The intrinsic beauty of glass

Fallen Leaves by Simon Alderson

Fallen Leaves by Simon Alderson

Shards of diffused light bring boiled sweets and glimmering beetle casings to mind as you glance over glasswork created by Simon Alderson. Describing himself as “a designer/maker specialising in stained and fused glass”, his love of craftsmanship only flourished after he understood the potential of his artistic urges.

“I loved drawing and painting when I was growing up, so I was always going to follow some sort of creative path,” he says, “but it wasn’t until I got to art college that I realised the numerous options that could take! It’s the practical ‘hands on’ making that I loved the most.”

Splash - in construction by Simon Alderson

Splash – in construction by Simon Alderson

He admits that he’s always had a passion for stained glass. “One of my favourite places is Durham Cathedral,” he says. “I could spend hours staring at Tom Denny’s Transfiguration window. During a gap year after college I took some evening classes in stained glass, and another in ceramics.”

Simon’s ceramics tutor recommended a look at Sunderland University Glass and Ceramics department.

“From there I just fell in love with the material! Glass has an intrinsic beauty and has endless possibilities of manipulation, both hot and cold.”

The Butterfly Effect by Simon Alderson

The Butterfly Effect by Simon Alderson

There are challenges in chooses to work with such a fragile material, however.

“Glass can be a tricky medium, temperamental at times!” Simon exclaims. “One of the greatest pleasures is opening the kiln with that slight flutter of butterflies in your tummy at what awaits inside. Exploring and mastering new techniques, and learning from the mistakes and mishaps along the way is all part of it.”

Inspiration arrives in all forms. “At university I did a lot of autobiographical work,” he comments, “and nature provides a constant wealth of possibilities.  My current line of work is about letting the glass itself inspire me through colour and shape.”

Simon has spent the last couple of years exploring the medium, “experimenting and mastering different techniques with in kiln forming. Sometimes I find just letting the glass speak for itself works best, harnessing the flow, and letting one piece inform the next. With the pattern bar techniques I’ve currently been using you don’t really know what’s inside until you start cutting up the blocks of glass. Once open this then inspires the work, such as the piece Rorschach Spine (below).”

Rorschach Spine by Simon Alderson

Rorschach Spine by Simon Alderson

At the heart of it all is a delight in making.

“I just love being able to head into my studio and create,” he says. “I’m lucky to have such a great work space, and one of my greatest pleasures is sharing the love of glass through teaching – inspiring others to create and explore the versatile medium.”

Currently Simon is exhibiting work at Glass Designs Gallery on North Street in Bristol, and Bristol Handmade Glass, plus The Marlow Gallery up in Melbourne, Derbyshire. “I’ll be taking part in the Celebrations exhibition up in Stourbridge as part of the International Festival of Glass in August. And there are open studios in September and arts trails in October.”

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