Glory Art Glass in Sandown is a popular stop on the tourist trail and only a stone’s throw from the beach that inspires a lot of the work that is made in the studio. Housed in a huge old garage, with light pouring in through the big windows, the studio is spacious and light with a mix of traditional and modern fittings giving it an eclectic feel. Behind the counter you can see Ed Evans and his father Martin gathering, blowing and moulding glass into the amazing creations on sale in the shop.
After a degree in arts and sculpture at Portsmouth followed by a 25 year long career with Isle of Wight Glass Martin Evans decided to go solo and founded Glory Art Glass with his wife Nicky in 1996. Since then all of their three children have worked with glass, although it is Ed who is now running the studio with his dad – his sister Danielle Blade makes beautiful art glass in America.
There are about ten different lines that they produce along with one off and experimental pieces. "Our most popular line is the 'Chale'," explained Ed. "It's quite easy to see the beach in it and it goes well with wood, metal and stone." Other lines include Seaspray inspired by the sea, Cherry Blossom with pinks and greens on white and Bluebell – "inspired by the beauty of the springtime bluebell woods."
Newer ranges include 'Aegean' that moves through blue and yellow to a strong scarlet rim, which is very striking, and Samarkand, influenced by the famous poem Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The 'Laguna' range is inspired by Ed's snorkelling and spear fishing around the Island and there are many pieces inspired by the sea and shoreline.
Martin also produces intricate etched glass work – there are many examples of this work at St Mary's Hospital, here on the Island, and Ed produces stunning awards for various events such as the our own myIsleofWight Awards each year, celebrating the best Island tourism businesses.
Chunky glass pendants are eye catching. Sometimes when a vase breaks they can make a piece of jewellery with it, and other pieces are droplets and loops.
Ed has introduced a line called 'Eternity', making memorial pieces for people that have their loved one's ashes encapsulated within glass along with colours and silver or gold leaf. He tends to put the ashes into pieces that are heavy and tactile and more resilient with globes and hearts being favourites "It's a bit like relics in a sense," said Martin. The ashes swirl with the coloured glass and glitter to produce something very pretty and not at all funerary.
It's free to come in and watch and during the summer they are open every day. "On a nice summer's day when dad and I are working well together there's nothing better really," said Ed who both makes and designs pieces with Martin.
"We have customers coming back again and again, particularly families to see the glass demonstrations," said Martin. "Ninety per cent of our trade is through the shop but we do also sell online."