Tuesday, 22 February 2011

The Friday Interview - on Tuesday. Amy Orange Juice

Today’s interview is with Amy from Amy Orange Juice.

I noticed Amy’s lovely glass work when I was poking about looking for a glass suncatcher for the kitchen window (Amy’s shops on Folksy and on Etsy). I am as yet undecided as to whether a suncatcher would work because of my condensation issues (have I bored you about our house recently? We have condensation issues in the kitchen! I am redoing the garden! It is all very difficult! ;-) ), but I thought her things were so nice I wanted to share them with you.

In my mind I always think glass, or indeed anything involving heat, is scary and hardcore. This is because I once took a jewellery class (don’t ask, I was rubbish) and one of the things I couldn’t get through my head was, when you have heated the silver with the blow torch, do not then pick the silver up with your hand. So, I am always impressed when anyone does anything which involves soldering, because if I had carried on for much longer I would have had no skin left on my fingers. I am also too frightened to ignite anything, which holds you back when blowtorches are involved. This is a whole other story and one for which I blame my upbringing; but you can see it is safest and generally best all around if I stick to fibre. So, I admire glass artists lots; but I admire them from a safe distance. Take it away, Amy!
12 beach huts. I believe I once saw a sky that colour, it seems a long time ago (sigh)
1/ How did you get started with making stained glass?
I have always been interested in stained glass, I really love working with colour so I guess it is a good medium for me. I studied art at university but after I graduated I started working with homeless people (as a mental health worker) and I really needed a creative outlet to relax, so I did a stained glass course in the evenings for 2 years. It was love at first cut and I was soon making things for friends and acquaintances; 3 years later (when I was pregnant with my first daughter) I was made redundant, which gave me the perfect opportunity to change career and become self employed. I have not looked back and I can work around my young family. [Note from me, I also used to work with homeless people. As a benefits adviser. However at that time my creative outlet was mostly focused on eating cake and spending too much money at TK Maxx. Stained glass is more constructive].

2/ Could you just explain briefly how the process works? 

Use several techniques, primarily I make traditional leaded stained glass windows, little has changed in the process for 1,000 years! [Note from me, gosh, and I mean that non-ironically]. You make a design, cut the glass, fit it all together in lead came (which has channels for the glass to fit into). Then you solder all the joins together, cement the panel to fill all the gaps between the lead and glass (to make it water tight) and then finish with a patina acid to darken the solder joins and polish with stove black.

For smaller, lighter items I use the copper foil technique which is where you cut the glass, and then cover the edges in adhesive copper tape, these pieces are then fitted together and soldered together.

Finally, I use applique and mosaic techniques, basically gluing pieces of glass to a transparent surface (applique) or onto a solid backing (mosaic) and then grouting the whole piece.

I use etching techniques to affect the surface of the glass and I do a lot of acid etching.

I am saving up for a kiln, so I can start fusing glass together and painting the surface with enamels.
Art Deco Columbine Flowers
3/ I love how your bold graphics translate into glass. What are your biggest inspirations for colour and shape?
Thank you! I get ideas of colour everywhere, I am lucky enough to live in Devon and it is a really beautiful part of the world, from the coast to the moors there is a view everywhere. I am very inspired by Art Deco and I love vintage fabric designs [note from me, me too!] and repeating patterns. Mostly I do a sketch and then try to reduce it to as few lines as possible. I don’t even try to get the realistic colours of nature, you can do that with other media, I want to celebrate the beautiful effect of light on coloured glass and I choose my colours to create a ‘mood’ more than a realistic interpretation of what I see. 
Commissioned window in situ. Isn't that lovely? I bet they don't have condensation. I bet their cutlery drawer opens
4/ Which of the things you make are you most excited about at the moment?
Probably my commission stained glass work at the moment, I am booked up till sometime in the summer with a steady flow of bespoke windows for people’s homes and I love the whole process from having a nosey round some lovely homes to seeing the finished piece in its new home and happy customers (I have been hugged and kissed several times!)

But I am always excited by the next project…I have to think of something to make for a couple of sculpture exhibitions later in the year, I just need to find the right old rubbish to get inspired by! 
Kaleidoboat! I think this fabulous. Also I want to go and live near the seaside
5/ I love your Kaleidoboat, above (link to the story here!). Do found objects/ upcycled stuff feature a lot in your work?
The first thing I remember upcycling was old cigar boxes given to me by my next door neighbour when I was about 13, I would decoupage and paint them with all sorts of designs. I did A Level Textiles and did a project on make do and mend clothes in World War II and I have really been upcycling ever since! All of my art work has included found objects, when I was young it was out of the need for cheap materials but I also like the challenge of incorporating found objects into my work.

I use found objects much more regularly than just in big mixed media sculptures, I also make lots of bottle top brooches, mosaics layered with broken jewellery and all of my boat mobiles,  mosaics and many of my other small pieces are just found pieces of waste stained glass pieced together into pleasing shapes.
Junk Plankton
6/ Are there any other glass artists (or other general artists) you admire?
Oh lots, too many to choose, but at the moment I am especially blown away with the Japanese approach to contemporary stained glass and there are lots of artists on this website who I like to snoop at http://www.kuripa.co.jp

You can see more of Amy on her website, or in her Etsy or Folksy shops. She also has some events coming up – a landscapes exhibition at Otterton Mill from 5th March – 29th April (this is one of the pieces going into the exhibition), and she’s making a new range for a new shop in Scotland in May. She’s also going to be doing an art fair at RHS Rosemoor on 10th-11th April. So if anyone is in the Devon area you can go and have a look at her lovely things (and you could buy some as well! Or you could commission a window! You never know ;-) ).

Thanks Amy for being interviewed, I enjoyed it very much. Best of luck with all your exhibitions and fairs and I hope you get your kiln because I can imagine your enamel work would be lovely x


OddSox aka Thesockgarden said...

I love Amy's work too - it's so cheerful. Her boat is one of my favourite items and the junk plankton sculpture is such fun. x Lovely article.

kirsty said...

Great interview! I think the beach huts are my favourite, though the Kaleidoboat is amazing!

Gracey is not my name.... said...

Very cool! But when I saw those huts, I thought they were crayons at first...love that kaleidoboat!

Susie said...

Thank you everyone! I would like the Kaleidoboat as a sculpture in my garden, I just love it.

Also it would mean I could legitimately pave over a bit and then I wouldn't have to weed it. Just put the Kaleidoboat on top! Perfect.

CraftyCripple said...

I'm not usually one for interviews on blogs, but this was one I was really interested in. I've seen (and coveted) Amy's work on Folksy, so hearing about her has been really interesting. I hadn't seen her other work before, and it is incredible.

Thanks for posting this.

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

Wow, you found a true artist. I say forget the suncatcher and just put that boat in your backyard -- no one will notice anything else, it's just stunning!