting, so we are often asked to submit ideas for new courses.


During my Summer School a couple of weeks ago, one of my students was a graphic designer from Amsterdam who made a very beautiful abstract leaded glass panel. The yellow piece she had intended for the middle of the panel turned out to be frustratingly reluctant to behave itself in the kiln. She was trying to get it to pick up the imprint of a pattern underneath but the glass kept blowing enormous bubbles. In the end she used a plain piece of glass in the leaded panel, but she was very excited by the possibilities of the yellow glass bubbles that she was left with.


One of these she labelled “My creative bubble” and left as a little inspiration to all the passing students with knowing smiles who were also enjoying their own creative bubble in their week at West Dean. But this obviously sparked off some creative thinking and as a side project, she also started working on the idea of layering glass.

She wanted to create a little scene inspired by our surroundings, with the rolling hills of the Sussex Downs, the college logo and a West Dean sheep peeking in from the front. We talked about how layers might be accommodated but leading doesn’t really lend itself towards layering. So instead I suggested that she spoke to the ever-inventive technicians at the college who created a bespoke box frame in which to mount the layers.


This first foray into layering glass worked so well she made another one! This one had a little figure (herself) opening the door to her creativity and letting in a shaft of light. The parallax that always happens across a depth worked well in this piece because you had to shift your viewpoint to peer round the door and see what was behind.


All the work was carefully wrapped and packed and transported back to Amsterdam at the end of the week. Even the yellow glass bubbles made it safely through the journey and my student perhaps has some ideas of how she’ll use the bubbles in the future.

In the meantime, I have been left with the idea that creating a little fused glass ‘peep-box’ would make a really exciting new weekend course to teach at West Dean.


A Hard Week’s Work

I spent last week down in the beautiful surroundings of West Dean College for my annual Summer School sojourn. This is a week-long course which combines both fused glass and leaded glass and, as I always tell my students, it is challenging!

There are always a few problems to overcome when trying to fit a slightly distorted, rounded off shape made from kiln formed glass into a jigsaw-like leaded panel which requires meticulous accuracy. Usually there is some kind of trade off  – a slight deviation from the cutline or a bit of ‘creative interpreting’ (otherwise known as botching!) – but in fact my students this year managed very well with what were fairly complicated panels.

Three pairs of hands

We had a range of approaches, from heavily detailed kiln formed textures to panels which only used a touch of fusing or slumping to achieve an interesting surface. The students worked incredibly hard, and there was some additional teamwork to get one or two of the panels finished on time. At one point I counted four pairs of hands working in combination to cement a panel, including my hands which took a brief break in order to take the photo above.

And what was the rush? Well, it is a long tradition at West Dean’s Summer School that the final evening is for a celebratory party. Each group usually creates a set of masks or hats or some such creative endeavour to mark them apart from the other groups during the party. But my students had worked so hard it seemed churlish to expect them to make anything more, so instead we went to the party dinner in our (clean) blue surgical gloves… the Blue Hand Gang!

Friday morning was the wonderful moment when we held the eight beautiful panels up to the light to finally see what everyone had produced over the course of the previous six days.

Just as much enjoyment was had by wandering around the college to see the work that had been produced on other courses.This year our neighbouring workshop was filled with amazing wooden automata by the students of Robert Race (below left). Each piece turned or moved back and forth in its own uniquely humorous way and we were amazed to see some students had produced five or six diffferent toys.

Up the stairs to the drawing studio and we came across beautifully conceived books made by students on Freya Pocklington’s ‘Creative Drawing’ course (top right). Wormholes and ragged edges made an appearance in various pages to show glimpses of the page beyond, and every one of those books made me want to create a little treasure of my own.

Downstairs in the courtyard was an installation created by resident poet Gary Goodman (bottom right). This had been growing across the course of the week and students had been intrigued to read the new phrases that were being added over time.


August Opportunity

I am teaching my Summer School course at West Dean College again from the 2nd to the 8th of August. This is a challenging course as it covers both disciplines of kiln formed glass and leaded glass. Students spend the week designing and making a large leaded panel which incorporates a mixture of both traditional shop-bought stained glass as well as specially custom-made kiln formed glass. Some students even make their whole panel from glass that they have created in the kiln.

Summer School Images

I still have two spaces on the course so if you have ever thought you might like to learn how to combine the two different techniques, this is a perfect opportunity. Summer School at West Dean is also fantastically enjoyable as there is more cross-pollination between courses than normal as well as various social events during the week, including an end of week party on the Thursday night which is always great fun.

If you are interested, get in touch with me.


Butterfly Mosaic Course


Last month I taught my Butterfly Mosaic course at West Dean for the first and possibly last time…. it wasn’t a very full course, but as a result I had a very calm and enjoyable four days, quite different from my usual running around trying to keep on top of eight students’ work! The students who had enrolled were very experienced, so it allowed me to spend some of my time working alongside them and we all produced some lovely butterfly-inspired glasswork.