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