Keen to know more about slumping? Head to a mudbrick workshop building in Fountaindale and all will be revealed.
Nestling in a tranquil valley at the end of Peach Orchard Road is the home and studio of Clare Peters who has been running glass art courses for the last 20 years. She has won a raft of prestigious awards, her work is recognised internationally, and several pieces are on permanent display at major Australian galleries.
‘It had all begun with lead-lighting,’ she explained, ‘and then developed into other fields, particularly kiln work.’
It is in a kiln, heated between 600 to 900 degrees Celsius, that flat glass is fused, slumped and textured. ‘Slumping’ is when the melted glass is put into a mould and sags down into the shape of that mould. (The art of glass ‘blowing’ is a completely different procedure undertaken at much higher temperatures).
Clare’s early years were as a cardiac specialist nurse but, in 2003, she left to establish her studio. But she wanted to do more than settle down in Fountaindale. ‘In order to take my craft to a professional level, my husband, David, and I moved to the ACT in 2012 where I studied at the ANU’s School of Art & Design’s Glass Workshop.’
Three years later she completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts with First Class Honours (Glass).
Clare developed a unique process of working in this medium while she was still studying and this has resulted in the creation of some of the exquisite pieces on view at her Central Coast studio.
‘I used multiple layered fused glass and light to explore the expression of my theme,’ she said. ‘And text selected from writings such as the Psalms or Proverbs, and then deconstructed the passages and reapplied them to the glass in layers.
‘My aim was to create works which allowed the beauty and the hope in life to be revealed.’
Her art is inspiring, as is her teaching. There is an atmosphere of gentle creativity in the studio. Around the mudbrick walls are tiles, tools and colourful rows of glass, with the mighty kilns in the background waiting to work their magic on her pupils’ designs.
Many attend her classes to catch their breath and be restored. ‘One lady, who’s been coming for over 15 years, told me it’s much cheaper than going to a therapist,’ said Clare, who is assisted by her husband during these weekend sessions.
‘David has been instrumental in building the studio and is now working on the extensions where he has incorporated many local materials. We used our home-grown Australian cedar trees which we had milled into door jambs and architraves, and we installed a whole lot of cedar timber windows originally from a house in Killcare which had been destroyed by hailstorms.
‘David will soon be teaching some mudbrick-making courses here and we’ll use the bricks to help finish the studio.’
Clare is excited at the prospect of having a little gallery, but most important is having more space in which to create.
‘When you’re a maker you need to make, without there necessarily being any end goal in mind – and that’s what I’m aiming for, as well as regularly holding courses and workshops.’
The United Nations General Assembly determined that 2022 is The International Year of Glass – a good excuse to try your hand at slumping, perhaps?
WORDS SUZY JARRATT