Grace Brennan is a fused glass artist working from her King’s Forge Glass studio outside Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan. She is a member of Louth Craftmark and the Glass Society of Ireland, as well as DCCI.
Grace makes a range of hand-crafted glass, all of which, she hopes, will add something special to the home of whoever receives it. She creates one-off glass items designed and fused in her Irish countryside studio, everything she makes, has ‘Home’ at its heart.
Grace is inspired by the natural beauty of her rural surroundings. Her workbench overlooks the famous drumlins of County Monaghan and beyond, and provides her with a constantly changing landscape, that often makes it into framed pieces in glass.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
Well, that depends on the time of year.
The run-up to Christmas is my busiest time of year, as I make lots of seasonal items. I sell both wholesale to gift shops around Ireland, as well as direct through my website, and I am also involved in a number of more local gift shops, who I supply products to, and then there’s the Christmas fairs! So at that time of year, I work long hours – but I love that buzz!
I make glass during daylight hours, as it’s much more successful than working in artificial light. I have three kilns of different sizes, that I use for different product lines. When I have one or more kilns filled and firing, then I start to pack up any orders that have come in on the website.
Most days, I try to get to the post office before it closes. Then I do maybe an hour or so, drilling glass pieces that have come out of the kiln. That’s what I call getting my ‘homework’ ready! After a little break for dinner, I spend the evening in front of the fire, putting ribbons on my decorations – that’s my ‘homework’.
What advice would you give someone who is considering this craft career?
Setting up your own glass studio is really quite expensive, as is the actual specialist glass itself. You’ve got to be self-motivated, patient, happy with your own company, as working with glass is a slow, methodical, immersive experience – but that’s part of the beauty of it. You may never get rich, but you’ll have a lot of creative satisfaction along the way!
What do you like most about your work?
I love creating new product lines. I love the buzz of getting wholesale orders made, packed, and away, and the thought of customers in whatever corner of the country, choosing a King’s Forge Glass gift or Christmas decoration, from the range available in the stores. I love the feedback from customers, and seeing repeat customers coming back again and again.
What do you like least about your work?
Undoubtedly, it’s got to be the insecurity. During the inevitable lean times, you begin to doubt your ability, you think your work isn’t good enough. You’ve got to be able to wear numerous hats, to be able to survive. Being a maker isn’t enough: you’ve got to keep accounts, be a salesperson (not my strongest quality!), take on social media, market yourself, and be resilient enough to weather the tough times.
What’s your favourite craft item in your home?
Ooh, that’s a hard one! I have a batik silk wall hanging in my living room from fellow-Monaghan artist Louise Loughman, that I just love. I’m a huge fan of her work.