Artist Interview

Chichester Art Trail Artists

A studio interview with Peter Barton

Just before Christmas, Ellen and I paid a studio visit to Peter in his home studio in West Wittering. Chilly to start with, we were soon warmed, just by the sight of the flame and the magic of the glass transforming before our eyes!

Peter designs and makes glass sculptures, functional pieces and jewellery, all handmade using traditional furnace glassblowing and lampworking techniques. The inspiration for his work comes from many areas of the natural world, but he particularly likes the colours, forms and textures found in tropical plants and flowers.

You can visit his studio, Venue 59, on the Art Trail in May to see his work, plus…live glassblowing demonstrations all day! In the meantime have a look at pbglass.co.uk.

... I only started setting up my home studio about two and a half years ago but it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Nicola Hancock

How does Lampworking differ from Glassblowing? What intrigued you about the medium?

Peter Barton

Glass is an incredible medium to work in, and I like all aspects of it, but I am particularly intrigued by getting it molten and shaping it into sculptural and natural forms. Furnace glassblowing and lampworking are just two of many different ways to work with glass. Lampworking, also called flameworking, uses a high temperature flame to melt the glass in a relatively small, but precise area. Furnace glassblowing uses larger equipment, including a large pot of molten glass held in a furnace; metal pipes are then used to collect the glass out. In both processes hand tools and gravity are used to shape the glass.

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Nicola Hancock

How have you adapted the studio to assist and develop your artistic practice?

Peter Barton

Having the right tools is the most important factor really, different pieces of equipment enable people to make different objects. A large enough flame and the size of the kiln restrict the size of the pieces you can make, and glass making equipment is expensive. It has been a process of building up the different tools needed to make the things I want to…. there are always more tools to buy though!

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Nicola Hancock

What is a normal day in the studio like for you?

Peter Barton

I usually work in roughly two hour sessions actually behind the torch making things, and then I’ll take a little break. Having to concentrate so intently for long periods is quite draining, both on your brain and your body.  I’ll then do any emails, order requests and social media bits in the time between.

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Nicola Hancock

What projects are you working on at the moment in the studio?

Peter Barton

I’ve always got a few different projects on the go and some waiting in the wings. My main goal at the moment is to keep building my skills working sculpturally with the glass, trying to make things larger and more complicated. I am mainly working towards making sculptural sea life scenes.

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Nicola Hancock

What is your favourite feature of the studio?

Peter Barton

My torch, without it I couldn’t make anything. It’s an amazing bit of machinery, really well designed to enable the most flexibility of use, going from a tiny pin-point flame for small detail, to a much larger flame for bigger work. Glassmakers generally get quite attached to their equipment and tools, because they are so integral to the process.

Nicola Hancock

What time of year do you most enjoy your studio?

Peter Barton

I suppose it’s a little nicer in the summer, being warm and sunny, but it can get too hot in the studio! In the winter it is a bit colder, but it soon heats up when I’m working. I enjoy it all year round really.

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Nicola Hancock

Do you enjoy inviting others into your studio and sharing your process with them?

Peter Barton

Yes, very much so. I love sharing my passion and knowledge about glass, and especially when people can watch the process. That’s the great thing about the Art Trail, it means I can show people just how exciting and interesting glass is; I really enjoy sharing that excitement with people.

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Nicola Hancock

When you are creatively lost or frustrated how does the studio inspire you?

Peter Barton

I have a lot of inspirational objects and pictures in my studio, both of glass things I’ve made in the past and made by other people, along with non-glass objects, usually natural. If I ever need a creative boost, I can see things all around me that will inspire projects or ideas.

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Nicola Hancock

What is a ‘studio’ to you?

Peter Barton

It’s a place where I can set up equipment and house all the tools needed to make glass. Because of this, it is a very important part of my life. Being able to practice and make things from a home studio has enabled me to continue to progress and get better as a glassmaker. I only started setting up my home studio about two and a half years ago but it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Photographic Credit: Ellen Hancock
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