Kathleen James
Stained Glass Artist & Illustrator

My aim is to create art that uplifts and inspires calmness and positivity through illustration and the translucent and vivid medium of stained and blown glass. Catalysts for my work are history, mythology and folklore.

Elfgift Glass is the shop name for my work.  The studio is occasionally open to the public and we run workshops in the building. See Upcoming Events for the next date or get in touch for an appointment.

Ancient history, or How I Got Started

For many years my day job was as a technical author working in IT, writing software manuals. Yes, that’s just as dull as it sounds. Needing a bit of colour in life, I went back to university to study graphic design and illustration, earning a BA (Hons) in Visual Communication in 2007.

I became a full-time artist in 2017, using graphic design and drawing skills to create original patterns.  I started mainly using the copper foil technique made popular by L. C. Tiffany. My work often incorporates salvaged or reclaimed glass. Now, as a part-time student at the world-class glass arts centre at the University of Sunderland, studying for a BA (Hons) Artist, Designer, Maker: Glass and Ceramics, my glass repertoire has expanded considerably.

I’m inspired by history and stories like the Welsh legends in the Mabinogion. I visit places like the British Museum, the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle or cathedrals with a sketch book in hand. I’ve been spotted lurking on demolition sites in London to scavenge interesting glass from old windows.

A long time ago, we moved into a new house where a huge heap of glass was left behind by the previous owners. It was mostly clear, with interesting daisy patterns and ripples, cut into rectangles, circles and funny little arc shapes.

Then in 2004, I saw a stained glass course at the local arts centre and thought – oh, I could use it there. My tutor was Caroline Loveys at South Hill Park Arts Centre in Berkshire.  I started with that unexpected windfall of clear glass (which many of my designs are still using, all these years later), but it was the incredible colours that made me fall in love with stained glass. The intensity of Bristol Blue, the gold and red that never fades … it’s like holding a rainbow in your hand.  I fell in love with the craft and never looked back.