Border Lives: Jill Bagnall

by Webmaster, 22nd December 2017

Meet the Shropshire-based designer-maker behind Fusing Ideas Glass, whose fabulously functional handmade pieces are taking the Welsh Borders by storm

What’s your background?

I’m from the Midlands, I was brought up mainly in Stratford upon Avon. I have a business degree and worked in marketing for 25 years. My husband Mark is an engineer and he’s also self-employed.

We decided to move to Shropshire 15 years ago and it’s a decision we’ve never regretted. We live in the village of Worthen, halfway between Shrewsbury and Welshpool. It’s set in a valley with the Stiperstones on one side and the Long Mountain on the other, right on the edge of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


So how did you become a designer-maker?

I’ve always enjoyed crafting hobbies and often taken part in short courses to learn more about them. That’s how I ended up getting into glass. I liked doing it, so I did more courses and really became hooked.

I’ve been a full time designer-maker for about six years. It’s hard to say exactly when it stopped being a hobby gone berserk to being a job. My mother very kindly bought me a kiln for a special birthday and I began making more and more items. It got to a point where I couldn’t really keep giving any more pieces to friends and family so I decided to try and sell some things at a local craft fair. It grew from there.


How would you describe your style and where do you get your inspiration from?

Overall it’s the colour that drives and inspires me. I prefer combining colour in unusual ways and try to know what the latest trends are, though I don’t necessarily follow them. I love strong contrast and I also like to work with tones and variations of colour.

A customer of mine once described my glass as fabulously functional. I thought that was a nice phrase and asked them if I could use that and I’ve adopted it almost as part of my logo. It describes my intention. It should be fabulous to look at but also have a proper function.


What’s the best part of the job?

There’s nothing quite like someone buying a piece of your work. It’s what keeps me going. The knowledge that people enjoy what I do enough to part with money for it – and they love it as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it – is fantastic.

I imagine it’s akin to going on stage as a performer and having the audience applaud your performance. It gives you a tremendous buzz.


Given you work from your home studio, do you ever find it isolating?

Although I work on my own I don’t know that I ever feel particularly isolated. The creative process can be so inward looking, I’m concentrating so hard to make what’s in my head that I don’t really notice.

When you’re doing something creative and artistic, your head is full of the design and colour. It might also be quite challenging and you’re so focused on the work you forget yourself. I run workshops from my studio for small groups of beginners and it’s always fun to have the space full of chatter.


What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy researching family history. I imagine myself time travelling back into the past. These people really start to become real when I research them and you imagine them as they were, in the clothes they wore and the things they might say.

I’ve unearthed that my grandfather’s family were actually Welsh miners. I have also some Shropshire roots as well. It could be why I feel incredibly at home here.


To see more of Jill’s work, commission a piece, or book a place on one of her workshops, visit her website www.fusingideas.com


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