Categories
Inspirational Interviews

Interview with Award Winning Glass Engraver Steve Lee

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the talented Steve Lee, an award winning glass engraver, cancer survivor and my wonderful big brother.

Steve Lee is owner of Emotive Glass where he offers glass engraved pieces, custom engraved designs and he has now set up courses to teach others this amazing art. I know I am biased but his work speaks for itself and truly is stunning, the detail that goes into every piece is just jaw dropping.

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Tells us a bit about you?

Always a tough question! I suppose I’d be best described as a cat loving glass artist. Always learning, always with more art in my head than I can ever hope to achieve in just one lifetime.

I love nature. My wife, Donna, and I moved from Kent to Cornwall to be able to do the ‘hippy thing’ and commune with nature at every possible opportunity. This is reflected in my engraving where I tend to concentrate more on animal portraiture than any other subject.

Can you explain what glass engraving is?

In essence it’s a very simple art form; just scratches and dots on glass. The scratches and dots are built up very faintly and in increasingly bold strokes they form images. The finer the scratches the more detailed the image can become. Light conducting through the glass and interacting with the scratches makes the engraving stand out.

The form of glass engraving I specialise in is called stipple engraving. In this, images are built up using just tiny dots. The dots are made by repeatedly tapping a single solitaire Diamond point against the glass. This method allows for an almost photo realistic end result. With a little practice.

That’s the technical explanation. The more elegant explanation was coined by one of the late, greats of glass engraving Sir Lawrence Whistler. He described glass engraving as “Painting with Light”.

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How did you get into it?

I used to paint on silk. I loved working very fine detail with single hair brushes. The subject matter didn’t matter to me as much as the painting process, the technical challenge.

I’m very lucky in that my mother is a very talented crafts person. She had seen some glass engraving and thought I might enjoy it as it is as much a technical skill as an art form. She suggested I try it and brought me a small hobby drill and some engraving burrs (Diamond dust coated engraving tools). I can’t say that I was overly enthusiastic but as she had gone to the trouble of buying me some kit I thought it best I at least give it a go. So I engraved a rose on the glass front of my painting light box. That was nearly 30 years ago and aside from a few years where I didn’t engrave at all It’s been a constant companion to me ever since.

What do you love the most about running your business Emotive Glass?

The challenge each new piece represents. I always try to take on pieces that I’m not 100% sure I have the skill to pull off. When not engraving for clients I’m engraving practice pieces. Portraits, eyeballs, anything that represents a technical challenge. This way I’m always learning and always striving to become a better engraver.

My ultimate goal is to achieve photorealism. One of the nicest compliments anyone ever paid me was delivered as a dismissal. I was showing some work at a craft exhibition and an elderly gentleman was looking at some pieces. Shortly his wife bustled up to him, quickly glanced at my work and said “Come away dear, they’re only photographs”. I didn’t stop smiling for days.

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Do you have a favourite piece you have engraved, if so what was it and why is it your favourite?

Every piece I engrave is my favourite whilst I’m engraving it. Each piece is a journey from planning to finished article and I love those journeys!

But to single out one piece? I suppose it would have to be an engraving of a Kingfisher. For many long winded and trivial reasons, I had not seriously engraved for a good few years. Perhaps I’d managed 3 pieces in as many years. I eventually decided I was being an idiot and should dive back into the art with gusto. I remember setting up my work space and picking the most complicated piece I could think of to start off with, a kingfisher coming out of the water. Given the water, light, feathers I genuinely thought I couldn’t engrave it, but it came off first time. From that moment on I didn’t stop and actively sought to ‘make a go of it’ rather than just engrave as a hobby.

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You recently went through a tough time health wise after finding out you had cancer, how is your health now and how does this affect your business?

It’s been a very strange few years. Prior to Christmas 2016 I was very fit and active enjoying fencing, walking silly distances and archery. Then I suffered a serious back injury which meant I could no longer fence, or walk very far, or use a bow.

Not quite a year on, I was just coming out from under that cloud and I got whacked with kidney cancer. Which, ironically, I coped with far better than I coped with the back injury. I was very lucky in that it was caught quickly, and the NHS were amazing. It was all over before I had an opportunity to start to worry!

Mercifully, glass engraving only requires you to use your hands and brain so none of my health issues had any impact on my engraving. If anything, having engraving there as a constant helped as it acted as a kind of refuge. A place to go to and just be with no thought other than the glass.

You have just started up courses to teach this amazing art. What can people attend a course except to see?

I adapt each lesson to the person so regardless of experience each student will finish their first day with a completed piece to take home: After running through the tools, equipment and safety aspects we’ll dive straight in with some basic techniques. As soon as the student is comfortable, we’ll move those techniques on and produce a piece either from the student’s own artwork or using one of a library of templates I’ll have available.

You don’t need any pre-existing skills to learn how to engrave glass. You don’t need to be able to draw or paint so don’t worry if you don’t have these skills. By the end of the day I’ll have you engraving like a pro!

What products do you offer through Emotive Glass?

I offer bespoke engraving services specialising in portraiture both animal and human. If you can supply me with a sufficiently detailed photograph, I can produce an engraving. Engravings can be on flat, free standing glass or vases, wine glasses, basically any glass of a decent quality with an engravable area.

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Other than bespoke work, at some point in the future I hope to be selling an engraving tool of my own design. I’ve prototype it and now use it as my primary engraving tool. As soon as development funds become available I’ll move this project on.

If you would like to buy any of Steve Lee’s products or attend one of his courses then take a look at his website http://emotiveglass.com/

You can also follow him on Facebook www.facebook.com/emotiveglass

Why not take a look at my other posts with more inspirational people –

Interview with Best Selling Author and owner of Memory Zoo Katie Silverthorn

Interview with Cat at Cat Creation

Interview with children’s publisher Justin Davis

Lisa Norman shares her story of the premature birth of her son Neil

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought.

Categories
Inspirational Interviews

Interview with best selling Author and owner of Memory Zoo, Katie Silverthorne

I am honoured to be interviewing the inspirational Katie Silverthorne who is a best selling author and also the owner of a thriving business called Memory Zoo.

I have read Katie’s story a few times now from the bestselling book Mumpreneur on Fire 4 and every time I have read it I am blown away by how determined and positive she is in the face of suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. In spite of her health she has built up her business Memory Zoo where she turns old baby clothes or clothes from someone that has passed away in to beautiful handmade keepsakes. Her business has gone from strength to strength and she now employees 3 other seamstresses to help with the demand.

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Tell us a bit about you?

I am originally from London but now live outside Bristol. I am married with one child and a lovely big dog. I love to sew, knit, crochet, write and generally create anything and everything. The whole family is very creative, and we have a lot of fun making terrible messes!

I also love walking – especially in woodlands or up in the hills. I find it soothing, relaxing, stimulating and enlightening all at the same time. It’s complete nourishment for the soul.

What inspired you to start making Memory Bears?

Initially, I made a bear for my daughter when she was 1-years-old. I was folding away all her baby clothes and putting them into a box in the attic. I couldn’t bear to see them disappear forever and never be seen again, so I made a memory bear to remember her baby days.

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What is your favourite part of your business?

My favourite part is training my seamstresses – I am so incredibly proud of them and the work they do. They really are brilliant! I also love creating something for my customers that I know they are going to absolutely love. It’s such a thrill to see so many of the items I have made, so loved. I am particularly fond of the cushions that I make in honour of someone who has passed away – it’s such a privilege to be entrusted with something so special.

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How do you manage your MS around your business and motherhood?

I’ve had MS for 15 years now, but I am continually learning and developing. My needs have changed over the years and so has my approach to dealing with it. To start with, I have realised that alcohol, sugar, late nights and stress play a role in how ‘bad’ my MS becomes at any given time. I am therefore careful about my diet and often say ‘no’ to late nights. This means that I have the energy to do the things that are genuinely important to me – going for fun days out with my daughter, planning and creating new ideas for Memory Zoo, walking with the family.

I also have acupuncture twice a month to help deal with MS-related pain and fatigue. Oh, and never underestimate the importance of planning! Life is a balancing act but so is everyone’s. I just have a susceptible early warning system!

How did you feel when the book you co authored Mumpreneur on Fire 4 became a bestseller?

It was truly fabulous. I had never really talked about my MS before I wrote for MOF4, but now that I’ve started talking about it, I can’t stop! It seems to be so helpful to so many people, and I am so grateful that something that has shaped my life and made it a somewhat rocky journey can be an inspiration to others. That’s a fantastic feeling!

What plans do you have for the future?

So many plans! The first part of this year has been about making sure that the new systems I’ve been putting in place for Memory Zoo work and my seamstresses are trained, happy ans ready to go. I am currently narrating the audiobook version of MOF4 in my home studio which will be due out for release in the next few months. I have more audiobook work following after this as well, which is very exciting. I am also currently writing my full autobiography as 3000 words for the MOF4 chapter wasn’t really enough. There is so much more to say! 

You can take a look at Katie’s beautiful handmade keepsakes at https://www.memoryzoo.co.uk/about-us/

You can also find her on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/keepsakeanimals/

Follow the link if you would like to find out more about the best selling book Mumpreneur on Fire 4 and read Katie’s and 24 other amazing women’s stories.

Why not take a look other inspirational interviews –

Interview with award winning glass engraver Steven Lee

Interview with Cat at Cat Creation

Interview with children’s publisher Justin Davis

Lisa Norman shares her story of the premature birth of her son Neil

Some of my post contain affiliated links to products where I may receive a small fee if these products are bought


Categories
Product Reviews

Mumpreneur on Fire 3 Book Review

Wow, I have been left in awe of these 25 inspiring ladies that have been brave enough to share their stories in the new Mumpreneur on Fire 3 book! Yet again Mum’s in Business Association (MIBA) has produced an amazing book that has had me gripped the whole way through.

I have previously read ‘Mumpreneur on Fire 1 & 2’ and I was so lucky to have been selected to review the 3rd book before it is released. Again it is another great book which details the stories of 25 amazing ladies who have battled their way through troubled times and come out as successful mums running their own thriving business.

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Everyone of these ladies unique stories has inspired me, their hard work and dedication to succeed is mind blowing. I found reading about the hardships, struggles and traumatic experiences that these ladies have been through heartbreaking and their has been tears but to see how they have overcome their troubles to become happy successful business owners and are now sharing their story to help others find their way is just amazing.

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As each story is completely different it is like 25 mini  stories all in one great book that will leave you feeling inspired and motivated. The stories have all been written by the ladies themselves so you will find there are lots of different writing styles within the book which some are easier to follow along with than others but they all effectively communicate their experiences across and nearly all of them had me wanting to hear more.

This book helps show that being successful is not about how well educated you are it is about having the drive and determination to succeed. There is more to life than the 9-5 and you can be both a mum and successful in business as these mums have proved.

Order your copy here bit.ly/mof3preorder