‘You can’t hurry or you’ll make a mistake’
Gillian wing, 65, Lincolnshire
Breaking the glass and selecting the perfect piece to complete my sun-catcher, I am completely immersed. Working with glass has a pace of its own – if you’re in a hurry you’ll make a mistake or even cut yourself! I love creating beautiful framed mirrors, windows and mandalas, or helping my pupils – who range in age from 16 to their 80s – make something lovely.
I haven’t always done this – until I retired in 2008, I had a managerial role in the health service! But I learned to make stained glass as a hobby in the 70s, after attending a workshop and meeting a friend who had her own studio. Over the next 40 years, working and raising a family, I had little time for stained-glass making. But in 2008, as I planned for retirement, I found a new complex of studios were opening up three miles from my home in Spalding. The timing seemed serendipitous and I rented a studio with thoughts of setting up a stained-glass workshop.
Before opening, I went on courses to renew my
skills – finding how the techniques and tools had developed since my training, and gradually
finding my feet again. Since then I’ve worked on bespoke pieces, which I sell at my studio; but
I’ve also started to run workshops both for hobbyists and art and design students. I teach for the Stained Glass Museum at Eli, at Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire and on community projects in churches and chapels.
Of course, working with such a fragile material can be precarious. One year at the Sandringham Flower Show, a rogue gust of wind dashed one of my roundels to
the floor. But in spite of the odd smash, it’s satisfying work.
Stained glass may seem a relic from the past, but its beauty is timeless; whether in an ancient chapel or embedded in modern architecture, for me it will never get old.
For more information, visit strawberryglass.co.uk
Gillian with bespoke pieces for sale in her studio