Artemis student project: a glass paperweight (borosilicate glass)

My first torchwork experience…

I have always been drawn to glass. When I look into glass pieces, I’m lost in a watery world so beautiful and calming. When I was a child, my father used to create all sorts of objects in coloured perspex – I was so fascinated with the layers of bold transparent colours and the colours created by overlapping them.

A few years ago, I found myself on a jewelry and wirework course. Besides studying the fundamentals of creating jewelry on this course, I developed a passion for glass beads and special lampwork pieces, finding ways to make the most of them by wire-wrapping and threading. My interest in actually creating a glass piece myself became something of a daydream.  In December 2011, my daydream became reality at Artemis Glass Studio in San Ignacio, Belize, under the excellent tuition of Paul Stevenson.

I’m probably not going to able to do justice to the experience in words. Suffice it to say that for me rotating molten glass in a golden blue flame is as pleasurable as drinking the best Belgian beer with friends, underwater snorkeling with stingrays and eating the best Yorkshire fish and chips in  newspaper on a cold cold night! Some things in life just take your breath away!

Artemis student project: glass jellyfish pendant (borosilicate glass)

At Artemis Glass Studio you’re made immediately to feel at home. In Belize, the cup of tea is a gesture of warmth and this awaits you before you enter the world of Artemis!

Without giving too much away – because you should go yourself for the experience – this is a studio where you are free to explore your mind and creativity, under the reassuring guidance of an artist who’s passionate about glass.

Paul also has that rare quality which makes him a great tutor: despite so many years of experience he’s still in constant wonderment at his craft and he’s always searching for new ways to express that through his chosen medium.

Besides building many of his own workshop tools and machines – which in themselves are very clever – he works with his students in a very freestyle manner, blending good studio practices and safety at work

By the end of the first day, I felt really empowered by my new skills and just wanted to keep turning those punts through the night!

I was really fortunate to be invited to stay just a few hours longer than originally planned, to finish a small fishy project that encompasses all the skills covered in the day session.

My first glass fish ended up upside-down as I changed punts to work on the fish’s features. My second fish turned out the right way up, thankfully!

Artemis student project: glass fish (borosilicate glass)

I enjoyed a very nice lunch with Paul and his family, and, there were plenty of cups of tea throughout the day to keep me refreshed! These were provided by Paul’s wife Terry, who also shares a passion for glasswork and engraving. The enthusiasm seems to be rubbing off on their grandson Kaleem: he’s a budding crafts-kinder so Belize may have a new talented artist on the horizon!

Farewell at Artemis Glass Studio (Paul, Terry and Kaleem)

Artemis Glass Studio also has a gift shop on the premises. I couldn’t resist a pressed glass Belikin beer bottle and a few of Paul’s own glass pendants in which, after my day’s workshop session, I had come to appreciate the technical skills involved to create them!

Artemis Glass Studio, San Ignacio, Belize

 

Originally published: Saturday, January 21st, 2012 at 14:53 in Atelier, Inspiration

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