Artist re­flects on glass pas­sion

The Press - Zest - - Culverden Christmas Country Fete -

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.

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