Glass maker Amanda Simmons works from her studio Corsack Glass in Castle Douglas.
It took Amanda many years to find glass, with a career as an Apprentice Engineer with BT, a degree in Pharmacology, and experience as a Clinical Perfusionist behind her before she attended a stained glass summer school at the Institute of Modern Art, London.
From the stained glass course, Amanda went on to Westminster Adult Education College, taking all the modules they offered in kiln-formed glass. She started up her first studio in her mum's garage, while working locum part-time.
From adult education, university beckoned.
“As I already had two BSc degrees, I didn’t want to do another undergraduate course but was accepted onto the Postgraduate Certificate course in Glass and Architecture at Central St Martin’s with Caroline Swash and Helen Maurer. This intensive one year course really helped in my confidence to take my work full-time once we re-located to Dumfries and Galloway.”
In her studio, Amanda creates beautiful glass vessel forms and cameo engraved wall based work. She uses opaque glass, sheet and powder form.
“With both sides of my practice I build up layers of colour, one to be stretched, mixing new colours as it falls, and the other where the coloured layers are exposed with diamond coated tools. Current themes of inspiration include love and baking, the local changing landscape (particularly the weather) and the use of vessels throughout the centuries.”
“I love the physical and chemical challenges working with glass brings, for me it consolidates what I have learnt in previous science based careers. The vessels I make are particularly challenging because there are so many variables to consider at all stages, I have brought my failure rate down but I still learn from every firing I do and keep pushing the boundaries of gravity within the kiln.”
It's been a busy year for Amanda and looks set to continue with shows, teaching, and exhibitions. She will exhibit at Origin this September for the second year, participate in the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester, and participate in Lustre this November.
“Selling direct once in a while gives you an idea of what people like about your work but this will be my busiest year ever so I’m hoping my stand won’t be too minimal! Then I am able to hibernate for the winter months (impossible for me to keep my workshop habitable at minus 12 degrees c). This is generally when I catch up on designing and sleep!”
For Amanda, the switch from science to glass making was the right decision. “I really appreciate my situation working as a maker which is really a life not a job. I love the unpredictability of it and the opportunities that come up. Keeps you on your toes and never bored.”