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  • SHOWCASE | Monmouth Glass Studio

SHOWCASE | Monmouth Glass Studio

COMPILED & PHOTOGRAPHED Rebecca Sayle

A hidden gem in the back streets of Auckland's, Grey Lynn, Monmouth Glass studio is home to Stephen Bradbourne and Isaac Katzoff, craftsmen behind Monmouth's exquisite glass objects. Although, no new kids on the block, their popularity is forever growing, and when we stopped by the studio, it was clear why. Their pieces are stunning. Elegant and beautiful, as well being industrial, with a huge focus on function and form. 

The pair have been successful in making the art of traditional glass blowing current once again. By using traditional techniques dating back hundreds of years, each piece is hand- shaped and finished in the Grey Lynn Studio. Renovate had a quick chat with Stephen and Isaac to see how they started it all, and their plans for the future. 

INTERVIEW

Give us a brief run down on your work background? 

Stephen: For the last 25 years my career has revolved around designing and making objects in ceramics and glass. My initial training was a Design Degree at Unitec. I then went on to learn the art of glassblowing at Sunbeam Glassworks where I worked until 2005. Since then, my main focus has been on my fine arts based practice.  

Isaac: I learned to blow glass in the late 90’s while studying painting at art school back in the States. After graduating I worked for a small company in San Diego, California. We hand painted residential interiors; frescoes, faux painting and things. I was blowing glass on the side, whenever and wherever I could. Those two occupations sort of flipped for me when I moved to New Zealand in 2007. Since then I’ve been working mostly with glass and painting whenever and wherever I can.

What do you love most about your business?

Stephen: I love the fact that every working day we get to create works of art out of molten glass that people desire and want to use and display in their homes and work spaces. 

Isaac: The flexibility and the people. Glass is such a versatile medium. It can be made into virtually any shape or form.  Right now we have quite a specific product range but there is a lot of room for those to change and develop over time. For me the people I work with make the work worthwhile.

Can you recall a piece of advice given to you that really helped you succeed?

Stephen: I don’t recall any one specific piece of advice from anyone that really stood out but a lot of people have given a lot of encouragement over the years and I guess the main thing they would say was just keep doing what you love, even if you’ve got to do something else to pay the bills, find a way to keep doing what you love.

What was the hardest aspect of going out on your own?

Stephen: The hardest thing for us initially was figuring out how to run the business and keep the money coming in, so we could continue the glassblowing studio operating. Running a gas fired furnace 24/7 is major financial commitment!

Isaac: I’d say that the hardest thing was the transition from being a maker to being a person who runs a business. That skill set is entirely different and not one that is taught at art school. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Stephen: The great thing about Monmouth is that with our combined skill set we can see so much potential to grow the brand through new ideas and designs, not only in glass but in other materials such as ceramic and wood so in 5 years I think we’ll be very busy!

Isaac: I’ll still be making stuff and hopefully teaching a bit more.  I see Monmouth growing and potentially moving into making things with different materials like wood, ceramic and/or metal as well as glass.  I’d also like to be able to bring some younger glass blowers into the studio.  When I was learning it was nearly impossible to find a decent paying job as a glassblower.  I want to offer that opportunity to the kids that are learning now.

Describe your brand in 3 words or less. 

Stephen: Design made well.

Isaac: Necessary luxuries. 

If you had a sit down dinner and could invite any 2 guests, dead or alive, who would they be?

Stephen: I would invite Paolo Venini & Archimede Seguso, two of the most well know mid-century Italian glass designers and makers who’s work has been a huge influence.I’d love to sit down and pick their brains on inspiration, design and glass making for a couple of hours. 

You can teleport anywhere tomorrow. Just for the day. 

Stephen: I would go way back in time to 4th century Rome and hang out with some ancient Roman glassblowers for the day, I’d definitely pick up a few tricks from them!

Isaac: 15th century Peru.  I’d love to see Machu Picchu when it was first built.  There was some serious skill and craftsmanship happening back then.

You were castaway on an island and could only bring 3 things with you? (assuming food and shelter is provided)...

Stephen: Probably a few tools like maybe an axe, a hammer and hand drill. Then I’d be able to build a boat of some kind and sail away!

Isaac: Paints, a paintbrush and pencils. Painting and drawing would be the perfect way to kill time. 

To see more of the lads at Monmouth visit their website

Read more in Issue 22 of Renovate Magazine. 

+ All information is deemed to be true at the time of publishing - All images are copyright to Renovate Magazine in association with Monmouth Glass Studios +

 

 

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    Renovate Magazine