I started at art school at 17 and although I always felt my destiny was to be a sculptor; the desire to earn a decent living led me to study furniture and product design at degree level. When I left Kingston, in the middle of a deep recession, all I wanted to do was to set up a market stall and sell things that I’d made. The drawback was having the money to buy the raw materials to make anything in the first place. So, I ended up working for a firm of architects on a short-term contract to earn the cash to do so. Two years later I had to concede I’d become an interior designer. This led to a long career working in many sectors – public, residential, retail and exhibition. I learnt a lot, had a great time and made some great friends along the way. Although I thought I’d have more time to pursue my making passion when I started a family; freelance work paid the bills and filled the hours I wasn’t being a mum.
Lockdown in many ways has been a blessing for me. As I could no longer do anything that wasn’t home based. It forced me to assess what I really should be doing career wise as my industry had taken a nosedive.
One Christmas, years ago I had asked my husband to buy me a cheap hobby kiln. As I have always loved glass and the three-dimensional depth and purity of colour within it, I had hoped to experiment with this material. However, coming to grips with firing schedules had stood as a rather silly obstacle for far too long. Lockdown gave me the time to study this dark alchemy and it was almost a week before I blew that kiln up! Then I slogged through the technical details of firing schedules properly. Along with everything I could find out about glass compatibility and brought a new kiln.
Now, although every time I put something in the kiln it’s still an experiment, I never want to lose that sense of play. Equally over the years of experimenting with many materials I have enjoyed the endless possibilities there are in combining textures that I have grown to adore. Whether it’s timber, metal, leather, flint, plaster or something more obscure; there is a distinctive relationship I have with them all; and a respect for their limitations and potential. I can’t imagine sticking to one material forever, but I am now fully immersed in the love affair I’m having with glass and feel I’m at the beginning of a long and rewarding journey. There’s so much to learn and so many ideas I want to put into practice, that I think it’s safe to assume my new kiln will have a long and hard life.
Finally, the next best thing to my original dream of setting up a market stall, in our COVID world, is a virtual one. I am grateful to makers market from home for setting up and supporting such an exciting platform.
Watch Andrea’s interview on our Midday Makers series on IGTV.
Visit her Instagram @dandyliondesignalv