James and John Barker’s colourful stall is full of hand fused glass pieces that are sure to lift the spirits…
What is hand fused glass?
It’s how we describe our process. Technically it should be kiln fused but we are so proud of how everything we make is handmade by us that we changed it slightly to hand fused glass’.
How did you begin making your glass creations?
As a ‘gag’ present, John bought me a microwave kiln five years ago which is exactly what it sounds like. It is very small but you can melt (fuse) glass in your microwave and I became obsessed with this alchemy! We joke that it was the worst present ever because now we have two kilns, a van, and a studio. I quit my job to do it full time and we travel the country doing shows – and have NEVER been happier.
Briefly describe the process involved in designing and creating one of your hand fused glass pieces.
We make these soap dishes which look so simple and yet take three firings in the kiln to get the effect. The first firing is to make the basic shape in coloured glass then 24 hours later I use some small chunks of glass called ‘frit’ to line the edges and lower the temperature so the frit remains textured. Then 24 hours later we use a ceramic mould, reduce the temperature again and it gently changes the shape. A simple soap dish which takes over three days to make — and looks fabulous!
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
We use nature to inspire us whenever we can; you only have to see our rainbow range to know that. But we also try and do things with fused glass that we don’t see other people doing, so we make pieces for the Pagan and Wiccan community. We have LGBTQ flags which can be worn as pendants – we love it when the first words out of peoples mouths at our stall are: ‘Oh this is unusual’. You are just as likely to see a skull, a fairy and a dragon on our stall as you will a meadow scene of poppies.
What have been your most popular designs?
Rainbows! I’m a little obsessed and if I can put a rainbow on it I will do so. They are just so colourful and happy, how can anyone not like them? And they lend themselves to glass so perfectly, from rainbow Christmas trees, rainbow hearts to rainbow jewellery. No day is bleak when there is a rainbow reminding you that the sun is just round the corner!
What designs can we expect to see this spring?
Boxes! John has been making wooden boxes from old pieces of wood which used to be our studio floor and I’m making glass tops for them. They look so rustic and are handmade from top to bottom. They sum up the Ye Green Men perfectly as we both make the end result and the sizes always come out different so you can have one small enough for an engagement ring, bigger for a tarot deck or maybe an original jewellery box.
We have also been experimenting with making these tie dye effect rainbow pebbles as well. They just conjure up images of the 60s and flower power and I love that. They also become very one-off pieces of jewellery as they can never be replicated.