Updated: Apr 29
I came across the breathtakingly beautiful glass pieces created by Studio Gillies Jones on the Fen Ditton Gallery website and, unusually for me, I was desperate to touch, and grab hold of, them. Such a visceral reaction led me to immediately invite Kate Jones on the podcast to discover her creative process and the art of glassblowing and engraving.
She and her partner, Stephen Gillies, both studied at Stourbridge College of Art (Stephen, glass design, and Kate, fine art), and established their joint studio in 1995 to develop a range of sculptural vessels and contemporary glassware for everyday life.
Within the collaboration each artist has specific skills sets: Stephen blows the glass and adds layers of colour, while Kate slowly engraves away these layers to reveal the colours within.
They draw inspiration from the patterns and histories of the North York Moors landscape that surrounds their studio and from their commitments to the demanding skill of hot glassmaking.
In the past three decades, they’ve created a distinctive collection of batch-produced glass bowls that are collected internationally and critically acclaimed unique works in Swedish overlay.
These unique works push their technical and creative limits through a range of larger free-form one-off vessels which celebrate elements of the landscape and are in numerous museum collections including the V&A.
Self-taught Kate describes the process of glass blowing – which Stephen is passionate about – the technique of Swedish overlay, glass colouring and engraving; where Stephen’s work ends and hers begins; moving from
2-D drawing to 3-D engraving; and using nature and her “curiosity of the small” as inspiration.
She shares with us what it feels like to be in tune with glass, learning to work within its limitations, while still exploring new, spontaneous ways to draw and mark it. How playing with the light, with transparency and reflections, makes a piece sings and how that magical result often comes as a surprise.
Kate's creative approach is both rigorous and relaxed, exploratory and fun, so I hope you will enjoy our conversation and feel as inspired as I do by Kate and Stephen's talent.