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Friday, 26 March 2010

Featured Artist - Rachel Elliott

Hello, my name is Rachel and I am a glass-aholic / full time glass artist! I have been working with glass for nearly 10 years now since discovering stained glass through an evening class and then deciding to study it formally as a degree at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2007.

Rachel Elliott with her piece 'Extracting Rainbows' at the British  Glass Biennale 2008, Stourbridge, UK.

I've been running my own business, full time for just over a year now and I guess the ultimate goal is to be able to make enough of a living from the small gift glass that I make and teaching classes, to be able to attend at least one workshop a year and also have time to make sculpture. The main thing about the sculpture is I don't want to have to think about whose going to buy it or where it will go, I like it to be all about the free expression, which is difficult when you are aware that you are spending time on it when you should be making money.

I now work in my own studio, which is a 200 square foot unit I have rented since October 2008 and renovated from scratch to accommodate the equipment and workbenches I use on a daily basis. I also teach from there but it's really too small to share permanently with anyone else who isn't working on exactly the same things as me, at the same time.My inspiration comes from all over the place, but mainly I work with the realistic and representational. Of course there are subliminal meanings behind much of my work but I like everyone to 'get' it on some level, I don't like art that isn't accessible to people because they don't understand the back story of it. I also like people to smile at my work, it's the greatest feeling in the world to see someone come to your plinth, space or stall and beam at what they find in front of them. I know it's really cliche‚ but there are so many other people's work I admire, both in glass and other materials that I couldn't begin to list or even narrow down favourites. I admire all those that strive to create something unique and share both their creations and knowledge with the world.

I really enjoy making and the challenge of figuring out how to make a piece too, sometimes it can be a real struggle to continue to be engaged with a piece once I've overcome those obstacles and usually one a piece is finished, I don't like it and am usually already embroiled in the next one.

Having said that, I really like my 'Storm Troubled Sphere' bead which is in the Tempest bead exhibition. It was a chance opportunity that came at a unique time when I was undertaking work experience at John Hardman stained glass studio in Birmingham, who allowed me the 3 weeks it took to make the bead, as well as my constant holding of tiny pieces of glass in front of the painters asking 'Do you think it needs more detail?'

The 'Storm Troubled Sphere' a 75mm diameter bead made from 60 pieces of glass, hand painted with kiln fired enamel.

Colour, hmm, colour and I have a difficult relationship. My favourite material is clear lead crystal as it is great for making the things I want to from. I love the idea that I am creating something that exists yet is transparent, a ghost of a thing. When I was a kid, I remember telling myself, if a picture isn't coloured in it doesn't exist and I think that was quite perceptive of me as that is how our eyes perceive the world, through the light which reflects back into them. So yeah, I have a real problem using colour as for me I have to ask myself, why am I using it? Is it the colour the thing is in real life and does it need to be? So I usually revert back to the clear safety net!

My kilns are all blue, I have 3 and they are called 'Big Blue', 'Little Blue' and 'Wee Blue' for obvious reasons. The studio is littered with inspiration and I have a strange collage on the back of my fold up cutting table which features Myra Hindley and always raises an eyebrow!

A detail from 'Fringe' a miniature glass allotment made from lost-wax kiln-cast lead crystal and Silver Art clay.

Usually the more methodically I'm working, the more I get easily sidetracked by other little projects, for example during my latest sculpture, my glass allotment, there have been cars, police boxes, Mo'ai and submarines sneaking into the firings to distract me! Deadlines are the biggest deciding factors to the work pattern too, the week before one, its bedlam. I think that's one of my failings, that even if I know something is coming up and I have X number of weeks, I still won't start something till the last possible moment. I also find it impossible to delegate anything to anyone else, or ask for help with things either.

However I do take a pride that everything I make, whether it's jewellery, a bead or a sculpture has been painstakingly made by me and I work very hard to ensure that the piece is unique and not available from anyone else except my studio too.

Some of the LiquidTartan range of screen-printed jewellery and bowls launched in 2010 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the glass industry in Scotland.

My main website is http://www.rachel-elliott.com and there are links from the home page to my various other web presences; Facebook, Twitter, Etsy and the like.


Flyingcheesetoastie said...

I hope it's not too wordy guys, I just got into the narrative a bit!

Julie ... Lush! said...

That shed pic is stunning Rachel! Congrats on being featured x

Raspberry Rings said...

Great Read Rachel thank you!

jeaniesblog said...

Really admire you and your work rachel, I enjoyed reading this!