Bright and early on a Sunday morning, Tina Pheasant and Shel Duffy from The Foxley Docket set off on an adventure into the wonderful world of glass sculpting – or to be more exact, Middlewich in Cheshire – to participate in day two of a three day course, hosted by master glass craftswoman, Deborah Moses of The Silver Zebra.
With no experience or expectations of making fused glass heading to the studio, upon arrival, the duo were greeted by six other students, ranging from those who were experienced in the ways of glass to complete beginners.
People come from all over the UK to take part in Moses’ world of sculpture sensations, even arriving at the Middlewich studio having travelled from as close as Ireland and as far as Israel. Speaking to some of their colleagues, one said “It’s three days I can totally focus on me – you really shut out the world and let your creative side out.”
Another added, “It’s great to actively learn something new, and go home feeling rested and accomplished”, with more and more attendees discovering “a side they never knew they had.”
Tina described how, although confident in her creative ability, learning what she could actually do with glass ‘turned her brain into a happy frenzy’, with an urge to unlock her inner flair all day; she recalled how her peers described time as being ‘irrelevant’, passing far quicker than they’d like, making a day of meticulous craftsmanship feel more like a moment. First, the duo were taught the basics of fused glass to catch up to the rest – how to cut it safely, how they can work together and how pieces created differ slightly once they come out of the kiln.
During the class, 3mm thick glass is used, with the base piece cut into a square, measuring eight inches by eight inches. Shapes, pictures and designs are all drawn on the base using a marker pen. For a textured effect, pieces can be cut from other pieces of glass and applied to the surface. Decorations are utilised on the base, creating a visual display featuring a wide range of colours and details. Reasonably clean and safe to use your hands, ‘glass glue’ is not necessary unless a piece is required in situ while you work around it.
The glass is cut using a glass cutter tool containing a depth wheel blade. This glass cutter is approximately the same size as a pen or pencil, and uses a diamond or hardened wheel to mark a cut, or ‘a score’ into the glass; this allows it to break cleanly along the lines created. Just add pressure to the top layer of the glass and drag the wheel to create shapes. This is a skill in itself.
As well as the glass cutter tool, glass breaker pliers are also an essential part of making fused glass. The jaws are utilised, paying a huge amount of attention to ensure that when closed, there is no gap between them. This allows for perfectly parallel lines, meaning users get cleaner and more consistent breaks – and a very satisfying snap sound, to boot.
Tina described how she was struck most by the way in which the art of making fused glass pulled attendees away from their phones and just chatted, swapping ideas and assisting others, which made the room carry a sense of calm tranquillity. Her mind was occupied by everything being taken in at once, which she described as being a nice distraction from the stresses of everyday life. Driving home, she felt relaxed and found herself addicted to glass and what the class studio days can offer. In many ways, this class is so much more than just a day out of the office.
For lunch, students were treated to the cooking abilities of Deborah Moses, evidently a jack of all trades as she warmly invited attendees into her home, a part of the day which many students described as being one of the reasons to return.
Over the duration of the course, several unique and innovative pieces were made by the students in Deborah’s class – a bottle of Grey Goose had been transformed into a cheeseboard, while Coca Cola bottles became ornate table decorations. Deborah has years of experience – the two learnt a snippet of the basics, which they described as ‘a pretty amazing insight.’
Speaking about her experience, Tina commented, “Deborah is a patient and knowledgeable teacher of a craft that is not so freely available to learn today. It’s a very skilled craft and one that has been around for many years. I would recommend this fused glass workshop to anyone, even if it’s not your cup of tea – go and enjoy a selfish day and meet new people and the amazingly hospitable Deborah!”
The ‘Three day in depth fused glass crash course’ costs £230 including all materials, refreshments and a two course lunch, starting at 10am and finishing at 4pm. Here, participants are invited to make at least 12 projects, time allowing. This is Deborah’s most popular course, with a handful of places available between August 21st and November 14.
Find out more about The Silver Zebra at:
The Silver Zebra
Call: 01270 526014 (to secure your place/class booking)