Saturday 18 June 2011

Tea and a chat with.....

The lovely and very creative Mollie Barrow from Spleodar. Sit down and put the kettle on everyone!

Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi there! My name's Mollie Barrow and I make sparkly fused glass things from my studio in North Tipperary.  I live in Cloughjordan, home to Ireland's first eco-village and next-door to Barack Obama's ancestral home of Moneygall, with my 10-year old son Elliot and a couple of cats.  I also co-own Sheelagh na Gig (, Cloughjordan's bookshop and cafĂ©, though since February I've been artsying full-time and have left the shop in my business partner Liz's capable hands. 

Liz is also coordinating the upcoming Cloughjordan Festival, and I'll be exhibiting my work during it at the Totally Tipperary ( slow food event in the grounds of Cloughjordan House on the 25th and 26th of June.  Also as part of the Cloughjordan Festival, I'll be running a series of fused glass workshops for children.  I've never taught anyone anything before, and I'm sure I don't need to tell you how terrified I am!      

How do you find selling on Etsy?
Slow, to be honest. I opened my shop in 2009, but didn't give it any attention.  In 2010, I kept the shop closed whilst I stockpiled my pieces for the National Crafts Fair in December.  I re-opened when I stopped working in Sheelagh na Gig, and have been putting a lot of time and effort into it since. 

Because of the nature of glass and the fact that my work needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated, and of course Ireland's being  an island in the middle of the Atlantic, I think the majority of my sales will continue to be local to Ireland.  And that suits me.  I am very grateful to Etsy for  exposure, though!  In just a few  months, my work has been featured in blogs and articles all over the internet thanks to the traffic to my Etsy shop.   

Describe your artistic process: 
I experiment!  All the time.  Kiln-forming glass involves melting glass in a kiln at temperatures 
up to 815c/1500f and then slowly cooling it to harden and to prevent thermal shock, depending on the effect you're trying to achieve.  

There are lots of cold-working methods that come into it too: 
like grinding pieces into shape, or sawing or sandblasting.  
But I love the actual kiln-work itself. 
I love the thrill of taking temperatures up higher than usual, 
I love combing glass when it's almost molten to 
create mad patterns, or letting it 'boil' at 1800f. 
I think glass has a mind of it's own.  I just facilitate it expressing itself! 
I do have respect for and appreciate the rules of kiln-forming glass, 
you have to if you don't want your pieces to shatter, but beyond that I just allow it to do its own thing! 

Future goals or ambitions?
Dirty words, as far as I'm concerned!  I look forward to having a bigger studio someday, though.  And once the sprog is off to university or down t'mines or wherever, I'm going to try to do some serious long-stretch travelling. He's 10.  I have a bit of a wait.    

What does handmade mean to you?
Now that's a loaded question! Beyond the obvious answer of not being made on an assembly-line, I'd say handmade implies quality and real people and skill and soul.    

Finally, any words of wisdom?
You're asking the wrong person if you're looking for wisdom! I'll just give you someone else's wise words.  Offaly artist Emma Barone ( posted this quote to her facebook page today:  'A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.'--Lou Holtz 

Lovely Links

Thanks Mollie! Best of luck with the children's glasses, I'm sure you'll do wonderful!


  1. after these few pictures you've just got fan, i am afraid what could happen if i would see it personally :))

  2. i love the vibrant colour combination you have there! i wish to be full time artist too but my creation can't make living yet so i need to teach. youor 10 year old must be very happy to be with you all the time!
    tweeted about your shop and item, wishing you tons of sales ahead!


  3. Great interview - I love looking at your pieces.

  4. Mollie, I love your pieces. They are just so vibrant. Definitely a feast for the eyes!

  5. Thanks, everyone! Shameless publicity will never get old with me.

  6. Your craft sounds like such fun! And I've always admired your vibrant work. Lovely interview.