ABOUT JILL MATTHEW
Jill Matthew is a glass artist based in Cambridge. She greeted me in her studio with her husband and her gorgeous pixie girls peeking out from behind the door. A delightful family scene that made me smile.
Jill is a wonderful fused glass artist that found her art through trauma – a positive outcome from a significant life altering event. Jill was a Registered Nurse, having by the age of 26 years - worked her way up to Charge Nurse and Management before becoming extremely unwell with a viral condition called Transverse Myelitus. This condition attacks and inflames the spinal cord nerves and interrupts the messages sent by the spinal cord to the rest of the body. It affects around 4 people in New Zealand per year.
Jill has however, experienced recovery toward creativity and has overcome much of the physical effects of the virus which sent her life spinning in another direction. During her rehabilitation, Jill took a bead making course and ‘fell in love with melting glass’. She moved swiftly forward using a mini kiln that worked in the microwave and has continued to evolve her glass style from there. Eventually she decided she did not want her work to be inhibited by size and invested in the process of buying and importing a very large kiln from Australia named Margot. Margot worked very well alongside Harvey the skill saw and Henry the sandblaster.
The acquisition of Margot led to a commission of a beautiful fused art-glass splash back for a new home and Jill stretching and learning how to work on a larger scale. Jill showed me some of the techniques she uses in her works – being that I am absolutely in love with art glass myself, I found it fascinating.
Jill’s works are vibrant and bring real joy – she has an exquisite eye for color and fuses with works and incredible attention to detail as those who work with glass simply must have. Jill uses recycled glass and brings in organic materials such as sand to add texture and interest to her pieces. Commissioned pieces are available using sand from your local beach – adding a special and personal touch to the work.
"I love all types of glass art, but it is glass fusing that has captured my heart and imagination. I love how glass is such a constructive medium to work with; how I am able to transform sheet glass into wonderfully tactile and aesthetic artworks. I am inspired by the qualities of glass, the way it can be either transparent or opalescent in nature, or both and how heating these types of glass in a kiln generates depth and interest in a finished piece. While it is still early days in my artistic career, I have seen the transition in my pieces and myself and am always developing on ideas and shifting the focus as I progress. My glass adventures show me the sky is the limit, although I suspect there may never be enough kilns!
Kiln formed glass is the heating of glass layers, powders or shapes of glass in a kiln to many hundreds of degrees. The processes to produce one piece may involve several firings - many hours long each. I program the kiln to different schedules depending on the finish I want, the most common of which are: a full fuse, where the layers are heated to a smooth solid finish; a tack fuse where it is heated enough to stick to another layer, but only soften the edges slightly; or a slump which heats enough for the glass to sag into a shape or a mould. I use all these techniques to make my pieces. It is quite a science to understand the different stages glass needs to go through when heating in the kiln to avoid 'thermal shock' where the glass can crack either in the kiln or even after it's fired."