Emma Butler-Cole Aiken

I am a stained glass artist working mostly with traditional methods but using these materials and methods in a contemporary way. I seek magical combinations of image and material and strive to reach beyond the ordinary to create unique works which stand the test of time.


What craft do you work with?

I discovered stained glass at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1980s and chose to specialise in it. I have been making windows and other things with glass since then.My favourite technique is using paint to control tone and bring out the rich colours of the glass.

What inspires you to work with this craft?

It is the beauty of the coloured glass and the way it comes alive as light shines through it that excites me.This craft matters because it is an extremely practical and long-lasting solution to window decoration. Double glazing typically only lasts for 20 years. My windows will outlive me by 100 years or so.I particularly like to use hand-made sheet glass because of it’s subtle textures.

How do you start your creative process?

I start my creative progress by drawing. Sometimes ideas develop quickly and sometimes they seem reluctant to emerge. I use a variety of materials in this process including water colours, pastels, pencils and inks. Sometimes I layer images using tracing paper and sometimes collage.Once I have a scale design, I copy this to a full-size cartoon, usually using graphite. From this I create a cut-line on tracing paper. This is where the decisions about where the lead lines will fall are made. From this the glass is cut to shape and later it is used as a guide for creating the panels with lead.My favourite part of the process is choosing the colours and cutting the glass.

Your Workspace?

My studio has a large window at one end in front of which is my glass easel. I always create my work on this so I can see exactly how the colours will look with daylight shining through.

Sharing your craft and experience?

The best advice I have received: Keep on creating, no matter what. A successful artist is not the one who makes lots of money, but the one who keeps on creating.I would like to collaborate with metal workers and sculptors to create ‘windows’ that have ‘escaped’ from buildings to stand up in their own right

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