At the outset I witnessed my first tutor sculpting glass. He held the glass by stretching and twirling it on a specific blow torch, a material I normally saw in a solid state. I thought to myself… Glass!!! Couldn’t this glass be destroyed? This was because of my limited knowledge of this material called borosilicate crystal.
Despite being fascinated from that inception to this day I am still amazed at the composition of the material. In my opinion it is a very unique craft and of course became my favorite although I have worked with other mediums.
In 2003 when my career began I had encountered some hurdles and at times turmoil. I eventually pressed through and as times improved so did my craft. I gained clients locally and abroad and business was going quite well for a season. This was when a series of business issues from staff integrity to unreached potential goals plunged me into depression.
I began to question my work, “Is this good enough?” I asked. I simply was not satisfied with what I did. This feeling of self-condemnation lasted for the entire year of 2012 amidst the smiles and humorous demeanor I usually carried in the design studio amongst clients, workers and friends. I thought I was struggling as my inspiration started to decline and my urge to create was stagnant.
Despite this stagnation, for many months I struggled to produce work. At this point glass blowing was my life, it was all I knew and all I did for money. Little I knew this would birth the unlikely inspiration that led me to produce my most successful pieces to date. I began to think big as they say and go out of my comfort zone.
I thought of a lamp, a piece that can eventually evolve into different styles and designs once I had that outside the box thinking. It was radical and completely different to what anyone had seen. I then realized the depression made me view life from a different angle. I did not dwell on the negative side of turmoil I looked on the brighter side, when I kept hearing no I kept saying yes. I began to occupy my mind on extra ordinary pieces and that gave me the peace I needed. Even to this day I find myself gazing at my latest lamp design, to me it seems as if I am watching the sea as it meets the shore line and the waves crash into the sand. That season truly made me into the accomplish artist I am today. Ultimately it was the thought of failure that drove me to continue on with my career, not only my career but my true love.
Editor: Nicholas Roach
Writer Jamal J Ifill