How a wicked idea led Gen through the looking glass

Gen Thompson and some of her work and below on a teaching day with brownies from Halifax
Gen Thompson and some of her work and below on a teaching day with brownies from Halifax

Just over a year ago, while Genevieve Thomspon was toiling away at her job as an IT project manager, she realised she simply couldn’t face it any more.

Since leaving university, Gen had worked in IT development, first in London, then later at a bank in West Yorkshire, but she felt her heart was no longer in it. She’d taken up glass art as a hobby, to ease the boredom, and had fallen in love with the craft – and she decided that was where her future lay.

So, she sat down and wrote her resignation – dated 12 months ahead, sealed it in an envelope and stored it away – vowing to herself that in 12 months’ time she would have a new career, using her beloved glass art skills.

Gen joined every available evening class on glass working, starting with mosaics, then learning about glass fusing and stained glass techniques. She began selling her work at craft fairs and building up the business in her spare time.

Exactly 12 months on, when the chance of voluntary redundancy arose, she was ready to pursue her goal – and when she handed in her letter of resignation, 12 months to the day when it was written, all she had to change was the year!

Now she’s living her dream, running a full-time glass art business, called Wicked Gen Crafts, from a studio in Swires Road, Halifax, selling her delicately-crafted pictures, artifacts and jewellery via galleries and exhibitions, her website and her online shop.

Gen is one of the craftspeople currently exhibiting at Bankfield Museum, in Ackroyd Park, Halifax, as part of the “Handmade in Yorkshire” exhibition, showcasing the wealth of creative talent in the area.

The exhibition, featuring a range of crafts from glassware to ceramics, textiles to traditional pictures, is on until Sunday, January 27, 2013.

Gen said: “While I appreciated that my day job was steady and pretty well-paid, I just felt so frustrated and bored, as I really wanted to do something creative – and my glass work was the one thing that was driving me on.

“Now I’m getting to do, what many people dream of – making a living doing what I love. And I’m also able to share the pleasure I get from working with glass by running courses to help other people get involved in the craft.”

Gen runs two-hour taster courses, and one-two day introductory courses from her workshop in Swires Road, where people can learn fused glass, mosaic or stained glass techniques. She offers vouchers for her courses – which come in gift boxes with a glass sample, making an unusual Xmas present - and she’scurrently running a special seasonal course on making Xmas decorations in glass.

Gen said: “The idea for the courses arose at an “Art in the Pen” exhibition at Skipton Auction Mart. Two ladies came up and asked if I did any classes. I spontaneously said ‘yes’, then quickly set up a course for them and it snowballed from there”.

Students on the courses can learn ..

lFused glass work – using a kiln to heat up separate pieces of glass so that they ‘melt’ together

lCombining different colours and textures to make decorative pictures, bowls and jewellery

lMosaic – learning to cut glass tiles to make intricate designs for things like mirrors and frames

lStained glass – creating large colourful flat panels, using leaded glass

By the end of the course, the students are able to make something themselves which they can take away and treasure.

As her business was going from strength to strength, Gen wanted to share her success with others – and she went on to set up a northern branch of the Contemporary Glass Society – a not-for-profit organisation which enables people working with glass to share ideas and support each other.

For further information about Wicked Gen or the Northern Contemporary Glass Society, visit www.wickedgencrafts.co.uk ; or contact gen on 07929 724349 email gen@wickedgencrafts.co.uk

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