Everything Grace makes, has ‘Home’ at its heart…
It took her quite a while to finally put down roots, and it was a derelict blacksmith’s forge and cottage that eventually pulled at her heart strings. (You can read a little bit about her journey, and the history of King’s Forge here.) Home means stability, love, family, food, shelter, celebrations, routine, warmth, friends. It holds memories of the past, and dreams of the future. It doesn’t matter how big or small, how modern or fancy. It is our home, whether permanent or transitory. But at its best, home comforts and encourages us, brings out the best in us, and makes us who we are. From the forge, now a contemporary fused glass studio, Grace makes a range of hand-crafted glass, all of which, she hopes, will add something special to the home of whoever receives it.
What is fused glass? Also known as kiln-formed glass, fusing involves cutting, grinding and layering specialist sheet-glass when cold. It is placed in a kiln, which is like an oven. The glass is slowly heated to very high temperatures (up to about 800 degrees Celsius), when it melts and ‘fuses’ to itself, then carefully cooled down again for strength (known as annealling), before the door can be opened. This is a craft that requires patience, and a little belief in magic! The fusing process takes between 13 hours and 72 hours, depending on the size of the kiln.
Every piece, from the smallest Christmas decoration up, is made individually by Grace, so no two pieces can ever be identical. Often when the glass is made, it will require one or more further firings, to add more details, or to ‘slump’ the glass into a mould, to make, for example, a bowl or a candle-holder.
Grace works exclusively with glass. Unlike stained glass, she does not use lead or copper to hold the pieces together, and it is not painted or glazed. It is purely glass, manipulated and melted to achieve the results that now form her popular range of homeware and giftware. Every piece is handmade by Grace in her studio on the hillside of Mullyash, high above Castleblayney, in County Monaghan.
Grace is inspired by the natural beauty of her rural surroundings. Her workbench overlooks the famous drumlins of County Monaghan and beyond, and provides her with a constantly changing landscape, that often makes it into framed pieces in glass. She is also charmed daily by the rainbow selection of sheet glass at her disposal, which inspire her to make modern, colourful, contemporary glass pieces that are very collectible, perhaps becoming much-loved heirlooms that can be handed down between family members and friends, and will hopefully bring colour, love and fun to happy homes for many years.
Light is the natural playmate of glass, and many of Grace’s pieces are made with that in mind. Not only candle-holders, but also many framed pieces are made so that the light can shine on, through and across the glass surface, changing the colours as it goes, and creating beautiful shadows in its wake.
Glass is a very tactile medium, and much of Grace’s technique allows this to be a feature. Not only is the eye drawn to the colour and shine, but you want to reach out and let your fingers run across the textures created by the layering process.
This website features much, but not all, of the King’s Forge Glass giftware range, stocked by craft shops across Ireland. But Grace is also happy to accept commissions for special pieces as gifts, or for your own home. Her studio is open daily by appointment (just a quick phone call to 087 9705775 to check she’s there), where visitors can see some of what goes into making hand-crafted Irish fused glass.