Tag Archives: stained

Lockdown News from the Vitreus Art Studio – April 2020

Well, hello!

We do hope you’re getting the opportunity to enjoy at least a little of the sunshine that we are having at the moment.
We also hope that you are able to be creative in some way – we would love for you to share your creative endeavours with us via our Facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/VitreusArt/

Just before we had to furlough ourselves to our home studio I (Jenny) had started taking painting and drawing lessons for beginners with the lovely Emily Brady.
Thankfully, she was able to impart enough knowledge (there is only so much you can learn in 12 hours!) for me to practice at home so that’s what I have been doing.

Far from perfect (working my way there slowly) I have just finished this painting of a place that is very close to mine and Mike’s hearts and we are looking forward to heading there in October (all being well).
The elephant is still work in progress!

So come on, I’ve shown you mine, surely you can share yours with us too?


And now a request – if you have participated in any of our classes or workshops –  be they taught by ourselves or one of our lovely tutors – or visited the gallery and liked what you found, would you be kind enough to leave a review on of the following please? Thank you!
You’ll be helping to continue to spread the word so we can carry on bringing you fun and creative workshops when the lockdown has ended.

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/VitreusArt/

Tripadvisor:
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g2184602-d8113838-r363142235-Vitreus_Art-Potterspury_Towcester_Northamptonshire_England.html

Google Reviews:
https://www.google.co.uk/search?ei=dc6iXtv5MIKP8gLKtoqYBg&q=google+reviews+vitreus+art&oq=google+reviews+vitreus+art&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzoECAAQRzoECAAQDToICAAQDRAKEB46BggAEA0QHjoKCAAQDRAFEAoQHjoICAAQCBANEB46BAghEApQzrUGWIrNBmC91gZoAHACeACAAWaIAZQLkgEEMTAuNZgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwibiNTW-4DpAhWCh1wKHUqbAmMQ4dUDCAs&uact=5#lrd=0x4877030b1fa97965:0x4f6a69e10a538d7d,1,,,


Wow – we actually have some new pieces of art work to share with you on this occasion!
Some new fused glass pieces from me, some new garden panels, a lamp and some commissions completed by Mike, and some pieces not ready to show that we’ve both worked on together.

How many projects were tucked away waiting for the right time to finish? Lots!
Coral – Fused Glass by Jenny; Falling Water by Jenny; Mosaic Lamp by Mike; Commission by Mike

There will be more, too, so plenty to see when we can re-open.

You will be pleased to know that Mike is keeping busy with plans for a new 3D lampshade workshop (because the devil makes plans for idle hands!).
Plans will be revealed once he has the programme in order; but something nice to look forward too.
There will also be new jewellery and glass fusing workshops anon…


Mike has also been busy getting more work purchasable online from the lovely artists who exhibit at the gallery.
The list is growing day by day and currently includes Lou Thomas, Marlene Snee, Clare Tebboth, Richard Ballantyne, Graham Lester, Niki Thomas,  Lesley Passey, Brenda Stewart, Abby Cork, David Burton, Hilary Audus, Brian Kichenside and John Damsell.
The aim is to have work from most or all of the artists we work with fully online by early May.

See them here: https://www.vitreus-art.co.uk/wakefield-gallery.html

He did tell me to keep this bit of info ‘hush hush’ for now, but those of you who know me, know that I always do as I am told!! (Not).
And when you do get to venture out to us, you’ll notice the whole place looks different!

There’s new work from Marlene, Abby and Peter of WdWorks and a fresh new gallery layout.

We even waved a paint brush around!


Mike and I would like to thank you for your continued support, and we are sorry we can’t bring our workshops to you just at the moment – but hold tight they will be back soon.
And should you fancy trying your hand at any of our courses later in the year you can always book online in advance and get the date in the diary, giving you something to look forward to.

By way of a ‘thank you’, to all of you who have happily postponed your workshops with us to later in the year, we would like to arrange a small offer of thanks to you.
For all who have deferred your workshops (without a single request for a refund from anyone, which is fantastic) we would like to offer a free taster workshop to you later in the year.
Please keep an eye on your in-boxes –  when things get back to some form of normality we will schedule these into the diary and send you your own personal invite to join us.

For now stay home, stay safe, stay well and most of all, keep being creative.

Best Wishes,
Jenny and Mike

Who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

It’s a good question – who would start a gallery with the economy the way it is?

I intended to write this a year ago, when our gallery-workshop was just a few months old.
Back then we felt full of optimism but still heard nagging inner voices telling us we were a bit daft for even thinking of setting up what was effectively a shop, just when so many others were going to the wall.

On top of that, it was necessary for Jenny to leave the stability (and predictable income!) of a regular job. What were we thinking?

One year on from that part-written blog post and nearly a year and a half since we got our slightly sweaty hands on the keys to unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard the optimism is still there, the inner voices have been quelled and our early marketing efforts have paid off.VitreusArt-gallery-studio-Wakefield-Country-Courtyard

We’re delighted to have regular customers who seem to come in just after we’ve put new stock on display.
Our classes are steadily drawing new would-be and established artists and crafters keen to develop their skills or gain new ones.
Our studio is being used to create interesting (sometimes amazing) projects by students.
And we’re finding that folks who used to visit the Courtyard have started returning, having discovered that there’s more to see, do, eat and drink than there used to be.

So of course we’re optimistic – we’re working hard to make our business a success and seeing that pay off.

Some of the things that have really worked for us include:

Having a mix of income – we sell our own stained and fused glass, we sell other artists’ work for a commission, we run a host of our own classes in fusing, stained glass, glass appliqué and more.

We also have a talented band of artists who teach their own art forms to students for us, and we make our space and facilities available for a small fee to those who want to create but lack the tools or a suitable place to work at home.

We’ve built up a really good mailing list over the years. Our regular emails get open rates and click-through rates (which is actually much more important than opens) that are significantly higher than is common in our line of business.

A testament to this is that we’ve just taught a couple of ladies who joined our mailing list after attending our third ever class about 10 years ago; they’ve been receiving our monthly emails ever since and got in touch to ask for a private class at our studio this year.

We keep up our advertising in local magazines. When we get visitors telling us they saw us in a local magazine we know our adverts are being seen. Of course this doesn’t translate in to ROI, but we’re still ‘young’ and working to build our footfall.

We’ve also taken a leading role in encouraging our neighbouring businesses to join us in co-op advertising and that’s making a noticeable difference to the footfall across the site. It’s tempting to ease off on the advertising now we’re in our second year –it costs money after all – but we plan to keep the momentum up.

Running demo days and taster days to show visitors what we’ve got going on. These have been a huge success for us, and are a blast to run too. We invite our artists to join us for our demo days, and show off their skills.
Visitors get to see artists in action and are often inspired to join a class and have a go themselves.

The outcomes of our taster days are similar – we give customers the chance to try one of our glass crafts in a short session for just a fiver. Many then book a place on a full class knowing that they’ll enjoy it, thus reducing the risk!

Listening to customers and hunting out work we think they will like. We’ve tried hard to find work that synchronises with what our customers tell us they like, or actively looking for. We’ve also had to learn that what we like may not appeal to our customers. We remind ourselves every now and again that we are not our own customers!

Of course there’s a lot more we do that’s helping bring in customers – giving talks at WIs for example.
It’s all part of doing what we can to build our gallery, grow our reputation and help our lovely customers own or give art as a present, or even make their own art.

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve seen art you like, have tried a class and enjoyed it, or if you’re an artist yourself.

If you’d like to visit and find out about art and craft classes or check out the art we’ve got on display you’ll find us here:

Vitreus Art, Unit 4 Wakefield Country Courtyard,
Off the A5, near Potterspury, Northants NN12 7QX
Tel 01327 810320

Join our email newsletter group here…

VitreusArt-mapWakefield-Country-Courtyard

 

Why do we teach stained glass when we already have enough competition?!

Vitreus Art beginners stained glass Workshop
Vitreus Art beginners stained glass workshop

By now you know we teach stained glass, right? I go on about it often enough!

Well, one of the reasons we teach (aside from wanting to share the craft we’ve become passionate about!) is that we often hear from would-be stained glass artists who’ve gone out and bought tools and glass and materials and then found they just couldn’t make it work.

They cut themselves to shreds, their pieces didn’t fit together, they wasted loads of expensive glass, their soldering was lumpy and ugly, or their fledgling abilities just didn’t develop.

Net result – most of them gave up.

We had the benefit of a day’s class when we were starting. We had no idea what was required, where to begin, what tools were needed – we just knew we wanted to find out if we liked it, and if we might show any early promise!

It could have been so different – Lord knows it’s sometimes a frustrating craft!
However, decent tuition,  access to the right tools,  and the desire to learn from someone clearly very skilled set us off in the right direction.

Starting teaching

Fast-forward 5 years and we’re making commissions,  selling through galleries and teaching. Why?

Coming from marketing and PR backgrounds, we both felt that we were good communicators, and we’d been on a very steep learning curve.  So as we began to field questions from people who wanted to try, or who’d tried and given up, we set up our first class.

Crikey – that was hard work! And the investment – we decided that 6 was a good number of students so we needed 6 sets of tools. And you may already know, a complete set of  tools costs about £150 per person, not including a grinder. And don’t forget the glass – we get through a lot!

We hooked up with a local gallery with spare workshop space (thanks Sally!) and set some dates. Luckily we found enough students (that always seems like the wrong word!) and set off on our journey.

We did a lot of planning, a lot of cost analysis to be sure we knew how long and how many classes it would take to repay the investment in tools and glass. And we sweated over the lesson plan and rehearsed, and tested.

The comments we had back after our early sessions encouraged us to carry on. We now run 13 or more sessions a year, some at an intermediate level now that we have students who are keen to progress to making bolder and more ambitious pieces.

As an example of the type of comment that led us to develop our programme, here’s one from an early student:

2009 hasn’t been the best of years for me but I can truly say that this one day was my real highlight. Your passion for the subject really shone through and your professionalism in guiding us in all the task was amazing. I am delighted with the pieces I made.  I suspect my husband actually thought I’d bought them!

And now that our classes are getting fully booked months in advance, we’ve taken the plunge and set up a 5-day workshop in Cornwall too! We must be mad!

So the message here is – if you’ve struggled to make the glass work for you, if you’ve become frustrated at lack of progress, or you want to find out what stained glass is all about before you jump in, get some tuition – for two reasons:

one – you might save a lot of money on tools if you don’t enjoy it!

two (much more likely!) – starting off with someone to show you the basics and to offer constructive feedback might get you totally hooked, like it did for us!

three – knowing someone in the trade, and being able to ask them how they got started, and what they found hardest at the beginning is great background info and reassurance

I’d love to find out how you got started, or even what made you give up.
We might be able to offer some advice!

I’m considering running a tips and tricks column on our stained glass website, or in our monthly newsletters, or on this blog.
I’d like to know if this would be useful to you – leave a comment and let me know.

Happy creating!
Mike