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Glansin Glass is a glass studio and retail outlet based in Unst, Shetland’s most northerly isle, owned by glass artist Cheryl Jamieson. Cheryl designs and makes fused glassware that reflects the environment she loves, lives and works in. Here she explains more about what influences her to create her beautiful pieces...

We are delighted to have Cheryl's popular pieces and new designs showcasing in ShetlandMade this summer.

What is your background?

I didn’t go to art school, I have a maths degree and always thought I’d be a teacher, but then sometimes you follow a different path and find yourself doing something completely different from what you had planned.

Now I’m glad things didn’t work out how I first planned, as it has led to me doing a job I love in a place I love!

Who or what do you draw inspiration from? what motivates you to do what you do?

In a word – Shetland! I have always been proud to be a Shetlander, but working in a creative practice gives you the chance to express what the place means to you. I have always been well supported by family and friends, and they encourage me to push myself to grow my business. A big part of my driving force has been to encourage visitors to Unst, for me it’s the best place in the world. We have a great community and lots going on, if I can entice visitors here and they experience that for themselves, hopefully they will come back.

How do you work, what is your process? What's your favourite part of the process?

I never really feel I have a proper design process. I just get an idea in my head and go for it. I’m not good with test firing. I just jump right in and luckily in most cases, the result is how I imagined, or better! The most exciting bit is always when you open the kiln after a firing. Layers of glass go in to the kiln and out comes a solid piece, sometimes it has changed colour, depending on the glass used. You never quite know what you’ll find.

Why do you choose to use the materials that you use? Where do you source your materials?

I have always been in love with glass, especially blue glass. When I discovered fused, or kiln-formed, glass I was so excited that this was a craft accessible to me. The glass I use is manufactured in America, especially for fusing. I can add things such as shells, sand, metal, but not seaweed anymore, after I discovered how bad that smells when heated!

Do you have a favourite piece to make?

There are some pieces that are really time consuming to make, such as the driftwood panels and peerie nip glasses, but I love the end result so much, and the huge transformation, that they’re special to me. I’ve recently been having fun trying out different designs for my Shetland pendants, and I like seeing how they come out.

What are your most popular pieces?

I wish I knew, then I’d make loads of them, but I can never tell what’s going to be popular. I’m lucky that most of my designs sell well. Shetlanders and visitors alike like the pieces with obvious Shetland influences.

I recently launched my Shetland pendant collection and have been blown away by the response.

How long does it take you to complete a piece?

This varies greatly from piece to piece. Most of the dishes don’t require cold-working so come out of the kiln ready to be sold. Other bits need a lot of grinding and assembling.

What does your craft mean to you?

It really means everything to me. I feel I can express who I am. That does make it very nerve-wracking when you present new work, but it’s such a thrill when it’s well received. It has also given me a great work/life balance especially when the bairns were peerie, and has opened up world of opportunities to travel and meet new people. I am very lucky.

Art aside, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m pretty involved with the Unst community, and on various committees, so that doesn’t leave much spare time, but I do enjoy spending time with friends and family, keeping fit and travelling.

What constitutes a successful piece for you?

There are some pieces that I plan in my head and I'm unsure if I can make, but then they turn out well and make my heart sing. The Shetland pony trophies I recently made for the Breed Show are examples of that.

How has your practice changed over time?

I’m always looking for new techniques and materials, and although I sometimes still feel like a newbie as I’m continually learning, my confidence has definitely grown.

What is next for you?

There are big developments in the pipeline for Glansin Glass as I have recently secured European Funding to build a visitor centre/workshop in Uyeasound. That should begin towards the end of the year and I hope that by next spring I can welcome folk along to see what I do and have a go creating themselves. It’s a far bigger (by that read more expensive!) project that we ever thought when we started the process 18 months ago but we’ve battled on to get to this point so I’m determined to make a success of it. I will be launching a crowdfunding campaign shortly, and planning lots of lovely rewards for folk who’d like to support me.

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