Open Studios Interview with Jason Leggett – a new artist for 2020
I drove out to visit Jason on a cold spring day; only a smattering of leaves had opened on the trees, but turning off the main road and down the drive to the small courtyard of charming buildings making up the Mortimer Hill Estate, the sun came out and the bright yellow daffodils around the pond cheered me up.
Jason creates his glass pieces in his studio, and also teaches small classes of up to four people there. It is a small space – half taken up with two large kilns – and chock full of examples of his artwork and those of students. A huge variety of styles of glass work are dangling in front of windows and crowded on window ledges or hanging from shelves. There are also rows of glass of all colours and patterns, bottles of paint and other decorative finishes.
I was surprised that Jason had only been in the studio for 3 years, indeed he has only been a full-time artist since 2017, after his partner persuaded him to give up the day job in IT because she could see how unhappy it made him. Jason has embraced working with glass, and particularly glass fusing, a process of layering different coloured and patterned glass and melting them together in the kiln. Jason has been on many courses to learn about different methods of glass fusing, and he explained to me how a number of these techniques can be combined in a single piece of work, with some requiring three or more separate firings.
A typical piece of fused glass art will be fired twice – once to melt the colours onto a base piece of glass, and secondly to shape the piece, this can be done over a mould; by ‘slumping’ the glass over a prop or by draping it over an object. There were some lovely examples of ‘mesh melted’ glass – whereby shards of different coloured glass are placed over a stainless-steel mesh, and in the kiln they drip through onto a pane of glass beneath. This creates an abstractly patterned glass that has a gorgeous depth to it.
Jason has worked on a number of commissions, including a recent one for a decorative bathroom panel, of an underwater scene, complete with glass infused with bubbles. Most recently he has attended training to create kitchen splashbacks from fused glass, a lovely way to bring some bespoke art into your home.
Teaching glass fusing is a big part of Jason’s life and he clearly really enjoys sharing his passion with others. He started by taking classes at Reading’s Hobbycraft store, which only came about due to his persistence; - he eventually wore them down, and the classes have been a success ever since. He enjoyed working with the pupils of Brimpton Primary School to create a window incorporating the individual artwork of 60 children, which has been much admired, and has led to work with other local schools.
For information about his glass fusing workshops, please have a look at his website www.giftofglass-mortimer.co.uk
Jason will be exhibiting in his studio at Mortimer Hill, along with another couple of artists who work in studios on the estate, the printmaker Annie Welch and the jeweller Cathy Newell Price.
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