Blown away by beautiful glass sculptures

Ice and fire, light and shade, Elin Isaksson’s beautiful glass sculptures have been shaped by her travels and love of nature.

From the icy depths of her native Sweden, with its rugged landscape hinting at the country’s volcanic past, it is perhaps not surprising that Elin would find herself drawn to creating stunning works of art from molten glass.

‘I got into glassblowing after leaving school,’ Isaksson explains.

‘I initially did a general art-based course before getting a place at the world-renowned Orrefors glass school. It was a two-year course and the fi rst year we learned the different techniques, such as engraving, sand-blasting, and learning to cut into glass, as well as trying the different mediums – hot and cold glass. In the second year you got to specialise and I chose the hot end and glass blowing.

‘After finishing the course I worked for a year as an assistant to three glassblowers in Gothenburg. But it wasn’t very creative. While I felt I had quite good art and design skills, I didn’t know what I would make, so I applied to art colleges and got into Edinburgh.’

Having been very hands-on in Sweden, Isaksson found Edinburgh a shock.

‘I was used to going into the studio and learning how to do things, but in Edinburgh it was all about “how are you going to make that, what do you enjoy making and why”. I had to create sketch books and it took a while to get used to doing a lot of drawing, thinking, sketching and writing, but it was very good and I really developed my creative skills. If I hadn’t done that I’d probably be sitting somewhere in Sweden just making paperweights.’

Having completed a BA and MA, Isaksson worked as an artist in residence at Edinburgh College of Art, before heading off to India with her husband for eight months. ‘Travelling inspires me and I brought a lot more colour into my work after being in India.’

It was during that period that Isaksson made up her mind to set up her own business and despite returning to a recession, she was determined to make it happen. ‘A lot of people thought I was mad, but I was very lucky in meeting the right people. It wasn’t easy though as I needed £60,000 to set up due to the cost of all the equipment.

‘I got a little funding from the then Scottish Art Council and a lot of help from Clackmannanshire Council and a glass company in Alloa. I’d also just finished a big commission that year, so it all came together.’

Isaksson now produces bespoke hand-blown glass for lighting and sculpture by commission at her studio in Stirling, which includes a gallery.

‘I’ve been very lucky. I do a commission every year for Oil and Gas UK, and I’ve done work for the National Museums of Scotland, Glenfi ddich, and I did the glass for a large chandelier for Dewar’s in Aberfeldy. I also sell my work at retail outlets and do bespoke work that goes to Europe.’ The popularity of her work is no doubt in part due to her ability to capture nature.

‘I’m inspired by the play of light, texture and movement in nature and I often develop ideas after travelling back to the north of Sweden or along the coast of Scotland.’

On top of her private work, Isaksson also finds time to runs short courses.

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