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  • Writer's pictureBelinda - Good Craic

Artist Profile: Frances from Ballybrick Glass and Clay

When I talked about starting a blog many of you expressed interest in hearing more about the wonderful artists that make Good Craic Gifts such a treasure trove. Here is my first attempt with several more to come. With work from over 80 Irish artists in the shop I have plenty of raw material.

Not all lock downs are created equal. It is clear that there has been a broad spectrum of experiences during the last few months. Many artists and musicians especially have seen their income drop to zero overnight. I hope to offer as much support as possible in the coming months to help them get back on their feet. I've reduced my commission on many products and hope many of you will choose to buy your gifts from the range of local items available in my shop. We can make a difference!

Frances Bauer from Ballybrick Glass and Clay out near Rathfriland is driven by her passion for colour.

Initially she trained as a scientist but for more than 30 years she has been creating with polymer clay, a soft brightly coloured clay that is cured in a regular household oven. Colours can be mixed similar to paint so a broad range of colours can easily be created from a few basics. Sheets of clay can be layered to create complex patterns (known as canes) which can then be sliced, baked and polished to create stunning pieces used for beads or pendants among other things. My favourite are these sweet sheep brooches! But then I'm a little obsessed by all things sheep.

About 10 years ago Frances discovered fused glass and added that to her skill set. Glass can’t be mixed in the same way as the polymer clay to make new colours but powdered glass and small pieces (apparently called frit) are added to a base piece of glass to create patterns. Glass has to be fused in a special kiln at 805 degrees Celsius for nearly 24 hours! The glass can then be shaped over moulds at a lower temperature to create items such as trinket bowls, candle bends and earrings. She also makes dichroic glass which uses a special layer of foil between layers of glass which splinters in the kiln to create sparkly glass with a real depth of colour. I love her dichroic pendants!

Frances has her pieces in a number of craft shops (including of course Good Craic) and was part of the team running the Carlingford Craft shop across the Lough. Due to the pandemic all the shops closed and during lockdown the difficult decision was made to close the doors to Carlingford Crafts forever. Overnight her income stopped completely. Due to the unique nature of each piece made by Frances it doesn’t lend itself easily to online sales. I’ve loaded a number of her pieces onto my online shop but that means I need to set them aside for online sales only as there is only one of each.

Frances hope that her new normal will provide a lot more time to create. She’s already been working on a new range of sheep products to keep me happy. Her home workshop has a gorgeous view of the Mourne Mountains which provides plenty of inspiration. I look forward to seeing what comes out of that studio in the next few months and wish Frances all the best. I love having her glasswork and jewellery here in Good Craic! I'd love it if you could show Frances some love this month by buying her work. It is great quality, beautiful and reasonably priced. Just let me know if you need a hand choosing something beautiful.

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