Meet the Maker - Rosie Sutcliffe

Monday, May 06, 2013

Hello!  This week we are starting off with a meet the maker interview from Rosie Sutcliffe.  Rosie makes delicate glass blown bowls. Over to you Rosie:

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work?
My name's Rosie and I'm a glassblower based in Cornwall where I make hand blown vases and bowls with sandblasted motifs. My background is in Illustration which I studied at Falmouth College of Arts before moving to Bristol in 2006. After a number of years living and working in Bristol my dream of making a living from my own creative practice was not going quite to plan so I decided it was time for a change and I returned to Cornwall in 2012 to retrain as a glassblower, being taught by my dad Malcolm who has been working with glass for forty years. 

Apart from creating things what else do you do?
One of the best things about being back in Cornwall is the coastline and I try to get out walking or to the beach as much as I can. I'm waiting for the weather to warm up a bit and then I plan to get into a bit of sea swimming. I also love to cook, curl up with a good book, go to galleries, see live music, watch good films and spend time with family and friends. 

When did you know you were an artist/maker? 
I have always been creative so it has never really been a conscious choice, just something that seemed like the& most natural thing to do. My parents are both creative and run their own business so that has always been an inspiration, but I never thought I would end up working in the same creative field as them, but their knowledge and experience has been invaluable. I suppose the first time I really felt like I was a maker was when I started to sell my glassware. The feeling of somebody actually wanting to spend their money on something you have made is a real boost. 

What do you love most about working in your chosen discipline? 
Working with glass is still relatively new to me so I am enjoying the challenge of learning a traditional craft from someone who has been working with it for many years. One thing I really love about it is that it's process based so it is really hands on and engaging.With any creative work it's great to totally immerse yourself and get in the zone of making and doing. I also enjoy the combination of working with a material that requires a great amount of skill and technical knowledge as well creativity, and the realization that the more I improve my skills the further I can push my ideas and see them come to fruition.

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from many things; books, music, illustration, ceramics, textiles, design all feed into my work and keep my mind turning with new ideas. I suppose my most direct inspiration comes from nature, plant forms in particular. I love the shapes they create and they gives endless possibilities when creating motifs to sandblast into my glass or even the shapes of the blown glass itself. 
Describe your studio or workspace?
I work in my dads workshop which is located behind my parents house and gallery in Penryn near Falmouth. It used to be a bakery once upon a time and they had to do a huge amount of work to it to transform it into a glassblowing studio, including dismantling brick by brick a huge bread oven. Now it is home to one very hot furnace of molten glass, along with all the other necessaries required for a glass making studio. It's a great place to be when the furnace is on, especially in the winter when it's chilly outside, it really gives some life to the space....but it's not what I would call pretty. Everything is quite industrial looking and built for purpose rather than on any aesthetic level, but it's a great space and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to make use of it.

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
That's a tricky one as I like and admire the work of so many different creative people, but I suppose being that I am now working in glass and are relatively new to it it would be great to go over to somewhere like Sweden to visit some of the glassblowing studios over there......a great excuse for a little working holiday.

How would you describe your creative process?
I don't really follow any set process as such when it comes to ideas, as at the moment I have to try and work within my current glass making abilities. This involves blowing simple shapes with colour on the inside. Once each piece has cooled overnight it can then be handled and I can apply my designs using a vinyl resist. I then sandblast away the exposed colour which leaves me with a design in relief. Then each piece is hand polished, signed on the base and it's ready to go. Working this way allows me to adapt my designs to fit each pieces and the variables they can often throw up, such as variations in the colour or bubbles in the glass. Being able to adjust my designs accordingly means I can work with these imperfections to create truly individual pieces.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
That's an easy one. My mum used to be a potter and I think it was when she was studying she made this lovely little series of spice pots which she hand painted with depictions of the relevant herbs and spices. It used to sit on the Welsh dresser at my Grandma's house and I always coveted it, then when she passed away a few years ago it was passed on to me and I love it to bits. I can still see it sitting on the dresser when i look at it and it brings back memories so it's extra special. 
What do you when you are stuck in a creative rut?

If I'm in the glass making studio I tend to just make myself work through a slump and try and turn it around. When the furnace is on it's important to make the most of it and try and be a productive as possible, plus my dad and I take it in turns to use the workshop so I need to make sure I make the most of every chance             I get. The other great thing is that my working process involves quite a few different stages so when one isn't going right there are always other things to be getting on with. I am also keeping my hand in with my Illustration work so that provides another avenue to go down when I get a bit stagnated.

Where would you like to be in ten years?
Oh it's too hard to think that far ahead but I suppose whether it's in a year or ten I would just love to be healthy, happy and hopefully making my living full time from my creative practice.

Thank you Rosie, your studio is beautiful!! Thank you for sharing.  You can find Rosie's beautiful hand blown glass in our Made in Britain shop.

Made in Britain
(next to Carluccios)
Quakers Friars
Cabot Circus
Mon-Sat:  10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm

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