We spoke with Australian glass artist Rozlyn de Bussey about her extensive experience and studio techniques.
ABI: Tell us about the materials and the technique you are using in creating your artwork.
RD: Historically speaking, glass making is for me ancestral. It seems some of my ancestors also worked in glass and ceramics amongst other guilds. To my surprise, I seem to come from a long line of artisans!
I have 39 years of experience and I’m quite versatile. I have degrees in Architectural Stained Glass, Hot Glass, Warm Glass, and Cold Glass, and sub-majored in Art History, a total of 12 years of academic training including my apprenticeship in Architectural Glass. I specifically concentrate on painting both on the surface of glass and in-between layers of glass using high and low firing enamels and lusters, and am proficient in engraving using a flexible shaft (it’s like a dental drill). Indeed, I have been trained in all aspects glass making techniques and use whatever suits a specific project.
How we make our works is, to a certain degree, our trade secrets passed down through generations, and having trained academically for 12 years, including my apprenticeship, I have learned not to give away recipes. This can lead to plagiarism, and again historically speaking, glassmakers were ruthless in keeping their traditions alive, along with their income. Even my lecturers did not give us complete knowledge. We had to discover how to work with the tools of trade we had.
ABI: What is your experience working with architects?
RD: I work on a number of pieces and themes depending on the season, commission or exhibition, be it architectural, which is rare these days. Over the years I have worked on architectural projects including a Catholic Church here in Canberra (making the Alter and Tabernacle and used glass bricks for a wall feature), and on a private residence again using glass bricks as a feature wall. In Sydney, I was apprenticed in more traditional areas, and worked on major glass restoration projects such as the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, the City Tatterstalls Club and glass work for the writer Colleen McCollough’s home on Norfolk Island.
I was initially traditionally trained in Architectural Glass using a pencil, fine line pens and graph paper. I have never used CAD and so architects need to give me the dimensions. I then work from these to design and fashion works, and have others install them under my supervision.
ABI: How has your work evolved to what you are doing today?
RD: My early experience was in reproducing historical stained glass for many buildings in the inners areas of Sydney, as well as doing restoration on other building prior to my coming to Canberra to further my studies in glass. This changed my focus to more exhibition works and works to suit the interiors of homes.
Interior design, exhibitions and production works have been my direction for a number of years. These days with technology moving so fast, many historical technical processes are now being lost and conservation is coming to the fore. It’s where my works are heading and I have re-contextualized many historical technical processes in order to survive in my chosen field of expertise, also keeping my hand in on both historical conservation and the making of architectural glass for contemporary buildings.