If you are ever in the Carmarthenshire area you must go and visit Moira White of Moriath Glass, a delightful studio in a tiny village called Cwmpengraig near Newcastle Emlyn
I had the pleasure of visiting this tiny studio in the heart of the countryside a week ago to see Moira at work.
Tell me a bit about your background About 20 years ago I started painting and stencilling on wood and then progressed into glass and started experimenting putting colour into glass. I bought a kiln locally and started selling my work in National Trust shops and at fairs. I opened a studio here at Cwmpengraig 5 years ago, I also sell at Origin in Carmarthen & Craft Alive in Llandeilio and of course on http://www.pembrokeshirecreations.com
Describe the process of making fused glass Some of the jewellery is created as individual pieces but most of my work is created from a larger slab of pre-fused glass.
First I choose the main base colour glass. Onto this I lay fragments of dichroic glass, coloured glass, glass powders, cut copper sheet, mica powders and glass stringers.
Lastly I cover the whole piece in a layer of clear glass cut to the right size for a glossy finish. Or if I want a more textured piece I will lay strips of clear glass across the base glass to give a rippled finish. Sometimes I place yet another layer or two on top again to give a really strong sense of depth to the piece.
The layered-up glass then goes into the kiln and is fired up to 760 – 800 C. As the glass heats up it becomes sticky and fuses together to form one piece. The firing takes a couple of days – the kiln only takes about 4 hours to reach the fusing temperature, but it takes a long time to cool down! This cooling is extremely important and can’t be rushed! If the glass is not cooled/annealed at the proper rate it can fracture under the strain and hours of work are wasted.
Once fully cool, the pre-fused slab can be cut and shaped with diamond circular-saws and ring-saws, and any sharp edges smoothed with a grinder. The individual pieces then go back into the kiln at a lower firing so that the cut edges can be fire-polished to give a smooth glassy finish.
If I’m using a pre-formed glass bail, this can be fused on at this stage – the pendant is balanced on the bail in the kiln and as the edged are polished the pendant will stick to the bail and become one piece.Otherwise, a sterling silver bail is attached with epoxy glue after the final firing. Or I will wrap the glass in sterling silver wire.
Depending on the finished design of the pendant each piece will have been through the kiln between one and three times, although basically it keeps going back in the kiln until I’m happy with the result!
From what do you draw your inspiration from? Living close to the land on a small holding in west Wales I am immersed in the landscape – from big skies of shifting shadows to a small beetle hiding under a leaf in the polytunnel. I draw my inspiration from the colours I see every day all around me.
Finally what other makers work do you admire? I love Graham Grace’s work, he puts so much detail into every painting.
You can see and purchase Moriath Glass Jewellery from www.pembrokeshirecreations.com