Tuesday 16th October 2018
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Words: Caroline Bingham
Featured in the July 2018 issue

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Caroline Bingham meets Lynn Baker, a glass designer based in the Wolds whose work will feature in this year’s Doddington exhibition.

It could not be a more tranquil spot for a home and studio, overlooking fields of grazing sheep and further beyond, Wispington Church.  Lynn Baker arrived in Lincolnshire, like many people, because of her husband David’s career in the RAF. Her focus was bringing up their three children and her creative outlet until then was music; Lynn still plays baritone horn with Kirton Brass Band and Banovallum Brass.

“I suppose I have been creative all my life,” Lynn explained, “but the opportunity did not arrive until I was 40 to take a step back, redirect my life and explore which medium would most appeal to me.”

Lynn began by enrolling on an access course in art and design at the University of Lincoln. Five years later she graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Contemporary Decorative Craft. “The beauty of these courses was the wide base of mediums, skills and techniques with which you began and gradually my focus was drawn to blowing and kiln firing glass. This diagnostic approach was both therapeutic and enormously enriching for me.”

To hone her skills further, Lynn studied for two more years at the International Glass Centre at Brierley Hill in the West Midlands, gaining a postgraduate certificate in Glass Design. She is now a member of the Society of Master Designer Craftsmen.

Her studio is in a converted conservatory at the family home and is packed with a dizzying variety of tools and equipment: two large kilns and of course lots of sheets of glass, glass pellets and jars of oxides, which colour and decorate Lynn’s work.

For Lynn glass offers such a broad spectrum of properties with which to translate her ideas and the inspiration she finds in the Lincolnshire countryside.

Lynn said: “Glass has seven distinct properties including translucence, texture, transparency, opacity, reflection, refraction and lastly malleability under heat, making it ductile. It can be fragile but also much stronger than it appears.”

Lynn works in lead crystal and while kiln made pieces are fired in her studio, she travels to the West Midlands and rents use of their furnace for glass blowing. Many might think that this is traditionally a male dominated art, requiring plenty of puff and muscle to handle the rods and weight of the molten glass. “It is all about temperature control,” said Lynn, who is slightly built. “When the glass reaches the ideal temperature of between 800 and 900°C, blowing is a relatively gentle process. I do get assistance from other artists to control the weight of the rod and molten glass.”

Cabinets in the studio contain some of the beautiful blown bowls, candle holders, paperweights and vases Lynn creates; earthen tones, ridges and magical light of autumn fields reflected in the russet and grey oxide colourations and grooved stem of one bowl; the ever open hungry mouths of fledgling birds against a big sky in bright blue vases. Lynn would agree that she has a very feminine interpretation of her medium, with a fluidity and softness which probably sets her work apart from her male contemporaries.

Much of Lynn’s work is sold through word of mouth and by commission. Five galleries in the UK stock her work and an agent represents Lynn and nine other glass designers overseas. Her work has appeared in the Middle East, USA, Australia and New Zealand.  Recently Lynn has worked on bids for architectural commissioned pieces and fish inspired stairwell sculptures for a beach house development in Dubai. Much closer to home, Lynn is working with Jeanette Killner on an allotment themed exhibition called Seeds of Inspiration to be held at the Sam Scorer Gallery in Lincoln from 23th April to 5th May 2019.

Lynn’s pieces at Doddington Hall, floral motif sculptures mounted on sturdy metal rods, will be on display in the Walled Garden.

“This is a significant year for women and I researched plants that claim to have healing properties for women. The design is called Queen of the Night, from the orchid cacti with the same name. The original flower is white but mine will be midnight blue with peach variations and pink adornments. The colourways will ‘sing’ in the natural light of any garden border.”

Lynn begins by cutting the petals from coloured glass, which are then fused in the kiln with a plain layer of glass beneath them, adding additional strength. When the glass reaches the required temperature, the glass will slump and mould to a petal’s undulations. Firing takes three days, after which the final assembly takes place with sturdy washers and screw bolts. Their delicacy and grace in a garden setting defies their sturdiness and durability. Prices for Queen of the Night start at £85 and all pieces can be paid for and reserved for collection when the exhibition ends.

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