Homegirl London pays homage to Charlotte Sale. She’s the talented glass artist extraordinaire. Charlotte’s her name and glass is her game … as long as it’s ascetically awesome and lovingly handmade. Her talents include glass blowing, lampworking, kiln forming, sandblasting and stained glass which becomes evident when you see her wonderful work. She is well known for her hand-blown Spritz glass bowls where she’s captured the movement of a drop of water making impact in slow motion. Charlotte makes her pieces to order so you get to choose the size and colour. Her work retails in the likes to Liberty, Southbank Centre, Contemporary Applied Arts, Neville Johnson, Wilson Stephens and Jones, Great British Designs and Not on the Highstreet. I caught up with Charlotte to talk glass blowing and inspiration …
Q: What inspired you to become a glass artist?
A: Well, I’ve always been fascinated with clear materials – for example I liked to heat up plastic at school and make shapes – then my teacher said that wasn’t a good thing to do and she sent me up to the science department where they made the scientific glass and I was so inspired. I then went to Wimbledon for my foundation year and they got me in to kiln formed glass and I went along to a vacuum forming company and worked with them to create some unusual bowls and lighting! When it was time for UCAS I was talking through courses with my tutor and he mentioned Edinburgh Glass Blowing – I thought ‘Wow what a course to do!’ So it went from there …
Q: Why do you love working with glass?
A: I love the challenge of the material. It takes time to think of the best possible way to make the design you come up with – then you get in the ‘hotshop’ and start playing around with ideas – which takes you on a completely different path and you make something you didn’t even think of. It’s a very spontaneous and organic material to work with. I love organic forms – so glass is the perfect material. I like to let it do what it wants to!
Q: How long did it take you to perfect glass blowing?
A: Wow – well I think it would take 40 years+ of glass blowing every day to be able to walk in and make what you have in mind. It is a skill you have to keep up regularly otherwise you can get out of practice. I think I lend to my pieces by allowing; ‘a little bit here and a little bit there’ which is what’s great about the material. People like bubbles, wonky and not perfect vessels – this is what gives the pieces character and also what makes the material fun to play with! It is definitely ‘time’ that helps you become a good glass blower. I think the most I have blown was at college – and I could get in the hotshop about 3 times a week and we could make to our hearts content. By the end of the 3 years I was confident going in there and making away! There is always so much to learn and so many techniques to conquer.
Q: Is it tiring blowing glass?
A: It is tiring – because you have to work on one piece constantly and your adrenaline is working two fold. You are stood in front of the 600 degree plus heat and having to rotate the iron, mould the glass, reheat, blow, up and down … so you are constant. Some of my pieces can take one and a half hours. So by the end of it – especially the larger items are very heavy – you want to have an hours rest!
Q: Tell me more about your trademark Spritz collection – what was the inspiration behind it?
A: The Spritz was a great piece that I found ‘by accident’! I was making in the hotshop and wanted to create textures on vessels. I tried lamp working and applying them to the vessel and then I put hot glass on to a vessel and pulled it with tweezers and used other tools to create textures. So I would make the vessel, then apply a hot blob of glass and work it in to a texture. I would then reheat to smooth it off. One of the vessels I heated up far too much and thought ‘Wow – I’ll just go with this’ and it turned in to a ‘semi’ Spritz. I then worked on the idea and perfected it!
Q: Aside from the Spritz range, what other products do you make?
A: While working on the Spritz it has many stages of the process … this brought about the Papaver Vessels – which are the beginning stages of the Spritz and also the Acorn Cups. They are a variation of a theme, as it were. I’ve always wanted to have more than one item on the shop floor – so diversified a little and make lamp worked items – such as my Curiosities Shelf and Charms of Natural Science. Commissions tend to make my work go down avenues I wouldn’t dream of. I’m currently working with a restaurant to make their tableware and this is something I would not have done without their prompting! It is fantastic.
Q: Do you have many of your pieces at home?
A: I used to have some seconds at home and then I started to lose the love for them. So about four years ago I said that I would never have any of my own glass at home. Today I only have one mini Spritz which is absolutely perfect in every way and I couldn’t sell it so it sits on my window ledge! But that is the only piece – because I work with glass every day I like to keep my mind open to new ideas out of the studio!
Q: What are you working on for the rest of this year?
A: I’m currently working with a Museum in London making wares for their new retail shop. They have asked me to make glass objects based on the Museum – so the public can take a luxury souvenir away with them. I’m also working with a restaurant on a huge tableware commission and in talks with Liberty to bring out a new collection with them – which is really exciting! I work regularly on private commissions for homes and businesses. I’m also looking forward to showing at the Lustre exhibition this year.
You can buy selected pieces from a number of stockists (see introduction) which can be found at www.charlottesaleglass.com or commission a bespoke piece. Credits: text by Homegirl London, images courtesy of Charlotte Sale, special thanks to Charlotte Sale.
Aqua Coral, £800
Spritz, prices range from £80-750
Two tone Spritz, prices range from £80-750
Acorn Cups, prices range from £50-150
Aubergine Papaver, £250