Hello! I’m Katherine Martin, and I live with my husband and two tanks of tropical fish in Hugglescote, Leicestershire.
My journey with glass really began in the autumn of 2011, with a visit to Venice. We took ourselves on a day trip across the Lagoon to Burano and to Murano. Looking around the Museo del Vetro was fascinating, as was looking around the various glass shops. In one, I picked up a bracelet, of turquoise glass beads with pink and sparkly gold decoration, quite simple, just strung on elastic. I was astonished when the shop keeper said that he had made the beads, out the back of the shop. ‘You made these?’ I guess I hadn’t given much thought before to how glass beads were made, but somehow I thought that a hot shop and a furnace were necessary, as I had seen for glass blowing.
I bought the bracelet, and didn’t really think any more about it. But life has a way of throwing apparent co-incidences at you, and a couple of months later I once again found myself thinking about the making of glass beads.
My long suffering husband was wandering around the Hobbycraft show at the NEC, begging me not to make him look at any more stamps or ink pads (I was dabbling in papercrafting at the time). Then we came across Martin Tuffnell, from Tuffnell Glass. And he was making glass beads, right there, in front of me!
I was mesmerised by the coloured rods turning red, then melting and magically transforming into round glass beads. And when I found out that they were selling starter kits, I was sold. That’s how it began, the next day, on the kitchen table with a can of MAPP gas and a hot head. I still have those first, wobbly beads I made.
I got ‘Passing the Flame’ for Christmas (by Corina Tettinger, in my opinion a must have book for a beginner lampworker) and started making stuff that was semi-decent. Well, at least they were more or less round and had some decoration on them. I started to research on the internet, and came across the website for Diana East, and that changed everything.
I’m really lucky that Di’s studio is so close to me, about 20 minute’s drive, and I saw that she was running evening classes. When I arrived for my first class, I was blown away by the amazing glass on display in the studio, and by the possibilities that opened up. Di and the other students at the class were so friendly, and I was introduced to the Frit Happens Forum.
By the spring, it was clear that this was going to be more than just a fad. I collected my new torch, a Nortel Minor, and oxycon from Tuffnell’s at the Flame Off in April 2012. With a tank of propane being required, my husband decided it was time to move me from the kitchen table (which was also gathering a lovely collection of scorch marks, despite the tiles put down to protect it). He cleared one end of his shed for me, and my studio was set up in the corner.
I’ve never looked back! Glass is now a passion and obsession for me, melting it, talking about it, looking at it and, of course, adding to my glass rod collection. You can never have too much glass!