Posted 19th Sep 2016
"People think about living the dream, but how many actually do it? You have all your dreams and I think you've just got to do it while you can.
I used to be a design and technology teacher. I enjoyed it, but didn't want to turn into an old fossil handing out fading handouts. It was summer and Pam and I thought we needed to take the scary leap, and start an art business. I've got a Fine Art degree in sculpture, but I liked making prints and so we thought, "Can we do this from a boat?"
We both had proper jobs but, to do this business well, we decided to both give our jobs up. Pam does the website, planning and admin, I do the art. We thought if it doesn't work out, "So what, we'll do something else. As long as we don't get into debt."
We’ve managed to buy a mooring where we can live on our boat. At first I worked on my prints, but then I got a tiny kiln and started making little stuff like glass jewellery. All the art was done on the boat, and we thought it wasn't a good idea to have glass powders in the same boat that we lived in, so that's when we got a tiny boat that could become the floating studio.
I'm always trying new things and my glass started getting bigger and bigger. There’s a limit though, to the biggest sheet I can get on the boat! We've got two kilns on the boat now, and it takes between 12-16 hours to fire in the kiln, so it can get horribly hot! I sieve the glass powder to create the colours and the way I work is a process of layers. When I'm working, Pam has to ask before she comes on board in case the boat rocks when I'm using glass powders. It can be quite technical getting the materials right and then the firing temperatures. I like to experiment and the results are always slightly different. Every finished piece is unique. I know exactly what I want to achieve in my head, and it's just a matter of working out how to achieve it.
The business is working well. We're touring all summer and we're going to do Christmas markets in the winter. I'm hoping to do courses as well next year, and perhaps carry on making art on the floating studio for the next 10 years or so until we retire."
Image and text courtesy of Canal & River Trust