How I got into Glass Casting

At school I was very much into creative pursuits, I always had a craft project on the go. Once I left school I turned to night classes to learn new skills and it was here that I discovered stained glass at the age of 18.

The 'lightbulb' moment happened after only half an hour and I was entirely hooked on making things in glass. I even took my glass tools with me to England when I did my extended O.E. and left behind some pretty dodgy windows and lampshades. Eeeek!

Fast forward a few more years, I was living in Brisbane, and needing to leave the printing trade (as it was going digital, and I wasn't keen on this).  I applied to every stained glass shop in Brisbane and amazingly I was hired and began to learn how to make leadlight windows in a professional capacity.  Another few years later, I was married and living in Melbourne when I discovered a University course - Bachelor of Fine Arts, major Glass. Negotiations with husband Mike were had and I was formally accepted into the degree course. It was a tough 3 years working 24 hours a week while attending Uni 'full-time' but I was driven to get the most out of my time at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).

My intention was to take this learning, and develop a skill set to create large scale commercial windows.  However, in my second year I was taught Glass Casting as a module and immediately thought "this is my thing". Casting Glass pushed all my buttons; careful and considered modelling, working solo, using hand skills, planning, technically challenging and process orientated. And I found a love of working in 3 dimensions.

There was just one problem. The course never intended for any students to major in casting, so there wasn't a tutor to teach me. After more negotiations, a fantastic local artist Helen Stokes was employed to teach me one-on-one, but I only had 3 x 3hour sessions per semester. I was a diligent learner and this wasn't a problem as there was much I could do unassisted in between our technical sessions. The sculpture tutors would work with me on form and concept. Kiln tutor Graham Stone helped me to gain a solid understanding of kiln firing. So I had a great team around me and by the end of 3 years I proudly took out the top student award and had stashed a body of work away for later....when I returned to New Zealand.

Starting again in New Zealand....the next installment (coming soon)