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TRCH David Suchet

Art Works: Stuart Akroyd

17 September 14

The glass blowing wizard lets us in his studio to find out what it takes to create his work...

Elipse Vase

The inspiration for this vase design came from nature; a signature of my work is my use of colour and rhythmic patterns that echo the flora and fauna of the ocean. I worked the different colours on the blowing iron (the hollow tube used in hot making) and saw the way the glass moved and how it formed patterns. It was that which led me to design in this style. Each colour has a different melting point, making it hard to work them together in a single piece and have a beautifully shaped form as the result.

These designs were formed over several months, with sketching and development pieces. The process to make the vase is spread over three days. The first day is preparation, getting the colour pieces ready and filling the furnace with clear glass. The second day is the actual blowing; each large vase takes around two hours of hot working, after which it is placed in a controlled cooling kiln overnight to anneal. This stops the glass from shattering, which happens if it cools too quickly. The third day is cold finishing, grinding and polishing, and the pieces are ready to go.

I’ve been a glassmaker for thirty years and as well as being creative you have to learn about the science, I’m governed by the physical possibilities of the medium. The glass is created by the mixing of raw minerals and silica sand. In a process of reactions and interactions these chemicals, when heated, create a super-cooled liquid and that allows me to manipulate the molten glass. I’m still driven by the same emotions that I first experienced when doing my BA in 3D Design at Sunderland University in 1985. The course covered ceramics and stained glass, but I majored in hot glass because it gripped me. There’s an immediacy about it, the sticky treacle-like substance just outshines everything else I’ve tried. I love the juxtaposition of the finished piece as a solid form, but one that creates the sensation of movement and grace.

I would love to produce a massive 1,000 piece wall art design. I’ve been developing glass sculptural pieces where multiple discs are placed in a pattern on the wall. I’ve had commissions for between four and fifty discs, but imagine on the wall of the Royal Centre a vast shoal of glass discs, like fish, moving together to create a graceful and beautiful sight in sunlit water.

I’m a fifteen minute walk from the Market Square and visitors are welcome at the studio to watch me blowing. It’s usually best to contact me first though, just in case I’m away at a trade fair.

You can see Stuart working at his studio, Unit 3, Thoroton Place, Thoroton Street, NG7 4EW. He will also be at Lustre, Friday 14 to Sunday 16 November, Lakeside Arts Centre.

Stuart Akroyd's website

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