Tag Archives: stained glass

“Lovely space, really nice work” – warning – Facebook meme within

“Lovely space, really nice work” – a recent comment from a visitor to our gallery and 11427176_10204465462260814_7970850652963678962_nstained glass studio in Northamptonshire.

By now, most people will have seen one of the many Facebook memes going around telling us that every time we buy something from an artist or craft maker we buy a little piece of unique creativity, directing money in to the local economy, helping those artists survive and continue to enrich our lives.

Well, of course I agree with the sentiment, even if I find the memes themselves often a bit saccharine.

And just recently I’ve seen several blog posts from independent shop owners reminding us that small shops and independent cafes or restaurants need to be supported if they are to survive.

Again, I agree wholeheartedly.

Every day something seems to make the chances of survival for small retailers a little poorer – out of town developments, parking restrictions in our towns, tax law changes that give large multi-nationals an unfair competitive advantage.

By design, our business at Vitreus Art is not dependent only on sales of art and crafts – we have a well-attended programme of craft courses plus the art holidays we run in Cornwall and a steady stream of stained glass commissions to keep us busy.

But as a small business we still face many of the same challenges and so we’d like to invite you to help all small retailers continue to offer you nice things the big chain stores don’t!

So what can you do to help keep Britain’s high streets and shopping centres vibrant and independent?

If you see a piece of art in a gallery, or something handmade and delightful, or are tempted by a delicious-looking cake in the window of a tea shop, don’t say ‘I’ll come back and get some Christmas presents later / bring my friend to tea here next year’.

How about buying that piece of art now if you can afford it (art is its own reward!)?
How about biding a while now with a cup of proper tea and a slice of home-made cake?How about getting a huge headstart on the December crowds by buying your Christmas presents now, when you see them, from a crafter at a fair, or a local art gallery or handmade gift shop?

If you’re in the market for original, collectable art, buy art created by an artist who’s still alive – the dead ones don’t need the money!
History is littered with musical geniuses and artists who died poor and then got rich!

Instead of waiting for your retirement to try a new craft or take up paint brushes, find a spare Saturday or evening, book yourself on an art or craft course and start creating straight away. Imagine how skilled you’ll be when you do retire!

If you’re on a tight budget, instead of buying greetings cards (printed in high volume overseas) from high street chains (whose designers and artists receive a mere fraction of the price you pay) buy your cards from a local gallery or gift shop.

I can tell you for every card we sell in our gallery at Wakefield Country Courtyard, the artist gets a useful reward for their work, and not just an insultingly tiny percentage!

Tell your friends about what you’ve done! Share the business’s Facebook page, join their email newsletter and spread the word!

By doing these things you’ll be playing a part in keeping an artist alive and you’ll be helping the gallery or shop owner stay in business.
If they thrive, that’s one less ‘lovely space’ with ‘really nice work’ in danger of becoming a betting shop or tax-avoiding-paying chain coffee shop!

Thanks for reading!

P.S. You can visit us in person at:
Vitreus Art @ Wakefield
Unit 4, Wakefield Country Courtyard
Near Potterspury, off the A5
NN12 7QX

And online at:

And we have greetings cards!

It’s been too long since the last time….the Vitreus Art & Wakefield Gallery March Newsletter


With spring tentatively springing and most of us emerging from hibernation it feels like it’s time to turn the creative dial up a bit!

We’ve got lots of fun classes to offer you, new art work in the gallery and some events we hope will get you out and about in the NN12 7QX area!

How about getting to grips with Mixed Media?
Clare Tebboth’s new one-day class will expand your artistic horizons and is suitable for beginners and established artists alike.

Or for the complete beginner, Clare Tebboth’s Painting & Drawing for Beginners will boost your confidence and inspire you to start creating your own masterpieces.
Clare will introduce you to a range of essential techniques including sketching, colour mixing and brush control, use of watercolours and more.
The course takes place over one morning per week for 5 weeks.

Clare Tebboth Mixed Media Madness, 9th May or 6th June £65 per person including materials and lunch.
Clare Tebboth – Painting & drawing for beginners, 5 week course, mornings, £85 for all 5 sessions, starting 24th April, including materials.

Find out about Clare’s courses here:

We’re delighted that Phil Madley (artist and encaustic wax evangelist) is to be running his highly-rated one-day class in our studio. You will use heated scribes, wax irons and coloured waxes to produce abstract art as well as exploring natural subjects via this unusual (and ancient) artform.
Materials are provided and the class is suitable for beginners.

Encaustic Wax art with Phil Madley, Weds 22nd April & Saturday 2nd May, £70 per person including materials and lunch.

Find out more about Phil’s classes here:

And for everyone interested in working in 3d, take a look at what you can achieve on Liz Dixon’s Textile Sculpture classes. Liz will demonstrate the use of textiles and Powertex resin to create unusual figures and sculptures. As with all our classes, materials are included, and so is fun!
Liz tells us that many of her students go on to make more sculptures at home after her classes!

Textile Sculpture with Liz Dixon – 20th June, £95 per person including all materials and lunch.

Find out more about Liz’s classes here:

And for the budding stained glass artists, we’ve added some additional beginners class dates for both leading (aka garden panels) and foiling – the next foiling classes with places available are on 27th June and 25th July, leading on 4th April and 30th May.
These are all suitable for beginners and cost £125 including all materials and lunch.

Find out more about our stained glass classes here:

And for something glassy but a little different from our stained glass classes, how about learning the art of glass appliqué? Appliqué has been described as ‘see-through mosaic’ and is easy to do at home too.
Jenny will teach you how to use appliqué to make pictures in glass as well as decorate a mirror or a simple glass vase on these Tuesday classes.

Glass appliqué with Jenny Timms – 7th April and 5th May, £60 per person including all materials and lunch.

Find out more about our appliqué classes here:

All our classes are limited to 6 places (5 for stained glass) so early booking is advisable.

Events coming up at Wakefield Country Courtyard

On 3rd April (Good Friday) we’ll be running free stained glass taster sessions for anyone who’d like to have a go at making a simple piece in the foiling method.
Each session lasts about 90 minutes. Get in touch to reserve a time slot soon as places are limited!

Also on Good Friday several of the other businesses at Wakefield Country Courtyard are running events.

Join the friendly folks at Upton Smokery for their tasting day – sample local deli produce, pies, cider and beer, smoked meats and fish and all sorts  of tempting goodies!

The ARTea Rooms are running afternoon tea with sandwiches, tea and cakes (as road-tested by Jenny and her Mum recently!) and pet owners can have their pets photographed by local photographer Barefoot Photographics at Bark N Purr pet boutique.
Have a look at the Wakefield Facebook page to see what’s going on!

Our gallery will be open 10-5pm on Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Monday, closed Easter Sunday.

A bit further ahead but definitely one to put in your diary – how about visiting some artists during Bucks Open Studios in June?
BOS is a 2-week-long festival of Art throughout Buckinghamshire during which we’ll be offering taster sessions, running classes and showing new stained glass plus a few surprises that we’ll hint at in future newsletters!

Last year’s BOS involved 500 artists exhibiting at 200 venues and this year’s season is expected to be bigger yet. This year’s event runs from June 6th – 21st and all exhibitions are free to enter.
There are no prizes for telling us that our gallery / studio is in Northants!

For more info go to:

New work in the gallery – Sophie Court Designs and Tlws Johnson

Continuing our policy of displaying work from the best local artists, we’ve just added cute animal and bird acrylic & paper framed art and jewellery from Sophie and amazing cast glass ammonites from nationally recognised Tlws Johnson.

All our work is affordable with prices starting at £5 and appealing to tastes from serious to frivolous!

Finally – we’re currently taking commissions for stained glass mirrors – just tell us what kind of shape, what size and colours you’d like and we’ll do the rest. Prices start from £50 for square mirrors.

We hope to see you at our gallery soon!

Best wishes,
Mike & Jenny

P.S. We’re delighted that the popularity of Poldark is generating new interest in Cornwall – we’ll be visiting some of the best locations seen on screen during our painting and photography courses in September.

Later in the series, some of our favourites – Gunwalloe (or Church Cove) and the Crown Mines at Botallack – feature in dramatic scenes (no plot spoilers here).

How do we know this?
Mike and photographer Stuart Grieve were scouting for locations for this year’s 3 day photography workshop while the series was being filmed and we bumped in to camera units at several of our chosen locations!

We have a few places left for both painting and photography in Porthleven in September – details here!

It’s time for Herts Open Studios – get out and get some art!


Photograph - Lady Walk, Ashridge - by Stuart Grieve
Lady Walk, Ashridge – by Stuart Grieve


Yes, come the beginning of September it will be time for Hertfordshire’s biggest (and best) art event – the annual Open Studios for around 200 artists.

How else could anyone get to see so much art, talk to so many artists, and even have a go themselves at many studios?

During 3 weeks of September each year, almost all of the county’s artists – professionals, talented amateurs, and even Jenny and I – put on exhibitions, open our studios, get together to present collaborative events, all free, and all open to all.

Many counties around the UK now have an Open Studios week, fortnight or month, but

Stained glass - by Vitreus Art
Sennen Surf – by Vitreus Art

Herts OS is one of the longest-established and it shows – around 200 artists at nearly 100 different venues.
This year’s event includes artists working in book binding, computer graphics and digital art, drawing, encaustic wax, glass (including stained glass of course), illustration, metalwork, scultpure, mixed media and 3d work, mosaic, painting in dozens of forms, photography, textiles, carving, wood and printmaking. Phew – quite a list!

Our own exhibition is a joint show with photographer and digital artist Stuart Grieve, who will be showing his latest work from around the world and closer to home. He’s being very guarded about his new work so we can’t tell you too much about what you might see.
Last year’s show included some really striking infra-red photography that caught the imagination of all who saw it so we expect much greatness again this year!

We’ll be showing plenty of new pieces ourselves too – new pieces in our sea and surf series, new affordable window hangings and others besides.
But a key aspect of Open Studios is the demonstrations and discussions. Stuart will be on hand on some days to talk about his work, and we’ll be making pieces of stained glass during the show too – and if you fancy trying your hand at cutting glass or soldering then you’ll be very welcome!

Here are the details of our show:

Herts Open Studios in Bourne End with Stuart Grieve

Monday 22nd Sept – Saturday 27th Sept

  • Open from 10-30 to 5pm each day
  • Wheelchair access
  • Demos and discussions each day
  • Work in progess on show as well as work for sale
  • Artists present on rotation:
    • Monday – Stuart, Jenny, Mike present
    • Tuesday – Stuart present
    • Wednesday – Stuart present
    • Thursday – Jenny present
    • Friday – Mike present
    • Saturday – Stuart, Jenny, Mike all present

St Johns Church Hall, London Road, Bourne End, HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, HP1 2RU

There will be plenty of work for sale or to enjoy, the show is free for all, and we will welcome you and any questions you have!

While you’re out and in an artistic mood, why not visit other artists nearby?
This page on the HVAF website lists the other artists taking part in the Dacorum area of Hertfordshire:

Mike & Jenny – Vitreus Art

Visit HVAF.org.uk for details of all artists taking part in Herts Open Studios 2014.
You can also visit our Facebook page for updates and news before and during Open Studios.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word….

This is going to need some fixing….

I hate turning down business and I bet you do too. But if the work isn’t something you feel comfortable doing – commercially or technically – then ‘Thanks but no thanks’ must be the way to go.

We set out to be stained glass artists, and the increasing community of customers who’ve commissioned pieces from us or who have bought pieces from us directly or through galleries tells us we’re getting some things right.
Sadly, though, we may have upset a few potential customers recently by turning them down.

“I can’t believe you’re turning down work with the economy the way it is” was one reaction.
Well, sorry folks, but we really don’t do repairs or restorations. There are folks out there who’ll do repairs to smaller pieces but not us, and there are companmies who specialise in restorations. But there’s the rub – they have specialised. We sure haven’t!

Restoration is a tricky business and involves a lot of particular skills, access to facilities most of us can’t provide and entails a very slow and painstaking process of research, careful removal, dismantling, and re-construction. And let’s not forget that many restorations will require glass to be sourced that’s sufficiently authentic to satisfy conservation experts and heritage protectors.

It’s also hazardous. Not long ago a stained glass restoration company in the UK was fined £30,000 by the HSE for not providing training and protective breathing gear to staff. That old lead cement and those dusty lead cames that need to be stripped apart can cause all manner of respiratory or circulatory problems if not handled by people properly equipped both in skills and in equipment.

The number one reason we don’t do repairs or restorations though, is that it’s a very rare customer who appreciates just how much time is involved. If we have to go out and source some glass to resemble existing sections, will the customer be prepared to pay our daily rate for the time incurred, even before we’ve done any ‘real’ work?
Ususlly not!

So, again, sorry, but no thanks.
A repair to a smaller piece can often take as long as it would to make it from scratch but this is often not a welcome observation when the piece has sentimental value.

And to the fellow who rather haughtily suggested our (very realistic) hourly rates were much too high, well – if you want to entrust the repair of your irreplaceable heirloom to a someone who’ll attempt a repair at a rate of not much more than the UK minimum wage, then caveat emptor!

So there we have it – if we turn down your repair job, we’re not saying we don’t like you, nor are we actively trying to offend you, we’re just not prepared to take on work that will cost us more to do than you’re willing or able to pay!

Until next time,


Always a pleasure – delivering a commission to a client

Often a nervous pleasure – will the client like the piece?

Stained glass commissions by Vitreus Art
Two internal stained glass panels with etched details

Will it fit, are the colours as expected?

These troubling uncertainties and more are almost always dispatched within a few minutes of arriving and unveiling. In fact, so far I can’t remember a client not being happy with the end result.
Good luck? Good clients?

Maybe, but we do try to tilt the table in our favour too – we always show the client the design in person on paper before proceeding and we always invite the client to choose the glass colours with us.
Yes, it certainly took some time to create our samples kit but it’s been an investment, no question.

And I should confess we have made a piece or two that had to be ‘adjusted’ to correctly fit the aperture. That’s how we learn though, isn’t it?
Making mistakes is not a failure – not learning from them is; these days we make accurate real-world templates and laugh in the face of mere measurements!

So we’ve delivered some commissions this year – a couple of sizeable ones and plenty of smaller ones. And the reception has been positive in each case. In fact, in many cases fullsomely positive. I often find this is the case when the commission is especially personal, like the two window panels pictured above.
These incorporated several design themes portraying places and times and important objects in the clients’ lives and the date of their wedding anniversary too – cleverly melded together in a pair of designs by Jenny with etched details and judicious choice of glass.

Right now we’ve got a nice project on the drawing board (literally) and in due course when the client has approved the design and we’ve created the four individual panels involved and figured out how to mount them in the couple’s garden, we’ll go through that nervous anticipation experience again. The first unveiling of 2014 probably, with hopefully many more.

Happy new year when it arrives,
Mike (and Jenny)

P.S. You can see more of our recent commisions on this page of our website: