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.


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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

You can also follow him on Facebook

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.

Business and Marketing

Why it is important to buy more from small business!

We should all make more of an effort to start shopping from small business and local businesses where possible for Christmas and throughout the year. If we just take the time to look we will find there are so many wonderful small businesses offering quality products and excellent customer service. 

I have found small/medium business in my local town, at fairs, on social media and also Etsy is a great place to find amazing products from small business owners.

Almost all of the Christmas presents I have bought this year have been from small business and not a single present has been bought from a supermarket.

The benefits of shopping small –

Unique – If you buy from a smaller business your gift will be unique especially when you buy a handmade item. If you buy from large retailers they always seem to have the same old gift sets year after year and they sell them by the thousands, so there is a high chance that the person you are giving the gift to may have already been given it by someone else. With the growth of the internet you can access so many small businesses making unique handmade items and a lot of the time you can have them customised or personalised.

Shows thought and effort – buying your Christmas presents from a small business shows that you have put thought and effort into the gifts that you are giving and not just made a quick dash to the supermarket to pick up the 3 for 2 gift set available.

Appreciation – Not only will the person buying the gift appreciate it but the person you are buying from will also appreciate every item they sell. You will be making 2 people happy with one gift and there will definitely be some happy dancing going on. Small businesses appreciate every product they sell.

Economy –  Small business are key to economic growth with over 99% of all business in Britain being classed as small or medium*. When buying from a small business they are more likely to contribute back to the UK economy, this is because they will be spending the money they make in their local town on local business and most small business support each other so will buy from other small businesses like themselves. Also you can trace where the products have come from and who has made them.

Customer service – The customer service that you receive from small business is always far higher than you would receive from big stores. I have always found they take the time to listen to your needs and are always on hand to answer questions and can tell you everything you need to know about their products.

There are so many benefits to shopping from small business and local ones when possible. I have bought a lot of presents from small businesses this Christmas and although I can not share with you the presents I have bought, below is a list of small businesses that I have used this past year, with a few pictures of items that are not this year’s Christmas presents.

Art by Three  – This is owned by triplets who are very talented artists and as well as their paintings they sell make-up bags and tote bags with their stunning artwork on.


Pip’s Emporium – sells beautiful and unique handmade bags with eye catching fabrics.

Krafty Claires – sells beautiful handmade custom wood burnt designs  


Emotive Glass – sells the most amazing glass engravings and can do custom designs. Steven is also my brother so I am biased but take a look at his work and I am sure you will agree with me it is stunning.


The Soap Boutique – beautiful handmade soaps and bath bombs

Neptune Clothing – eco friendly clothing store selling recycled clothing made from plastic bottles. Their clothes are so soft and comfortable.


Ladies that plan – amazing planners for busy women, these planners have everything you will ever need to stay organised.


Donna Connolly Art beautiful pet portraits and animal pictures.

Brendon Books – Our local independent book shop

Monkton Elm Garden centre

Our local family run garden centre 


Why not take a look at my other posts –

What is Network Marketing

Child friendly business networking with Mums in Business Association

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