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  • Stewart Hearn

Meet the Maker: Stewart Hearn

Winner of the 2016 National Trust Open Call

Supported by the Crafts Council and Heritage Craft Association

Stewart is a master craftsman who has honed his skills over a lifetime. All his work is made using ancient hand-blown glass skills and his pieces have a weight and depth that only comes as a result of being handmade.

We love that Stewart has been able to create unique pieces inspired by one of the special places that we look after. He clearly has a love of the fenlands and translates it into his work intuitively. Stewart signs each piece by engraving the base, creating an authentic and distinctive piece of glassware to be treasured for generations to come.

What inspired you to become a glassmaker and designer?

I began my glass blowing journey at college when I had the chance to take part in a glass making taster session in my first year. I was hooked from that one class, and decided to switch my focus from ceramics to glassmaking.

Since then I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of Britain’s most skilful and talented glass blowers, artists and designers. It is through working with them that I really learnt my trade and developed my personal style and design.

"The changing light of the Fens frequently influences the colours I use in my work."

Have any National Trust places inspired your work?

Five years ago I left London and relocated to the Cambridgeshire Fens and this has greatly influenced my work. I am often inspired by the time I spend walking through the Fenland with my wife, Kathryn, and our dog, Ruscoe. At times the colour palette of the land is vibrant with the bright hues of yellow rape, golden wheat or dark rich shiny brown soil fresh from the plough. In winter, the stripped back landscapes offer more muted tones of grey and charcoal.

Can you tell us about one of the exclusive pieces from the range?

One of the pieces is the Oval Encalmo Bowls, which I make using the ancient Italian ‘Encalmo’ technique. This is where two different colour bubbles are joined together to create one new bubble. At the point the two colours meet, you can see them with absolute clarity as one colour ends and the other begins, almost in an exact line. The result is a beautiful piece of glass, the clarity of the colours and design that allows for the piece to be appreciated both as a decorative object and as a functional item for the home.

The simplicity of form and colour of the Encalmo Bowls also disguises a very complicated glass blowing technique as the intricacy of the design means that each bowl can take over an hour to create. I enjoy the way light passes through the glass and the refractive hues it can achieve, adding to the overall quality of the piece. I spend a lot of time contemplating colours that will fit together and have created an exclusive colour combination for the National Trust collection.

Stewart Hearn is a Crafts Council Maker and was selected to create this new range through a Crafts Council and National Trust Open Call in 2016. 

The deadline for the National Trust Open Call 2017 is 1 September.