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Author Topic: AOTM May 2009 - Diane Turton  (Read 4299 times)
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I hold with those who favor fire.
Posts: 869

I'm working on a dream...

« on: May 04, 2009, 12:07:30 PM »

Diane Turton

My first encounter with lampworking was actually in Waterstones Bookshop in Manchester about ten years ago. I was browsing the art and craft section as I always did in that shop and just by chance came upon the Cindy Jenkins book Making Glass Beads. My husband’s comment was ‘Oh no – not another hobby’ and I returned the book to its shelf.  I went home and dreamt about that book for two weeks and just had to return to Manchester in the hope that it was still there.  Fortunately it was and that was the beginning of my lampworking experience. I found out as much as I could about beadmaking and that there was a small band of lampworkers in this country.  I sought out Diana East and took a weekend course with her which just blew me away.

At that time there was so little available in the way of equipment, not to mention the availability of glass for the beadmaker but Barbara and Richard Beadman (what an apt name) from Plowden and Thompson came to the rescue  and my initial set up was a Nortel minor torch with an oxygen cylinder one side and a propane cylinder the other – people thought I was completely mad – which I probably was (and pleased to say, still am).  I had a small glass annealing kiln made by Plowden and Thompson (I think I had No 9) which is still going strong today but which has been retired and updated with a new Maxine.

I  have taken several more courses at  Plowdens and with Diana East and the last course was with Dora Schubert two years ago.  Her beads and skill with such fine stringer work are amazing to observe but totally impossible for me to emulate. I suppose my style is more organic and my approach is bung it on and see what happens sometimes with the most amazing if far from beautiful results!  I don’t have a particular style of bead I could call a signature.  Every time I sit at the torch something different seems to emerge and I think that’s what is so fascinating. It’s not always what you envisaged but always interesting.

Over the years I have dipped in and out of various hobbies and  my background is in textiles – initially dressmaking and then later I took a City and Guilds five year course in creative embroidery and then an HNC in mixed media with textiles – both of which were totally absorbing and  involved  lots of different elements including life drawing and design. Oh – I nearly forgot – I also make dolls – originally cloth with painted faces and then porcelain and now I sculpt fimo and sculpey heads and limbs with articulated cloth bodies. Usually they are fantasy and fairytale figures but I don’t like those half naked miniatures you see on ebay – totally not my style.

I love colour and if  I’m ever stuck  for inspiration I delve into my stash of silk and patchwork fabrics – it’s amazing the colour combinations to be found in a textile piece. I am also intrigued by the patterns and designs to be found in nature – a never-ending source of inspiration.

Having just returned from the Flame Off at Towcester, I was thrilled to see the number of talented lampworkers who were there and the diversity of  their skills. Working with glass certainly has a seductive quality which I haven’t found in any other area of art or craft  and it definitely has me, and obviously a number of others, under it’s spell.  It was great to meet in person so many lovely Frit Happens members and I hope our lampworking community continues to prosper and grow.

I have recently returned to using textiles and have been selling my silk ribbons and strings along with beads from my website ( and also through my etsy shop ( As for the future – I plan to share a stall at Nantwich Bead Fair with my chums Karen Baildon (Cheeky Cherub Designs) and Diane Cook (Dilunah)  on the 24th May  and goodness knows what will happen after that.


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