Artist reflects on glass passion
Dorothy Ratcliff has designed and crafted exquisite pieces of art that have been presented to world leaders such as the Queen, former US president Bill Clinton and the Sultan of Brunei – and her work will be available at the Culverden Christmas Country Fete for as little as $10.
The noted Christchurch glass artist who, with Richard Wiki, undertakes huge projects in glass with their business, The Glassroom, finds smaller assignments equally rewarding.
‘‘It’s good fun being at Culverden and I enjoy making smaller pieces of jewellery,’’ she says. ‘‘I treat it as fun and that’s what it’s all about.
‘‘People just love it. Last time we were there, there were queues outside our tent.’’
Ratcliff says she particularly likes fusing 22 carat gold and silver with glass so that the metals are embedded within it.
As well as jewellery, she will have for sale bowls and platters – but it may be her giant glass handbags that stand up to 90cm high that will have the most dramatic impact.
Ratcliff says The Glassroom is a unique glass studio that tackles some of the more difficult projects that glass companies cannot handle.
‘‘We have developed an art form and are using it in a commercial way,’’ she says.
One of their most challenging and spectacular assignments has been the glass and brass pohutukawa flower sculpture that envelopes the two-storey Supreme Court building in Wellington.
Installed in 2009, it took six months to complete and, among the client’s requirements, was a warranty that would cover the work’s efficacy for 100 years.
The Glassroom also produced for country singer Shania Twain a 3.5m one-piece basinbenchtop which had fern motifs fired into the base of the glass. The road leading to the Twain property had to be graded before the transport company would risk delivering it.
Ratcliff began her journey with an interest in stained glass. She worked in England for a couple of years where she completed commissions for the Duke of Windsor and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
She describes her immersion in glass art as ‘‘an absolute passion’’.
‘‘It’s almost like a sickness that hooks you,’’ she says. ‘‘There was nothing written about it. It was always experimental. The experimentation was never-ending and it remains never-ending.
‘‘Much of it is about playing with light, texture and colour. It is a pretty exciting medium.’’
Glass act: Dorothy Ratcliff, of The Glassroom, will have her large glass handbags at the Culverden Christmas Country Fete on October 27.