|Filigrana Vases, BTU Studio Production line 2014|
2013 was another good year for Irish craft.
According to CCoI statistics
the number of people buying craft has been rising in recent years which is good
news for all the Irish-Glassies.
As well as the
usual suspects (Jerpoint Glass Studio, Irish Handmade Glass and Kerry Crafted
Glass who we caught up with last year) there were some new faces at
Showcase Ireland this year including the familiar faces of Scott Benefield and
|Albion – Scott’s personal work|
Scott was there representing the BTU studio which he founded with his wife and
fellow glass artist, Andrea Spencer in 2011. They are based in Randelstown in
Northern Ireland. The studio is named after a dated measure of energy, the British
Thermal Unit and they produce and annual line of blown glassware and decorative
objects. Here’s what Scott had to say about selling at Showcase this year:
“I had really good experience. I thought that the buyers were much more
open to looking at something new and even committing to an order in comparison
to, say, the British Craft Trade Fair.
It was great to meet other exhibitors and staff from the Crafts Council; it gave me an expanded sense of the handcraft scene
Andrea Spencer, Temporal Properties
The offerings in glass were absurdly few- besides me, there were only three
other studios in the Creative Island
section. It’s far from critical mass levels and so the market in Ireland for
contemporary glass remains undeveloped, in my opinion. But the good news is
that there seems to be plenty of room for new designers and makers who are
working with glass.”
|BTU’s Stand at Showcase|
|‘Eye candy’ – Catherine Keenan|
Catherine Keenan was also an exhibitor there, selected as part of the Craft Northern Ireland group. Catherine received
her BA in Glass from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and
continued her studies in the UK. Since
graduating, has continued to work from her native Northern Ireland producing decorative
blown vessels and lamp-worked glass jewellery. She is currently based at Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart.
|Catherine’s Stand at Showcase|
“I was in an area that
was mostly fashion accessories and jewellery, as I was focusing on getting
wholesale orders for my lamp worked glass jewellery. However I also brought my
blown glass in order to draw people to my stand and also make clear the
connection between the blown glass and my jewellery.
I got a great response to my work, people were instantly drawn to the colours,
particularly in my new ‘Colourscape’ range of jewellery. I gained a
substantial number of new stockists mostly throughout Ireland, also one on
In terms of the market for glass in Ireland: I found a lot of shops liked my
blown glass and I had some good discussions with higher-end galleries but it is
a rather small and select group of buyers who have a particular interest in
glass. I think is the main issue that people often don’t understand the cost of
producing a piece of glass and therefore don’t understand the value.
That said however, when I have exhibited through the Crafts Council of Ireland, or at the RDS National Crafts
Competition, I have tended to sell. It seems clear to me that they
are getting the select audience for high end craft, who appreciate the work and
quality of blown glass.”
|‘Colourscape’ Necklaces and ‘Eye Candy’ Blown Glass|
So there you have it folks, word from the experts is that there’s plenty of room for more glass in the Irish market place, especially if we can communicate the production costs more effectively to the average buyers. Thank you Catherine and Scott for sharing your experience with us.
Well done to all the glass-practitioners at Showcase this year – lets double our numbers for next year!
GSoI Media and Communications