Sheffield Artist Juliet Forrest
Welcome Juliet Forrest and her stunning stained glass art to the Volta Creative “Hall of Fame”. We came across Juliet’s work while designing this years Art in the Gardens programme and fell in love with it.
Juliet Forrest Glass is a stained glass studio based in Walkley, Sheffield. They specialise in fine art stained glass using a range of techniques from traditional painting and lead work used in churches for centuries, to contemporary style fused glass. They produce a wide range of products from large scale architectural window commissions, smaller fine art gallery painted pieces, to outdoor steel and glass sculptural work. Juliet founded the business in 2014 and is the main designer/artist and Dave, her husband joined later and assists in a variety of roles, most notably with the metalwork element of the sculpture side.
Volta: What did you do before you did what you do now?
Juliet: Well, I’m a little bit random really having studied Zoology, had a handmade greetings card business then going into Occupational Therapy and more recently working in mental health, delivering wellbeing courses and the anger management programme for Sheffield Mind.
I started my art business in 2014 selling acrylic landscape paintings and smaller glass items, and since then it has turned completely to stained glass art and outdoor sculpture. Dave joined the team in 2016 after working in I.T. where he still contracts intermittently.
Volta: How did your current style develop and how do you see it developing in the future?
Juliet: I have always been ‘arty and crafty’ and that has always been about playing with various materials and seeing what potential they have. Much of my style centres on experimenting with an idea in mind; how can I use certain materials or combine different techniques to produce the vision I have in my mind? When I first played with glass it was simply for amusement but I ended up falling in love with the material and the possibilities it offers.
Stained glass commission work is a big part of the business and that can also be a driver for development, with clients bringing new ideas and challenges that I would not have otherwise tackled. A good example would be my sea serpent panel for a private client and also a large abstract piece recently made for the University of Sheffield, which I cannot yet share!
I love complexity and colour and I always aim to make things which are exceptional in quality and hopefully something people haven’t seen before. I like combining different techniques and materials to produce something fun and original and certainly will continue to do this in the future- who knows where that will take me!
Volta: If you’re not originally from Sheffield, why did you decide to settle here?
Juliet: Dave was offered a job here 20 years ago, well it was the choice between here and London – so a no brainer really! He’s from Essex and I’m from East Sussex. We really love it here and, although our accents sound completely wrong however we say things now, we feel reet at home!
Volta: How would you describe what you do?
Juliet: Bloody complicated!
Volta: Have you ever made a mistake while creating a piece that you learned a lesson from?
Juliet: I’m always making mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning!
Volta: If you could choose famous one person to own one of your pieces of work, who would it be?
Juliet: I don’t care much for fame, nor regard it as something in itself to be in awe of, but I certainly have great respect and fondness for Sir David Attenborough as I think he’s a proper good egg and I share his views on many issues. Incidentally he was awarded an honorary degree in Zoology from the University of Nottingham the same year I graduated with the same degree, and I shook his hand on that very day!
Volta: Can you remember the first piece of work you ever sold?
Juliet: Not the very first, as I have been selling crafty bits and bobs for years and years and years. BUT; I do remember the first painting I sold at a proper price; it was a painting called ‘Froggatt Edge’ in the open exhibition at the Great Sheffield Art Show in around 2012 and I was elated and flabbergasted! That was the point where I thought ‘goodness, this art malarkey might actually have legs’.
Volta: What piece of your own work gives you the most satisfaction and why?
Juliet: All pieces give me satisfaction for different reasons, be it aesthetically or through the particular technical challenges needed, but there are a few that you just fall in love with a little bit. One of mine is my St. Elizabeth panel (see left image below), made as part of a studio award placement and, in the end and with a wrench, it sold to a stained glass enthusiast and possibly now, my biggest fan!
Volta: What is your favourite thing about Sheffield?
Juliet: It’s very friendly and has everything you need but it’s not too big. I’m a bit of a country bumpkin at heart so it’s lovely living in Walkley with all the convenience and excitement of the city close by but also being within a 10 minute walk from open countryside.
Volta: What advice would you give an aspiring fellow creative who was wanting to break through to the next level?
Juliet: You need to be aware of what ‘turning your hobby into a business’ really entails; be prepared that at the beginning at least half your time will be spent doing things other than creating; and these things are usually very dull like setting up a website, accounting or filling in show application forms!
There are many skills required to run a business successfully but, as a creative, one key skill is being able to honestly appraise your work. This is not about being overly critical or beating yourself up, but about being able to constantly improve and develop as well as assessing where you sit in relation to the competition.
Sheffield based Artist Juliet Forrest
Want to find out a little more about Sheffield based Artist Juliet Forrest’s work?
Here are links to Juliet’s Etsy site and social media channels – enjoy!