It was a life changing event that led Cambridge glass artist Jill Matthew to make a full time job of her craft. Two years and several power tools later, Jill’s passion for glass fusing and intrepid approach to her work keep her coming up with fresh ideas and adding new designs to her colourful collection.
What do you make?
I make fused glass pieces, from jewellery to platters and beyond! Fused glass is the heating of glass layers, powders or shapes of glass in a kiln to many hundreds of degrees to melt it all together.
How did you get into your craft?
By accident really! I did a glass bead making course while on holiday in Nelson and enjoyed it but was working full time as a nurse manager at that stage. In 2009 I got very sick with a serious neurological illness and needed to learn to walk, write, eat etc again. This lead to a “life’s too short” moment and as a boredom buster for my lengthy recovery I bought a microwave kiln. The obsession with melting glass grew, and I convinced hubby to buy me a “proper” kiln for my 30th birthday. Two years later and the obsession is still growing and has become my full time job – with two kilns and a variety of power tools!
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
My highest training in art remains School Certificate! I’m completely self taught in glass fusing.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Tools – all of them, kilns being the most important, but I’m currently more than a little obsessed with my sandblaster!
Materials – I love the colours art glass comes in, it gives great scope for mixing and matching colours. I also enjoy upcycling glass – such as turning old windows into plates, or empty bottles into cheeseboards or trays.
Processes – there are many challenging processes, I get so excited every time I try something new and it works! I also take all my own photos and do all my IT so there’s always website updating, Facebook posting and of course Felt listings!
What inspires you?
Anything and everything! We live in a beautiful country full of artistic people so there is always inspiration to be found in our environment. It’s amazing how something simple can trigger an idea for a piece. My husband is great to discuss ideas with too, he doesn’t just listen to me yammer, he joins in the conversation, bouncing ideas off him helps feed the inspiration!
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I like to create pieces that are unique, it has never been my goal to “mass produce”. I love that I couldn’t reproduce any of my pieces exactly even if I tried.
Describe your workspace:
I am very lucky in that our house has a separate two roomed studio at one end. I have the kilns and packaging section in the upstairs part, and I cut and assemble my glass in the downstairs part. You’ll usually find me working in there surrounded by haphazardly placed items with an old TV series playing on the DVD player on my ancient TV! My saw and sandblaster hang out in the garage as they are too big and messy for the studio.
Five words that describe you:
Warped sense of humour, systematic, creative, excitable, shy.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
The response to my latest custom order was great: “I absolutely love love love it. It’s exactly what I wanted.”
What are you currently listening to?
I confess I love ’80s music – current faves would be Meatloaf, Queen and Bon Jovi.
Your favourite childhood book? See Ya, Simon by NZ author David Hill.
What are you reading now?
I seem to be in a Chick Lit phase at the moment – currently anything by Jill Mansell is being devoured.
A favourite quote:
Life’s too short. (Or anything humorous from Blackadder or Black Books!)
Do you have any pets?
Manny the cocker spaniel, Gypsy the small grey cat, and Zeekie a 9 year old black rabbit. Oh, and a tank of tropical fish! Manny is the self appointed kiln guardian, and Gypsy is his deputy. I often find them curled up in the studio enjoying the kiln warmth.
If you were a crafty superhero, what would your name and superpower be?
I couldn’t think of anything so typed my name in online and it came up with “The Fearless Enigma”! That seems to fit quite well as my superpowers would be not being scared to try new things in the kiln while being puzzled about how I came up with that idea in the first place!
What was the last handmade item you bought?
Bracelets from the lovely Trena at YGM Jewellery Design Handcrafted Jewellery.
Check out more of Jill’s work in her Felt shops, Jill Matthew and Funknetics, and leave a comment below to go in the draw to win the set of four Black and White Waffle Coasters pictured above! This draw is open to New Zealand residents only. The winner will be drawn on Friday 3 August.