A long time ago in a land far away… well, okay, not that long ago and it was only the NSW North Coast… a small girl child was born into a family of creative people, her grandmother a potter, her grandfather a painter and her mother the sort of person who liked to do a little bit of everything.
For many years they played happily together on all sorts of projects; drawing, painting, rug hooking, crochet, dyeing, sewing, embroidery, knitting, paper mache, papermaking, bookmaking, calligraphy, writing, felting, even macrame.
(anyone care to guess which of these little cuties is which?)
And then one day some years later, after they’d moved to Sydney, Penel signed up for a beadmaking class in a local community college, having spent the last few years looking longingly through an early book on lampwork and wondering how she might ever get to have a go. This was before we had the internet and down at the bottom of the world information and supplies were both hard to come by.
In great excitement for three hours a week she sweated in a hot little room using a Hothead torch in a class full of women all struggling to learn how to work with this amazing molten stuff. Before the term was over she’d bought her own torch and a small stash of glass - including three large jars of transparent frit which all these years later have still hardly been touched.
The next decade can be counted in torches; from the noisy gassy Hothead to a Minor burner running on a 5lpm oxygen concentrator, to a Midrange running on 2 x 10 lpm concentrators, a GTT Phantom and a few Crickets for fellow glass nuts who would come to do workshops with visiting teachers.
A move to the Northern Beaches and a house with a suitable space for an indoor studio was a great excuse for more torches, a couple of Bethlehem Bravo’s and a Champion, and the hooking up of tanked oxygen meant that workshops and classes in borosilicate and soft glass were now an option. No more sweating out in the garage, now we could do it in style!
In all this time Que had resisted having a go at glass, content with her own passions of creating intricate illustrations and cloth mache creatures and not really interested in glass beads, but finally in 2013 she relented and after watching Penel make a few off-mandrel leaves and other shapes she lit her torch and made this piece. Penel was amazed and Que was hooked.
For a few years Que had to be content with working glass only while on holiday, visiting Penel or taking road trips together to attend workshops, but in 2018 she was finally able to set up a studio at home and ever since then every spare hour she has you can find her downstairs in there, creating unicorns and dragons and all sorts of other creatures as well as some truly exquisite botanically inspired sculptures.
When 2020 arrived with all of its problems and we could no longer visit each other regularly we decided to spend time working on something together that we could do long distance and we’re very happy to launch the new Glass Mad website to celebrate something good to come out of that difficult year. It’s been lovely having an excuse to spend even more time talking on the phone than usual! long may it continue!
The amazing spiderwoman below shows Que's progress in flameworking in a few short years, from that first little botanical to this. Reminds me of a Dr. Who episode!