Never have I been more excited than when I was put in touch with glass blowing artist, KT Yun. This chance opportunity led to an exclusive interview just for my little old blog :)
KT Yun is one of the talented craftspeople who has created the beautiful pieces of artwork in the new print advertising campaign for KETTLE® Chips which celebrates the care and attention taken to create the nation’s favourite hand cooked crisps.
KT is originally from the Scottish Highlands near Loch Ness and studied a National Diploma in Design in Carlisle before eventually relocating to the South of England to study Glass Art at UCA Farnham. KT now lives and works on the Somerset/Wiltshire border where she runs a glass studio and also creates products for other glass artists to use.
Following my initial gushy silliness at talking to such an accomplished glass artist I actually got around to nervously asking KT some questions.
Just before I get to the interview however, please let me show you the finished glass blown replica of the Kettle Chips packet that KT and her hand picked team created.
Awesome isn’t it?!
Anyway, I’ll stop gushing now and get on with the interview.
KT, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It is a real honour. Also, congratulations on successfully getting and completing your Kettle Chips commission, it is truly stunning.
*still gushing, clearly*
Firstly I would like to get to know a little about you and your passion for glass so my first question is a fairly obvious one – how did it all start?
My journey towards glass blowing came about as a result of a chance visit to a tutor’s glass workshop whilst studying at college in Carlisle. The first time that I saw it, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I then went on to study at degree level at UCA Farnham where I also went on to teach in glass for 10 years.
Looking back through your CV, it certainly seems as though you have made every effort to make your dream happen and have accomplished a lot however I would like to know if your glass art career has grown as you anticipated it would when you first started out?
It has to a degree in a very round about way. I didn’t envisage giving up the bench which happened when I had children however I realised that through teaching I also get to learn all over again and find it very rewarding so I’m really happy with the way that it has worked out.
I still enjoy the artistic side of things. I often now direct the work more so than directly working on the piece which is a great way to work as it enables a collaboration of minds to happen – which makes it more enjoyable and rewarding.
I see that you have set up a centre for glass education in the South of England called The Glass Hub recently. What prompted this latest move and what do you hope to achieve with it in the future?
My love of teaching was the inspiration behind it initially. I had previously run something similar and really enjoyed working with Helga, my previous business partner. So setting this up meant that we would have an amalgamation of glass working skills that could help expand the sharing of ideas and inspire fresh blood.
We often also have visiting masters so it has become more of a melting pot of ideas rather than a formal educational establishment.
With your glass blowing work, do you always work to commission now or do you also still create your own collections?
I’m doing less limited edition work for galleries and now work to commissions more in order that I can create more one off pieces of art. Running my two businesses limits the time that I have to dedicate to this, however, having said that, the change in my working life means that I am now more focused on the artistic side of things, rather than the run of the mill pieces, which is a nice place to be.
When designing for yourself, how do you come up with your designs?
Glass is such a mesmerizing material, something might go wrong and move and ends up looking great. I like to experiment. Trying to unlearn so I can become freer in art is my mantra. The idea of nature is always there however I do have a particular affinity to a kitsch style.
How would you describe your style?
Quirky, experimental and contemporary.
What craft tool could you not live without?
*silence from my end* – Erm, What are jacks?
Jacks are my main friend in glass forming. They are used in many ways for cutting and forming the glass as it becomes molten.
What’s your favourite piece of work?
I used to like to make insect ornaments. This is something that I would like to return to as I am fascinated by the way they move as well as their shapes and colours. I would have been an entomologist if I had not been a glass artist!
Now, thinking back to the commission from Kettle Chips, I would like to ask you what you felt when you got asked to do it?
Exciting and terrified!
Excited as it was such an amazing opportunity and terrified when I heard the deadline. I received the call just before Christmas and the the deadline was around the 3rd week in January.
On top of this, the commission came in at the time that the region was being gripped by floods so it was quite an exhilarating and challenging time, for many reasons!
Where you given a particular brief or did you have to create the whole thing from scratch?
There was a brief, in particular relating to the lettering and style of the packet and I tried to work as closely to the brief as possible but feel that I had the opportunity to express myself as well, which was nice.
How long did the process take to create the finished piece and what was involved?
It took around two weeks (but I would have liked to have had 6 months). It was actually a team effort between myself and James Deveraux and we sometimes worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week. On top of this I was also running the businesses and taking care of the children – so it was a busy time indeed!
There were a lot of stages involved in creating the finished piece, it’s easier to show rather than explain on this one so I’ll make sure that you get some photographs.
KT did indeed send some great photos – here they are …
In some of the pictures that you sent through, there were some smashed examples – did these not turn out how you had originally planned or were they creative choice in action?
There is a fine line for the temperature that you can work glass at. If it is not hot enough, it can fall off and smash. If it’s too hot it will melt – the margin for error is very tight! It took a few attempts to get it spot on.
I recently watched a clip of you working with Kevin McCloud on his handmade home. What was that like to work on?
It was exciting. Channel 4 approached me through my mobile furnace business and asked, “Can you make glass out of sand, in the middle of a field?”. It was another tight deadline though and what was done was created on the day – there was no preparation before hand – but it all worked out in the end.
I have recently been taking courses in glass bead making myself and think that I have been bitten by the bug also. Do you have any advice for me, or others like me?
Glass is easier than you think – I taught a couple recently and they came away delighted with what they had made! Having said that I would add that you cannot get better than working with someone that is experienced when starting a new creative venture as there are often things that these masters learn whilst working with a material that you may not get by learning in any other way. Again, this is one of the reasons behind The Glass Hub.
Who is your favourite glass artist?
Martin Janeky – He is a glass sculptor and can create amazing things that just defy belief! When I finally got to meet him it was overwhelming!
Lastly, my blog readers enjoy a wide variety of creative creative arts and crafts, are there any other creative things that you do or would like to do?
I have always loved drawing. At some point I will get it into my work somehow. I have also admired those that work with sugar crafts as there is a bit of a link between the way glass and sugar paste moves and shapes – perhaps I will also give that a go someday…
What’s next for you?
The next event that I will be attending is “Greenfields” in Glastonbury in the green crafts field.
In the long term, and now that the family is grown (my youngest is now 11) the career is coming full circle for me and I hope to take on more commissions and look at ways of working to a larger scale.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with me KT.
Thank you. Take care and come and take a class and The Glass Hub whenever you can.
I’ll pack a bag!
So, what a fabulous opportunity and an interesting personality as well.
What question would you have asked Katie?
See you next time readers.
Oh, PS, I’m off to scoff some crisps :)