Stevie Davies in her studio in Wirksworth

Studio Chat with Stevie Davies

Wed, 01/06/2022 - 11:02

Stevie Davies has been with Banks Mill for many years, first as an affiliate member, then taking a studio back in 2012.  Her most recent venture has been setting up her new Create Space in Wirksworth where she has just reached her first anniversary.  We took five minutes to catch up with Stevie.

Tell me a bit about yourself/business/practice?
I’ve been working as a contemporary fused glass artist and tutor for over 14 years since finishing my degree. Based in Derby, 6.5 years in Banks Mill, but now working full time from my studio gallery in Wirksworth.  I create work in my own signature style to exhibit at galleries and events throughout the country, often enjoying the challenge of commission pieces and am happy to be asked to spend time with individuals and groups to help them create their own fused glass at many different types of workshops.

What are you currently grappling with in the studio?
The beginning of June means it’s a whole year of using my new studio and gallery.  Being open to the public a few days a week as a place to browse handmade goodies, showcasing a variety of other artists work as well as selling my own is something that I truly enjoy. Wirksworth is such a fabulous market town full of independent businesses and no chain stores, people visit from all over the country and it’s a wonderful place to spend time, making and talking about my work. I am however struggling with my desire to balance my own creative practice without the extra work of manning a “shop”.  I also want a personal life and so am in the process of looking for weekend staff to man to shop and help develop the gallery even further.

Do you have any rituals in the studio, what are they?
Every day is different but each week I make a promise to myself that I will take a walk up to the Stardisc, a celestial amphitheatre that was created by Aidan Shingler.  Aidan is a lovely man that I have had the honour of meeting a few times. Once I get there, I spend a bit of time to myself, thinking and reflecting while enjoying the countryside and the fresh air. It has become one of my favourite places to be.  I’d recommend a visit, as it is less that 15mins from my gallery door and surrounded by an area called Stoney Woods, which is also full of installations/sculptures. Just a wonderful place to walk around or sit and admire the view, once you get to the top of the hill. 

What’s your preferred medium/what do you work with?
Glass, specifically glass fusing. Also known as Kiln Formed or Warm Glass.  I cut, shape and layer sheets of coloured glass along other design elements before firing it all together in a kiln to temperatures which vary from 610⁰C - 800⁰C depending on the process and desired finish. I use a specialist art glass, a type called Bullseye as it is manufactured specifically for fusing/casting/lampworking and the American company produces some truly amazing colours in the range.

What do you have planned for future work?
I’ve decided to keep 2022 quite quiet with regards to shows and making new work.  I have a few select galleries and exhibitions to make work for, Sculpture at Doddington Hall & Gardens (16 July - 11 September) being one.  I then love to go out to festivals like Six Streets (Derby 25th & 26th June) and Melbourne (South Derbyshire 17th & 18th Sept) with a range of my work, its nice to see returning visitors each year and talk about whats new with my work. But, what I know I need to plan time to do is make more pieces for me to show and sell in the studio gallery, especially, dare I say it, in the run up to Christmas.

Who/What Inspires you and your work?
Although commissions can be inspired by anything, a logo or motif, your wall paper or a piece of fabric, I tend to work intuitively with the glass and my preferred colour palette. I like to make a body of work at one time, for a specific show/event.  A series of sculptures, bowls or wall panels in a certain style/form but using different colours.  It is more about the material itself and the colours/textures that I can create with it over any specific theme. I like the abstract nature of this compared to landscapes, animals, architecture etc BUT I encourage individuals to tell me what they see in a piece, its ranges from coral reefs to the milky way, from ice to brandy snaps. It is truly fascinating.

Do you have any helpful resources/advice that you would recommend to other artists and makers?
Its ok if building the practice/business/career you want takes time. It took me 10 years after my degree, working within creative organisations, learning and gradually adjusting the balance from full time employment with my art as a side line to less than 15 hours a week working for someone else to now, and for the last 3 years, earning my living as a full time maker.  Every opportunity, new experience and connection teaches you something. 

Which guests would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
I’m afraid I can’t answer these sorts of questions, I’ve always been a little cynical when it comes to hypothetical scenarios and tend to want to only think about working towards achievable outcomes.  I do have a great number of close friends all from different walks of life, all who inspire and encourage me in their own way.  I would quite like to get them all in one room, as most have never met each other, and pick their brains as well as seeing all their smiling faces at once.

If you weren’t an artist/maker and could choose any career, what would it be?
There just isn’t any other option for me.  

What have you celebrated in the last 12 months, personally or professionally?

June 3rd is officially one year of being in Wirksworth, it was great to be able to trial the set up for six months before taking on more of the space…. And a much bigger commitment. It’s working for me, my arts practice and my business. I just have too many ideas to develop it but can’t do them alone.

To find out more about Stevie and her gallery visit her website  and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

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