One of my great hopes is that renovating Briarcourt will open up opportunities for me to link in with others who share a passion for hand-crafted things. I'm not a complete Luddite - I get that computers have transformed modern life. Global communication is now open to everyone who has access to the internet and so many daily tasks have become more efficient than would have ever been fathomable when I was a child.
However, my manifesto for living includes the following statement:
'Instant' isn't always better. It does us good to wait for things sometimes.
...especially when the result is something beautiful, made by human hands that have worked hard to perfect their skills, and from mind- and heart-sets that are committed to the process of creating art. 3D printing can take a running jump as far as I'm concerned.
So, imagine my pleasure at being invited to the studio of stained glass artists Deb Lowe and Graeme Scott last week.
Although I love poking around the 'business end' of artists' studios....tools, materials, sketchbooks; the big industrial windows facing you as you walk into Graeme and Debs' studio in Todmorden make it almost impossible not to be drawn to the light - especially since they double as gallery space. 'Where I Live' was the piece I'd fallen in love with on their website and there it is, casually propped up against the window.
Over coffee and homemade ginger cake, we chat about their art and business. Whilst Deb is the main designer, creating the windows is a proper team process. The couple met studying for their architectural glass degrees at Swansea University and it's clear that art and a shared love of architecture, landscapes and nature shape their daily lives as well as their designs.
Splitting their time between restoration and new commissions, their work has an international reach. One of this week's projects has been designing a cartoon for a stained glass window destined for the USA.
The artistry within Deb and Graemes' work is exquisite, not least because glass painting features heavily in their designs. The combination of detail (I love the wind turbines in 'Where I Live') and the textural relationships created by marrying up glass fragments of contrasting thicknesses and finishes are awe-inspiring. Add into the mix the ever-changing light and you have windows that almost live lives of their own.
The glass itself comes from various sources, but the most prized sheets are hand-blown. Where colour combinations are introduced, the final look of each piece comes down to serendipity. Trips to suppliers to pick out individual sheets to add to their glass library are important so that Graeme and Deb can select exactly the right pieces to fit their designs.
Completely inspiring....and so exciting to meet people embodying a modern day Arts and Crafts Movement. As for Deb's suggestion that I should give making a piece of stained glass for the house a try, I know my limits. I'll leave that one to the experts.