Return to the Mall

On a lovely sunny winter’s day last week I went up to the Mall Galleries to see the annual show from members of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. It’s always good to check in with the show as there is a wide range of craft, and this year the exhibition seemed packed to the rafters with work. I was pleasantly surprised to see work from two of my former students.


I remember teaching Emma Rawson (above left) on my bowlmaking course a good few years ago now and she had a fantastic sense of colour which manifested itself in a couple of really beautiful bowls, images of which I still use in my teaching as examples of former student work. These days she is making exquisite cast house forms which are combined with screenprinting. Fiona Bryer (above right) did a summer school course with me 5 or 6 years ago and then went on to the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. She exhibited a collection of sculptural pieces cast in lead crystal with are both organic and fluid but also demonstrating superb control over her material.

As I walked around I had half an eye on potential artists for our next Designed | Crafted show in September and I spotted some promising new talent on show, so our artist list will be growing!


We are open!

After a very long set up this weekend, Designed | Crafted is finally open for business!

The set up was slightly traumatic, involving a late night furniture set up on Saturday night, a towed car and a midnight trip to the Hackney car pound and then a fourteen hour styling session yesterday to get the space looking right.

I managed to get a few snaps of the space before we left at midnight, but it was looking lovely.

Come along to the Private View tomorrow night (Tuesday 16th December) from 7-9pm.

Society of Designer Craftsmen Gallery, 24 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DU

See more details of our ten artists at


Designed | Crafted

Our exhibition opened last week at the Society of Designer Craftsmen Gallery in Rivington Street, Shoreditch. Designed | Crafted is a showcase bringing together the best of British craft, with beautifully handmade objects which bridge the gap between craft and design.

We tried to represent the breadth of the show in the window with one piece from (almost) every artist. The gallery space was looking gorgeous with a row of Simon Yates‘ sculptural stands made from polished yew leading to the back space where Brett Manley‘s ‘Glass Forest’ comprised of a cluster of glass discs presented on plexiglass stands. Juliette Bigley‘s bowls in polished silver had a seductive warmth from the gilded interior which put me in mind of horse chestnuts and their shells.

From the arboreal to the underwater, my Coral Bowls have an organic undulation about them which invokes notions of deep sea coral as they project a frilly pattern of colour underneath. Myung Nam An‘s wall of sculptural ceramics continues the underwater theme with colourful anemone-like forms.

Set against these weird and wonderful shapes, Katie Snow‘s androgynous geometric jewellery is no less intriguing. in fact her collection is called ‘Pockets of Intrigue’ as the wearable angular containers open to reveal their secrets. Then we had beautifully contrasting work with the virtuoso blown glass vessels by Adam Aaronson, large and expressive, contrasting with a group of neat blown glass vases from The Edition Collection, exquisitely engraved with intricate patterns.


Private-ViewWe are open late on Tuesday 16th September for a private view to which you are cordially invited. Please come along between 7pm and 10pm to see this exciting collection of contemporary craft work with a design edge.

See further images at my Pinterest page


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.



An i-Lumen-ating experience

I had an odd experience last Friday. I had spent the day at a Business Club run by The Design Trust in a lovely sunny conference centre in Bloomsbury. We had been in the main meeting room all morning, then served lunch in the garden courtyard and attended a seminar in another side room, with the gentle sounds of the general public in the cafe at the front of the building.

Walking back towards the exit at the end of the day, I noticed some small stained glass windows dotted down the corridor. “That’s odd!” I thought… the stained glass was backwards, so I was looking at it the wrong way from the corridor, which meant that the front view was on the other side of the wall. As I followed the corridor down to investigate what was on the other side I was envisioning another meeting space. And then I turned the corner to discover that the cafe was in fact just the front end of a chapel! A chapel within a contemporary conference building? Surprising.

On speaking to the cafe manager, the penny dropped. Lumen was in fact a Church which had been redesigned in 2009 with dwindling congregation numbers in mind and thus rebuilt with the religious space being only one relatively small part of a larger multiple use centre.

Quite apart from being a beautifully designed space, it struck me that if I could spend a day in the building without actually realising it was a church, then the Lumen brand offers a challenging model for religious architecture in the 21st century.


House of Glass VII

Last weekend I held the first part of my Open Studio. The weather wasn’t brilliant but the sparkling glass made up for the lack of sunshine. As usual, I opened up the studio and most of the house to visitors with all the seconds glass being sold off at bargain prices in the studio.


House of Glass part 2 will happen this weekend and I think it’s going to be a sunny one so we’ll be laying out lots of glass in the garden too. My top room will be dedicated to Love and Marriage, with lots of lovely paper flowers on display. Come along 11am-6pm.

As well as all the old favourites, I had some new glass on display. My new Mandala Panels (below) are delicious kaleidoscopic glass collages which create a complex double image in the reflective background which changes as you move through the room.



Central Saint Martins job

Zusana Gombosova's piece

I recently did a job for a Central Saint Martins student to custom make some glass for her MA project. Zuzana Gombosova has built a research device for growing objects from Bacterial Cellulose. This device could enable its user to grow and engineer properties of the material, eventually growing it into small complex objects. Her work is on show from 18-24 June at the new CSM building at 1 Granary Square, King’s Cross.

I made seven panes of glass with a smoky graduated tone for her structure. The graduation of tone was achieved with the very careful application of glass enamels by airbrush spraying. It was a frustrating process as the slightest droplet or scratch would show up on the layers of spray, so it was a matter of cleaning off and starting again (many times!) until I had eventually an absolutely perfect graduation. Then I had the seemingly simple job of matching the graduations between panels which, again, was not simple!

Zusana Gombosova's piece open