Shiny things: the intricate creations of Magpie Castle

Austrian born Jinx from Magpie Castle decided to move halfway across the world to New Zealand after finishing school. She’d never been on a plane before, but being adventurous and a bit naïve at the time she thought it’d be a good idea. Her mum’s reaction was: “New Zealand? Do they even have roads there?” But mum always told her to “Live your dreams” as well so that’s exactly what she did, and it all turned out fine on the other side of the world.

Before working as a glass artist Jinx was a professional painter for ten years, showing her work in exhibitions all over the world. Then, about three years ago there was a big shift in her creative energy which transitioned from painting into stained glass and kaleidoscopes, which now is her main form of artistic expression.


 

 
What do you make?
I use a mix of artisan glass, recycled glass and mirrors to create kaleidoscopes, window and wall hangings, as well as my own range of glass jewellery.

How did you get into your craft?

I love the way light shines through coloured glass, so for many years I’ve acquired colourful glass bottles from op shops and put them in a sunny window to enjoy. I also collected kaleidoscopes because when you look through them that’s a similar effect, only more pleasing because of its symmetry and the changing play of shapes. I don’t remember the exact trigger point for me to try glass work, but it must’ve been something like a glass terrarium I’ve come across online because that was the first thing I made – not knowing that 3D shapes are actually quite hard because everything needs to fit together perfectly – glass doesn’t stretch… and well it didn’t quite fit together perfectly but I was still pleased with my results. So I watched more videos on how to solder and cut glass and many burns and cuts later it’s all working out how I want it.


 

 
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I’m completely self-taught, which in the time of the internet is fairly easy to accomplish as long as you have the drive and perseverance.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I looooooove coming across unique glass colours at the glass shop. It’s like unearthing treasure. My favourite glass find to date is this panel of dark glass that looks very inconspicuous until you hold it up to the window and it explodes with an opal pattern of purple-blue oil slick marble. Pure magic! I have a few panels that are super special and when I show people they always ask what I’m going to use them for but right now I can’t bear the thought of cutting them up so I just hoard them… until one day I’ll probably just frame them and hang them in a window all square. As is where is.


 

 
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces

First, I design a piece, so drawing it up on paper, then measuring how it would best translate into glass and making a pattern to cut from. Then I find the glass. I either buy artisan glass from the shop or I use old picture frame glass from the op shop which I clean up and cut and often paint with glass paint, especially for most of my jewellery range. I also get mirror from the op shop or broken ones from friends that know I can give them new life.

After the glass is cut, I sand the edges by hand. Then I clean off the glass dust and wrap copper foil around the edges and burnish it down. Finally, I add solder along the edges with my soldering iron, which gives it the metal edge. Then I clean the piece by neutralising the flux (a chemical used for soldering) and cleaning it all off. The last step after drying is polishing with wax and attaching chain etc.

What inspires you?
It probably sounds a bit odd but: my dying self. I see her on the death bed telling me to use my time and live life to the fullest. That really gets me off my butt – the thought that there’s always juicy things to do and experience. And not so juicy things too… but still worth experiencing. I never run out of inspiration. I find it everywhere. Sometimes in my dreams. I have weird ones when I work right up to bedtime… dreams in which I turn into the glass shapes that I’m working on.
 
Describe your workspace:
I have two work spaces really. My cutting and soldering I do out in a corner of the garage and the cleaning, copper foiling, painting etc gets done in the house, which is nice, especially during winter. The walls of the room I work in are covered in thousands of rainbows from the suncatcher crystals in my window. I love it so much. It’s my rainbow cocoon that hatches ideas.


 

 

 
Five words that describe your mind:
Dancing between serenity and insanity.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
I did a kaleidoscope commission for a customer and after she looked through she had this creative flow of words stream out of her which she wrote down and shared with me. That was truly special to have my kaleidoscope inspire someone like that.

What are you currently listening to?
A lot of modern psychedelia such as Temples, Jacco Gardner, Morgan Delt…

Recommend an album:
Hypnophopia by Jacco Gardner, favourite song “Find Yourself”

“I never run out of inspiration. I find it everywhere. Sometimes in my dreams.”

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
“Nimbe, the little fairy”. I adored the beautiful illustrations in it, especially the rainbow wings. And funnily enough it might have planted the seed for kaleidoscopes in me because the fairy has a telescope like instrument called a “miraclescope” which she uses to look down to earth and see if anyone is in trouble needing help.

What are you reading now?
I can’t avert my eyes from my work but I can listen so I’m more into podcasts. Lately I’ve been listening to talks that Ram Dass (a spiritual teacher) gave in the 70s – 90s. There’s a podcast on Spotify, produced by the Be here Now Network that you can listen to. I just usually skip the first fifteen minutes or so which are just the host talking and go straight into undiluted, cooked but insightful and thought provoking views of the universe and our place within it.


 

  
A favourite quote:
“At 19, I read a sentence that re-terraformed my head: “The level of matter in the universe has been constant since the Big Bang.” In all the aeons we have lost nothing, we have gained nothing – not a speck, not a grain, not a breath. The universe is simply a sealed, twisting kaleidoscope that has reordered itself a trillion trillion trillion times over.

Each baby, then, is a unique collision – a cocktail, a remix – of all that has come before: made from molecules of Napoleon and stardust and comets and whale tooth; colloidal mercury and Cleopatra’s breath: and with the same darkness that is between the stars between, and inside, our own atoms.

When you know this, you suddenly see the crowded top deck of the bus, in the rain, as a miracle: this collection of people is by way of a starburst constellation. Families are bright, irregular-shaped nebulae. Finding a person you love is like galaxies colliding. We are all peculiar, unrepeatable, perambulating micro-universes – we have never been before and we will never be again. Oh God, the sheer exuberant, unlikely fact of our existences. The honour of being alive. They will never be able to make you again.”
 – Caitlin Moran


 

 
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
Apart from lowering our carbon foot print I really like the idea of supporting our local economy. Every time I buy local things it feels like watering a beautiful garden and watching it grow. Plus, so much love goes into handmade products that you just cannot have with factory made goods.

What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations? 
I love the feeling when something I’ve created resonates with someone else and they choose to spend money that they’ve earned using their energy to buy something I’ve made using mine. A piece of my soul lives on to shine and bring joy to someone else’s life.

“Every time I buy local things it feels like watering a beautiful garden and watching it grow.”

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A colourful set of placemats shaped like maple leaves, made by Chris from STITCH. He made them out of those sample squares of leather you get from upholstery businesses etc. They get thrown out when they decide to discontinue the material so the artist saved them from the landfill and turned them into placemats. I absolutely adore the different colours and love the fact that it’s recycled material. He also upcycles end of season fabrics and much more. You can find him at Green Lane Market often, which is on Saturdays at 22 Southwark Street in Christchurch. I’m there too sometimes, as well as at The Arts Centre’s Makete so check for my next market dates in my Instagram.

Special offer for Felt readers!
Jinx has has kindly offered us a great deal for Felt readers, for the duration of her feature fortnight: a generous 25% everything in her Felt shop for her entire feature fortnight! Just purchase before 5pm Monday 28 September, and enter the code MAGPIE25 in the voucher code field at step 4 of checkout. Thank you so much Jinx!

 

See more from Magpie Castle here »

 


 

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