AOH artist Stephanie Else tells us about how she makes her kiln-formed glass artwork
Hi Stephanie – how have the last few months been for you?
If I’m honest I’d say the last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster, though I’m sure it’s been similar for most of us. Despite some turmoil in my personal life, I’m thankful that I have had my studio to escape to. I feel lucky that I have been able to channel any stressful or negative energy that I might be feeling into something positive, and really believe that creating art in any form is an excellent way of doing this.
I was thrilled to discover that I had won the London Art 2020 Award! It feels like a strange time to win an Award, especially during a pandemic, but it has been such a boost to feel that my work has been validated and I’m on the right path with the pieces I am creating.
Can you tell us about your work and how you make it?
I make vibrant glass artworks using a variety of kiln-forming techniques. My designs are predominantly abstract and often have a sculptural feel about them. I love using both colour and texture, and glass is a fantastic medium to work with as the colours are so vivid and rich in their own right.
My work involves cutting and layering different sheets of glass then melting them in my kiln. I then add design elements using precious metals, lusters and layering more glass. The pieces can require several firings to achieve the desired effect. The results can be quite dramatic and often unpredictable. One of the things I enjoy most about working with glass is that I’m never quite sure what a finished piece will look like when it comes out of the kiln.
Light and texture play an important role in how my pieces are perceived. Traditionally glass is required to be back-lit to show its true potential, however with my glass panels and tiles I have developed a way of combating this by mirroring the glass. This enables the light to bounce back making the panels literally glow from the wall. The pieces are also designed to shift and change with the light throughout the day.
Additionally I produce a range of glass gifts and jewellery, as well as my traditional glass snowflakes which are always a festive hit at Christmas.
Tell us about the London Art Award!?
The London Art Award is an invitational art competition run by Galeria Moderna which is judged by several prominent art gallery owners and artists. I was invited to enter during the first lockdown, and was unsure whether to go ahead, especially with everything that was going on around. I’m so very happy that I decided to apply in the end as it gave me something to focus on, and I was literally over the moon when I was announced as one of the winners.
I had already been a finalist in the Creates Emerging Artist Award at the beginning of 2020, and had won the Stone International Art Prize the previous year, so didn’t imagine that I would be lucky enough to win yet another Award. There is to be an exhibition of winning artworks held in Castle Fine Art in Mayfair, hopefully in 2021, once it is safe to do so. Something very exciting to look forward to!
London Art 2020 is also supporting charities including the NHS and Arts 4 Dementia. Arts 4 Dementia have launched an online gallery of winning artworks and will get 20% commission on sales. I’m proud to be a part of such a worthy cause.
Who else will be exhibiting in your Open House this year?
I’m lucky to have two amazing artists exhibiting with me at my studio this year:
Graham makes beautiful leather items such as belts, journals and gorgeous bags. His leather tote bags are my particular favorites. All of his pieces are beautifully hand stitched and he is happy to make bespoke pieces to order.
Romi Shadler Reingold:
Romi creates delightful enameled copper compositions which are beautifully detailed mini artworks in their own right, and make the most wonderful gifts. Her hand carved ceramic Lantern Sculptures have a wintery feel and are designed to hold a candle or light, but also look stunning and elegant as stand-alone sculptures.
How different do you think the AOH festival will be this year and do you think there will be any benefits from the new online aspects of the festival?
I think for most of us the spirit of AOH is the spontaneity of visiting venues on a whim, or choosing a trail to wander around, never quite knowing what you’re going to discover next. I do believe the festival will have a very different feel this year, especially with so much uncertainty in the background and the introduction of social distancing rules and booking systems in place. I feel we may temporarily lose some of the traditional aspects of AOH that we all know and love.
However, although the essence of AOH involves physically visiting the venues it’s important that we all adapt to the current situation to enable us to carry on doing what we love. Bringing the festival online can only be a good thing and will bring many benefits including helping us to reach a larger audience and enabling us to discover and engage more widely with artists and art lovers alike.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
I am very excited to be working on an exclusive range of designs under my pseudonym Glassgirl. This new project is very different from my recent work and came about after a collaboration with a longtime friend, Dotmaster, where I created some of his iconic images in 22ct gold on glass. For me it is all about two worlds colliding – Contemporary Glass meets Urban Art.
These pieces can be seen exclusively at www.graffikgallery.co.uk/collections/glassgirl
The new collection is yet to be launched – so watch this space!
Stephanie’s studio will be open right up until Christmas, by appointment:
Glass In Fusion