Q & A with artist Michelle Atkinson of Jewelnotes Glassworks.
Michelle is a Calgary based artist whose beautiful, timeless and sustainable glass work we are proud to now sell at The Shop at Lougheed House.
Michelle was born and raised in Calgary, and has studied graphic design and glass making both locally and internationally. She has a love for all things nature and magic. Her work combines fused glass, crystals and copper to create one-of-a-kind statement jewelry and home décor pieces. The work has a rustic, worn and ancient feel mixed with a magical sparkle provided by the deep hues in the dichroic glass. The addition of crystals helps to propel the work to a more ethereal realm and connects us all back to the earth.
What inspires your work?
The majority of my work is inspired by the landscape of western Canada mixed with a Magic aesthetic. I remember summer vacations as a kid, traveling across the prairies, through the mountains and out to the ocean, completely transfixed with the nature around me. I collected rocks, shells and lots of little treasures along the way, dreaming of mermaids and fairies in the ocean and forests. I’m an Albertan born and raised, so I have a great love for the vast calming effect of the prairies. I aim to keep that little pice of childhood magic inside me alive all while highlighting our stunning landscape in my work. My jewelry uses a lot of Dichroic glass witch sparkles and shines just like a fairy wings and my line is moving toward copper electroformed pieces. Electroforming allows me to incorporate actual leaves and other organic elements and give the work a distinctly rustic and earthy feeling. I still have a few silver pieces, but eventually everything will be copper. My sculptural work focuses on impressing natural elements into the glass (grasses, leaves etc.).
How did you become an artist?
I’d say I’ve been an artist my entire life. I’ve tried it all, but glass has always called to me – I used to dig up bits of old pottery and glass in the garden as a kid.
I’ve been a graphic designer my entire adult career, or my ‘big girl’ job as I call it. I still work as a designer full time and do the glass art the rest of the time. I joke I have two full time jobs. In the day job I’m creative for other people and the glass job I’m creative for me.
As far as getting into glass, I always wanted to take glassblowing, but just never got to it. I ended up doing the graphic design thing and never went back to school for that glass part. I toyed with continuing education but never pressed the button until I found a short weekend class for fused glass. We just did really simple, layered glass pendants; the next day I bought my first kiln! I’ve been experimenting and learning ever since. I’ve travelled to Vegas for classes and done a lot of trail an error learning from books and the internet as well as a few online courses.My graphic design training has given me a lot go the fundamentals like colour terry and composition, so I really love getting to experiment with what the medium can do. My work always has many layers, both in meaning as well as process.
What do you want people to know about your work?
Humm… this is a tough one. Maybe that there is more to it than you think and the simple pieces are the most difficult. I’m always trying to simplify my pieces and process, they usually end up having more to say. And if you ever see me at a show (fine craft or fine art), please ask me questions about the work! I love to share the nuances of each piece. Every piece has a story and glass is more complex than people assume – the process itself is a story.
Visit Michelle’s website a www.jewelnotes.ca
Or on Instagram @jewelnotes.