Featured Artist: Diomo Glass

Stained glass windows in Hampton Court's Great Watching Chamber. Source: wikipedia.com

Stained glass windows in Hampton Court’s Great Watching Chamber.
Source: wikipedia.com

Diomo Glass is run by 39-year-old Susan Morris, who’s been working with stained glass for over 10 years. Since founding the business in 2008, she’s worked from her home, now in Rye, East Sussex, UK.

Susan’s interest in glass began while working at Hampton Court Palace, surrounded by the Great Hall’s Victorian stained-glass windows; but the trigger to get hands-on came when an information pack for an adult-education course dropped through her door, and she realised she wanted to find out how stained glass windows were actually made!

Learning the art
Spending the time to properly learn the art made all the difference: rather than being scared by a pile of glass, it inspires her, giving her a kind of confidence she feels she doesn’t have with other things. It has also taught her to respect her medium, and despite the inherent dangers of working with hot and sharp things, she says she can’t remember the last time she reached for a plaster! Susan also accepts that things don’t always quite go to plan – especially if you want to be innovative – and she keeps all her test pieces as a record of the her art’s natural progression. Clearly passionate about her work, she describes herself as at her best when she has a project on the go. “It’s all consuming,” she says. “Nothing else matters when I’m working!” And like me in yarn shops, she admits to drooling in the warehouse of her glass-supplier!

Inspired by the sea: seagull bunting.

Inspired by the sea: seagull bunting.

Although inspired by artists such as Gentileschi and Da Vinci, Rosetti and Millais (“and there’s Dali, Escher, Rembrandt… I could go on!”), she says her inspiration never comes from just one place or person. Instead, she explains how such artists “create a feeling,” drawing her into their work, and encouraging her to study the details – and it’s that attention to detail that people will see in Susan’s finished designs. She also draws on her love of gardening, living on the coast, and tea! But, overall, she says, her ideas can come from “almost anywhere.”

A flexible medium!
Susan describes glass as a flexible medium, (in aesthetic rather than physical terms!): as one strong enough to protect us from the weather, but beautiful enough to be homely and personal. “I love the fact that I can see beyond the cold, hard stuff and see curvy shapes, colourful designs, something traditional or contemporary,” she says. “Give me any combination of colours, and I’ll see an idea!”

Diomo Glass's rainbow-ammonite logo, available in textured-glass versions too.

Diomo Glass’s rainbow-ammonite logo, available in textured-glass versions too.

Diomo Glass undertakes restorations too, and Susan’s favourite thing to work on is “the most sad looking, grubby broken window” – she loves being able to make it shine again… despite the bird poo! As far as new creations are concerned, her favourite works are her rainbow spiral (ammonite) panels. “I’ve made lots of them,” she says. “Every single one has been different. I like them so much I have a rainbow one and a clear textured glass version.” When you visit her website, you’ll see the spiral is her logo.

A more professional setting
Working from home is great for the morning commute, but like many of us, Susan finds it has its limitations: with a rapidly expanding business, it’s not always convenient to take deliveries of large pieces of glass in a home environment, the sales opportunities for smaller pieces is limited, and she feels she wants to offer her customers a more professional setting, as well as provide a more suitable space for running courses. Opening a shop, she says, “seems like the next logical step”!

With that in mind, Susan is planning to open a dedicated stained-glass shop and workshop in Rye, Sussex. Situated on the UK’s south coast, Rye is popular with day-trippers, weekend visitors, and tourists from around the world. “It’s is such a lovely place,” she says. “It has an artistic feel about it and a sense of community – we’re lucky to live here.” Diomo Glass already has an international customer-base, but Susan is keen to export more – something a proper workshop will provide space for. She also feels she will be better able to support fellow handmade makers, which is something else she’s particularly keen to do.

Pledge support for Susan's crowdfund, and get a lesson in stained glass in return!

Pledge support for Susan’s crowdfund, and get a lesson in stained glass in return!

With all this in mind, Susan is crowdfunding the means to start her shop: offering lessons in stained glass making, and items from her range, in exchange for pledges towards her shop fund. Really, this just means she is inviting people to buy what they would normally buy, just at a specific time. Now! The downside of crowdfunding, is if the whole sum of £30,000 isn’t raised by 7th August, the fund doesn’t receive any of the pledges. So, please consider pledging your support as soon as possible. I have!

I asked Susan what dreams she had for the shop, she said, “a little shop that people would like to come into, buy a gift, ask a question, commission windows, learn something new, or have problems solved. I don’t need to be big and I’m not thinking ‘world domination’! Just to be useful to people.”

How to support Susan…
I’ve supported Susan’s crowdfunder by booking a half-day course in making stained glass. Please consider offering your support too – before the 7th August! Every pledge over £10 receives something in return – from a keyring to a 3-day course – and every pledge is a step closer to Susan employing someone to paint a shop sign saying “Diomo Glass”!

Susan’s crowdfunder page, where you can securely make your pledges, is here:

Diomo Glass offers a wide range of products as well as repairs and restoration. See Susan’s website here: http://www.diomoglass.co.uk, and you can find her on Twitter @DiomoGlass.

An example of Susan's restoration skills.

An example of Susan’s rebuilding skills.

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