Claire Mant’s urge to go travelling meant that she had to postpone her plans to set up a glassmaking studio – but now she’s pursuing her creative dreams with Mantisglass
1. How did you get into making glass?
I started off doing stone sculpture in Australia. Then my teacher persuaded me to go on a glassmaking weekend. I was a bit reluctant because it was quite expensive, but I’m glad I did – I became hooked! I became good friends with the woman who ran the workshop so I used to go and help her out, and in return she let me put small pieces in the kiln. I started to sell these to friends, but I knew that if I wanted to make bigger items I would have to have my own kiln.
2. So you went off and did that?
Well, I also really wanted to go travelling, and I couldn’t afford to buy my own kiln as well as a visa to the UK! I figured that if I didn’t go travelling then, I might not get another chance, whereas I could always buy a kiln later. So I arrived in the UK about 10 years ago, and then it was another six or seven years before I could buy a kiln.
3. Was that in Brixton?
No, I was using a studio in Stoke Newington at first. But I was living in Brixton and working in Wimbledon. I had to leave work 15 minutes early to get to the studio and still arrived half an hour late – it was a real schlep. So when this studio in Morrish Road came up a year ago I jumped at the chance. It’s a real mixture of people – there are mosaics and costume makers downstairs and soft furnishings and upholstery next door. We opened the studios for Lambeth Open – it was a good way of getting to know everyone.
4. Tell us a bit more about your work with glass.
I do fusing and slumping – this is known as warm glass. Glass blowing is hot glass, which requires hotter temperatures. I use three different types of coloured glass, which you can’t mix, plus window glass. The coloured glass is more expensive, as they use metals like copper to produce blue and gold for pink – pink glass is the priciest! A lot of research goes into it because the quantities have to be adjusted so that all the different colours of glass cool at the same rate to avoid cracks. The fusing takes place at temperatures of up to 850°C.
5. And why did you decide to join Makerhood?
A friend told me about it so I had a look at the website and joined two days later. I have my own website, but I don’t have PayPal and I’m no expert on marketing and promotion. I like the fact I can just upload photos and text and Makerhood takes care of all the payments and technical stuff! It’s also important to me to be involved in the local community, so Makerhood provides a fantastic opportunity for networking with other local makers. I heard about the opportunity for a market stall through the site and also got in touch with a photographer, Nicky Cast, who is going to take better photos of my products.
6. Can you give us your top tip for an unmissable Brixton experience?
I love having breakfast at the Lido Café. I usually go for the eggs Benedict, but last time I had granola. I hear they also do a mean burger, but I haven’t managed to get there in the evening yet!
Claire is also running a one-day workshop on 17 December where you can learn the basics of fusing and slumping glass – see Makerhood for more details.