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Elin Isaksson is a Swedish glass blower and artist based in Dunblane, Scotland. Using traditional glassblowing techniques, Elin makes the most beautiful lighting, decorative and sculptural pieces with elegant, tactile and simple forms in striking colour blends.
After being artist-in-residence at the Edinburgh College of Art for a year and a half after her MA Degree, Elin set up her own business which has been running in Scotland for the past ten years. Elin kindly spoke to AUTHOR about her work and inspiration.
Where did your passion for making your items come from and where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?
My love for glass blowing started 25 years ago, when I stepped into a hotshop when I was 17 and I was instantly hooked by the heat, the hum from the gas furnace and the magical molten materiel forming in an instant before my eyes.
My designs have developed over the years from starting out as purely functional items into more interior accessories and sculptures. Usually I come up with new forms whilst making something else, letting the material guide and inspire me. The stronger colour palate in my interior accessories and sculptures (using amber, hyacinth and pinks) begun after living in India for a year, experiencing the colourful everyday life over there. My cooler white and blue palette originates from inspiration from my home country Sweden with its cold, snowy and dark long winters.
Were you always interested in creating things from childhood?
Yes as long as I can remember I was always making something whether it was hand-drawing, painting, sewing or building tree houses.
How did your business start? What led you into it?
I slowly built up my portfolio making bespoke commissions when I was teaching undergraduates at Edinburgh College of Art whilst I was artist-in-residence for a year and a half following my MA course. I then happened to be in the right place at the right time in Alloa when a big funding project was developing as I got to know the area. I managed to get the funding for my studio backed by Clackmannanshire Council since there is a history of glass making in Alloa, in fact the glass factory there still operates today. Without this support, I would not be here today, a decade in business.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
I enjoy the hot (blowing and sand casting) process much more than the cold process which involves grinding and polishing the blown pieces.
Do you have a favourite from the pieces that you make?
I don’t have a particular favourite but it’s such a great feeling when you get the form of a piece just right, especially if it’s a larger piece since it’s always more demanding.
Why do you think people like to use glass in their interior decorating?
Glass is so ever changing, depending on the light and where it’s being placed. Its translucent quality makes it a magical material to work with and to have around us. It can really lift the mood in a gloomy and dull space in an instant, especially if the sunshine reflects through the glass, it can look like its glowing!
Do you have any particular design heroes or other makers your work has been influenced by?
I was very fortunate being given a grant and the opportunity to attend a Master Class with Dante Marioni at Northlands Creative Glass in Lybster. He was great at making large and heavy pieces look very delicate and fragile using simple and flowing forms.
We love your handblown baubles, they are perfect for Christmas. What is your favourite thing about Christmas and do you have any particular Christmas traditions in your home?
Well since I am from Sweden I like to keep it to the decorations I remember from my childhood. Warm LED fairy lights everywhere -indoors and outdoors! And lots of candles instead of putting harsh ceiling lights on. My husband is not so keen though since he keeps tripping over the furniture!
What makes a glass piece a perfect Christmas gift to give?
My Liquid Ice Candle Holders and Oil Lamps are great for this dark and gloomy season. It will light up and cast reflections around the room and make it ‘mysigt’ (cosy) as we say in Sweden.
Any upcoming projects/ pieces you’re working on that you’d like to tell us about?
We are currently trying out some prototypes for sand cast candle holders using natural inclusions. These will of course burn out since the glass we are working with is almost 1200c, and it will leave a very detailed pattern and catch the light in an intricate way.
Anything else in particular you’d like us to mention?
We have just moved studio to Dunblane from Stirling and we were able to build the new studio with funding help from Forth Valley and Lomond Leader to whom we are very grateful.
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