St. Ives in Cornwall is famous for its artists and the amazing quality of the light which drew them there in the first place, it's also one of my favourite places.
Today it is a bustling town with a wealth of independent shops, stunning beaches and a range of places to eat. There truly is something for everyone from the culture of Tate, St Ives to the more traditional bucket and spade shops and arcades.
My top tip is that this is not a place made for cars! Choose one of the car parks away from the main harbour and take a bus in or use the park and ride. It can also get extremely busy in peak holiday season so come early to have a look and browse in the shops and around the ancient streets and then grab your things and head to the beach when things get crowded.
Finally the jewel in St Ives crown is the beaches, they are perfect for looking for shells and sea glass in the harbour as well as sitting back and admiring the view while the children get on with building sandcastles and digging holes. There are around 12 beaches in and around St Ives but I have three favourites (more information on them and the others is available here). The one closest to the town (and therefore great when you're as unprepared as I am and invariably need to buy something you've forgotten) is St Ives Harbour beach, it is sandy and huge when the tide goes out but when it's in it can get very small so keep and eye on those tide times! It also gets pretty busy. Porthgwidden is quite small but is often overlooked so can be quieter, you do feel like you've stumbled on to a little secret after the crowds in the town. There is a good café and it's fairly sheltered if its a windy day.
The blue flag Porthmeor Beach (pictured below) is a long stretch of golden sand overlooked by artists studios and the Tate St Ives. As it faces the Atlantic you can usually see some surfers in the waves. So that's a whistle stop tour of this fabulous little town, what do you think? Any recommendations for next time we visit? I'd love to hear about them.
The homewares and gifts section includes some lovely ring dishes which also make beautiful tealight holders, suncatchers and bowls.
I will be adding more items over the next few weeks so keep checking back and don't forget I also take commissions so if you are looking for a special gift or wedding present just get in touch.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a craft fair as a visitor rather than an exhibitor. Although I love exhibiting there isn't often time to look at all the crafts which are being demonstrated and the other makers. Not to mention looking for tips on how to effectively display pieces!
I was delighted to brave the weather and visit Made by Hand, Cheltenham on an exceptionally breezy Saturday. The Made by Hand team have several shows throughout the year and always put a lot of care into curating the very best of craft and design.
At Cheltenham they had a selection of 90 makers and artists in the beautiful surroundings of Cheltenham's historic town hall.
The selection was just as good as I expected with a range of jewellers, glass, ceramics, prints and leatherwork. I was fortunate enough to talk to Laura from Laura Lane ceramics and I have my eye on several of her pieces I would like to add to my collection in the future!
Hopefully I will also be able to visit other events over the next few months, do let me know if you have any favourites you can recommend!
Jo Dowsett and Carolyn Carter the talented duo behind the hugely popular Paperdolls Handmade Markets came to visit me in my workshop ahead of their Christmas Market on 17th November to write an article for their Studio Tour series.
It was lovely to show them around and talk about glass and my inspiration for a few hours!
You can read the full article here but I have added some excerpts below:
"Glass artist Cheryl has always been creative - from pottery and jewellery classes to making her own bespoke wedding dress. She studied geology at university and has always had an intrinsic sense of belonging with the coast, having grown up in Cornwall where she still visits as often as she can. Her love of the natural environment and the bedrock of the coastline has informed the basis of her beautiful craft. Cheryl loves to incorporate the natural surroundings into her work to evoke a sense of space, place and time.
How would you describe your style?
‘Coastal, happy and colourful. I don’t want tell the viewer too much about what the piece is. I keep my houses and cottages intentionally simple in order to free the imagination and allow the pieces to evoke the viewers’ own memories and free their imaginations to enable them to decide what the piece represents to them.’
What is your design process? Do you start with the materials or an idea first?
'Both. Each pebble is different and the textures and markings on the surface can provide the inspiration for what the end piece might look like.’ Cheryl demonstrates by choosing a pebble with natural markings resembling waves crashing onto the rocks. ‘Or sometimes it starts with an idea; I wanted to make a tiny ladder work in a piece and found this stone which reminded me of a cliff and allowed me to do so’. An exquisite ladder cascades down the side of the pebble from an peaceful village scene topped with a perfect blue sky.
What are your can’t-live-without craft room essentials?
‘A glass cutter. By applying a steady pressure to the glass, I can cut it working with it’s constraints and then I smooth any sharp edges with the grinder. I wrap copper foil around the edge of each individual glass piece and crimp it over using my fingers, before smoothing it tightly to the surface using my trusty wooden peg. I find a wooden peg is best for this job as the wood is quite soft so it doesn’t rip the foil and it eventually takes on the shape of the glass. Plus pegs are something I always have handy! I then put the pieces together like a jigsaw before painting flux over the copper edge and using my soldering iron to solder the individual elements together, creating a nice bead or join.’
Speed is another ‘tool’ Cheryl explains must always be incorporated into her work. She must work quickly and efficiently as ‘heat and glass don’t always work together well! Too much heat in one spot for too long can make the glass shatter or any wirework to become undone.’
Describe your work in three words
‘Joyful, evocative and fun.’
Are you a messy or organised creative?
‘I try to be organised but am fighting a losing battle! I often get so excited, I jump from one piece to another, especially if I am working on something new or different. Often, it is the process that I enjoy more than the finished piece!’
Cheryl’s children are not allowed in her studio. ’Children and glass don’t go well together!’ She feels a sense of calm in her creative space and enjoys the peace and quiet; a focussed few hours away from the school runs and house renovations is something Cheryl appreciates.
What brings you the most joy in your creative business?
‘Seeing a customer feel a connection with something I have made is very special. Each piece has it’s own personality and I love finding out where the customer is going to put it in their home and why they wanted to purchase it.’
How long does it take for you to really build some confidence in your craft?
‘My confidence to sell my products came after 5 or 6 years. At first, I had a lot to learn and I really wanted to develop my own style. I took inspiration from my childhood in Cornwall, from holidays and even from my childrens’ drawings. I wanted to create a style which allows everyone to connect with it in some way; to remind people of a time and a place that is personal to them from childhood memories to where they have been on holiday. I have also always loved rocks and stones so it was a lightbulb moment when I thought of bringing the two together.’
Cheryl became more business focussed after attending the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate which although was a daunting experience, it gave her direct contact with galleries and from there she managed to find stockists and grow in confidence. ‘It was a wonderful opportunity to meet and speak to other artists and craftspeople and I was pleased that my work held its own with so many talented stallholders.’
What does the future hold?
Cheryl has so many ideas and wants to incorporate many different techniques into her glass making. She has recently purchased a kiln so she can experiment with ‘three dimensional and multi layered pieces allowing for more dynamic and individual textures’ in her pieces. ‘One of the things I love about glass is it’s limitless, there is always something new to learn.’
We look forward to seeing how Cheryl’s work evolves and develops."
Words by Jo Dowsett, photograph Carolyn Carter Photography
As well as (finally!) feeling like Spring, May is also an opportunity for the RNLI to raise money through their Mayday appeal. The RNLI’s volunteers need to be prepared for anything and having the right kit can make the difference between life and death – for them and the people they rescue.
This year they are hoping to raise £750K and I’m doing my small part to help through donating 10% of all my sales in May to this amazing cause. I’m encouraging other makers to get involved as well and do their bit supporting this amazing appeal, look for the #makersformayday and RNLI's #maydayeveryday hashtags.
Since they started in 1824 RNLI crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,200 lives but they also educate through Community Safety teams who explain the risks and share safety knowledge with anyone going out to sea or to the coast.
The RNLI is 95% funded by donations and its boats are crewed by volunteers who do an amazing job rescuing people around our coastline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You may be familiar with seeing their lifeguards looking after people on busy beaches but did you know they also have a Flood Rescue Team helping those affected by flooding? And they also work with partner organisations internationally.
The RNLI is particularly close to my heart as I used to go out on my dad’s boat in Cornwall as a child and I know how unpredictable the sea can be, things can go very wrong so quickly however careful you are. It was immensely reassuring that the RNLI were there.
Please support this amazing cause however you can and see if there is an event near you to get involved:
£750,000 can help fund:
117 Full all-weather crew kits
3,476 pairs of wellies
7,502 pairs of gloves
I'm super excited to have been nominated for the Muddy Stiletto Awards for the best Gift Shop in Warwickshire but now I need your votes!
Muddy Stilettos is the UK's leading lifestyle website for women outside London. They love to champion the very best local independent businesses and this is the ethos behind their Muddy Stiletto Awards. They search out and celebrate the most unique and inspiring local lifestyle companies across 24 categories.
If you get a moment please vote for me here in the Gift Shop category before 6th May.
Keep your fingers crossed!
I've always been quite sceptical of getting some professional photographs done, surely it was only for big businesses with big budgets? As a small business everything I spend money on has to make sense and produce some sort of return on investment.
However after reassessing some of my marketing material which was looking a bit tired and also starting to make pieces which won't fit in my tiny light box I thought it was time I bit the bullet and tried it out and I'm so glad I did!
I found a local photographer, PhlashWorx. Stephanie and Trevor were super helpful and completely calmed my nerves. It helped that they really liked my work too!
It turned into a very fun morning, I really enjoyed styling some of the lifestyle shots with simple accessories and it helped me see some of my pieces in a new way! I'm still waiting for the final post production photographs and I'll post an update when they are ready but to any other small businesses out there I would say go for it!
Especially if your shop is mainly online your photographs are your shop window, you can have the most beautiful, fabulous piece of art but without a good photograph no one will ever know.
I spent last weekend at my first trade show, the BCTF in Harrogate. It was a huge learning curve and a fantastic experience.
The organisers were excellent and there was a wealth of information before the show on what potential buyers would be looking for and the information they need. All really useful, especially for a newcomer like me!
It was a pleasure to meet my fellow exhibitors and a lot of people who follow me on Instagram face to face. I don't think I've ever been in a room with so much talent! With 500 exhibitors covering a huge variety of different crafts I found the whole experience to be inspiring.
As well as meeting with gallery and shop owners across the country it was also a wonderful opportunity to discuss glass with some fellow makers, perfect for my inner geek! I don't often get the chance to talk shop with other makers and everyone was very encouraging and willing to talk.
I now have 2 new stockists and quite a few leads to follow, I think most of the work is just starting!
Here is me trying to look natural next to my stand at the BCTF!
The turkey is a distant memory, the batteries are (mostly!) recharged and I'm raring to go into 2017! Things have been a bit quiet in Cheryl Steventon Glass HQ over January, I think it's a good time of year after the craziness of Christmas to take a step back, reflect and critically evaluate the last year and where to go in the next. I think this "time out" is particularly important for creative businesses otherwise some of the spark can get dampened.
That said I haven't been completely hibernating! My sketch books are overflowing and I'm very excited to be exhibiting at the British Craft Trade Fair in April. It will be my first trade fair so I've been carefully learning all about a new word of press packs, booth décor and wholesale catalogues. I'm looking forward to the challenge and to meeting some fellow makers and designers. If you are a trade customer and looking for some inspiration for your shop or gallery stop by the Newcomers Galley and say hello!
I have a whole lot of ideas I need to put into glass over the next couple of months so I might be a bit quieter than usual on the web but hopefully it'll be worth it!
I have finally stepped away from the soldering iron and managed to set up my Etsy shop. You can find it be following the "shop" tab in my navigation bar above. It is a work in progress but I'll be updating it with new stock weekly. Drop by and let me know what you think!
I'll also still be happy to undertake commissions and bespoke pieces so if you see something on there you'd like but its sold out or you'd like a slightly different colour etc. just drop me a quick email and I'll see what I can do.