Julie Kirkham, of Alby Stained Glass, is a stained glass artist and craftsman, with experience of working inside the home and out. She has been creating stained glass for 23 years but has had an inherent interest in glass since she was at school.
Taking stained glass up as a career after her Fine Arts degree seemed natural, although it can be hard work at times.
Q: What kinds of domestic projects have you worked on?
A: I have worked on all types of domestic projects and in many different types of properties over the years, from screens to windows, doors, entrance halls, bathrooms and kitchens.
Q: Which commissions do you particularly enjoy working on and why?
A: I enjoy commissions that will stretch the design capacity of both myself and the client. The project needs to be an inherent part of the home or building and not seen as an after thought, so careful planning at the design stage is essential.
It is also important to take into account all areas of the client’s environment.
Q: How closely do you work with the homeowner on the design?
A: I work very closely with the client as the design consultation is vital. I have to get into their head and recreate what they see in their mind. If it’s not right on paper, it will never work practically. They have to live with it – I don’t, so it has to be right.
Q: Does stained glass for the home and garden seem particularly popular at the moment?
A: Stained glass goes through popularity phases and at the moment it is fashionable to take the glass outside into the garden. This has evolved through shows like Chelsea Flower Show and designers like Dermot O’Neill. This way you have colour in the garden all year round.
Q: Which places in the home does it work particularly well, and why?
A: Any area in the home will lend itself to having stained glass within it but it is nice to have an area which acts as a feature visual point. Internal panels and screens, I think, add a certain chic to the environment and can be relaxing on the eye.
Q: Can you pick one project you have worked on for an individual’s home and tell us about it?
A: Yes, one of latest projects has worked very well. The clients have beautiful cottage at Scoulton, in Norfolk. Full of beams and history, the client opted to take a design from some hand-made silk purchased for a dressing screen.
The four panels are in a bedroom situation and have added a touch of the contemporary, yet with traditional elements. All the colours were matched with the different glass. The window has now become an integral part of the room, fully co-ordinated with the furnishings and very, very stylish. One of the best!
Q: Can stained glass really transform a space?
A: In this instance, yes it can. It can add value to your property, I believe. I think that if the client has taken time to add stained glass to their home, it shows care for their property.
Also, with the glasses available, it is so easy to get away from the “church window” scenario and create a stylishly visual area within the home environment that will transform and add a new light dimension.