Mar 222012

I have the great pleasure of introducing you all to Sally Sutherland – Metalsmith and Lampwork Artist. I am  a true fan, owning several of her lampwork pieces.

Tell us a bit about yourself……(where you are from, was art part of your upbringing)

I was raised in on the Norfolk coast (Norfolk in the UK) I grew up in a 16th century thatched cottage that had originally been two workmans cottages, it was my mothers house, her pride and joy.

I had a pretty idyllic childhood, no cares or worries, my Dad was a self employed builder and carpenter and my Mum was a potter amongst other things, she is great with a sewing machine and has made beautiful quilts for me and my kids Both my parents were very creative in very different ways, one of my most treasured possessions is a wooden stool that my Dad made, he made lots one Christmas when they couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents for all of the children of their friends and family.  To me that is a constant reminder that the best gifts are the ones that you make, that have care and consideration in them and that stand the test of time.

I suppose art/craft has been a fairly consistent part of my life from quite and early age, in terms of direction mine was not encouraged to be a particularly artistic one, at the time I was making those kinds of decisions my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died 11 months later. In hindsight it was easier to go along with what was expected and I had no real idea of what I wanted out of life.

After we lost Dad I went abroad as a Nanny, I worked for a family in Spain and then moved to Belgium.

On a visit home I was met at the airport by my brother and his friend ( the man I am now married to ( I am not entirely sure he knew what he was letting himself in for, I was a bit wild))

Where are you located now?

Now I live on the west coast of Scotland, not far from Glasgow, I love where we live, although its modern housing it really is in a brilliant location, twenty minutes in either direction you are in the city centre or the middle of nowhere, the scenery in either is incredible.

The only thing I miss is being near the beach, we do go to Norfolk every summer and spend a couple of weeks messing about on the beach, taking the kids gillying (an old fashioned method of catching crab using string and bacon) It never fails to restore a sense of balance and peace in me.

Describe your studio/creative space….

My husband and I rebuilt my workshop last year, previously I had been working in a damp and holey garden shed, now I have a lovely double glazed space that serves for both my jewellery making and my lampworking, its much warmer and dryer which really is essential in Scotland in the winter.

What do you love most about your space?

I love the fact that its mine, my work has paid for it.

I love the light, the old shed was pretty dark and gloomy with only one small window this space has four large windows that I could actually open if I wanted to  🙂

(I own this cutie!)

What would you change if you could?

There isn’t much I would change at the moment, however I know the rate at which I accumulate new tools and I dare say that at some point space will be an issue, but I am sure with some careful planning we can arrange it in a more effective way.

Also longer days would be a blessing.

What are your favorite materials/techniques?

At the moment I am very into foldforming, I finally bit the bullet last week and made my first pieces, I am waiting for the book to arrive so that I can really get stuck into it.

With my lampworking I always feel like I am at the tip of the iceburg in terms of technique, there are so many that I have not even tried yet.

How have you learned your craft?

I started taking an evening class in silversmithing when I was made redundant; however I also fell pregnant with my daughter around the same time and the smell in the workshop made me feel very ill, mostly I have taught my self from books, forums and the internet.

With the lampworking I was incredibly fortunate to be given some lessons by the amazing Amanda Magregor of Moogin, I had admired her beads and she invited me to come and ‘have a go’ needless to say four hours later (they passed in a flash) I was hooked and quickly bought a basic set up. Since the I have spent a lot of time experimenting to find out what works for me.

What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting out?

Don’t forget the power of the internet, most things can be found with a carefully worded google search. Forums are an  incredible source of information but ALWAYS give credit for where you have learnt something and ALWAYS make it your own. Never be scared to try something for the first time, if it goes wrong then you have already learnt something.

Who are some of your favourite artists/crafters?

Oh that’s tricky, there are so many talented people out there, I honestly couldn’t say that I have a particular favourite, there are so many that I have not even discovered yet. For me if there is an element of humour in something I usually fall in love with it.

What would we be surprised to find out about you?

It depends what you are surprised by 😀
If you couldn’t do what you are doing now — what would you do?

I can’t even consider that question, its too awful to contemplate, I cannot sit with idle hands, its unbearable, crafting is a compulsion, if it’s not jewellery or lampwork then I am making journals or felting, I really could not consider not having crafting in my life.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Laugh – A lot it really is the best medicine.

You can see more of Sally’s work here: