OVERDUE are talking to Cassie Atkinson this week, whose livelihood in events ceased to exist during Lockdown which took her down an entirely new path.
As told to Miranda Wilkinson
Working in events, as soon as Lockdown hit my work very quickly dried up. I went through the staying in and reading, watching tv and DIY projects like everyone else, but I found myself wanting to do something more. It might sound strange but I had a strong desire to make something beautiful. Looking back, I think subconsciously it was my way of trying to balance out the overwhelming feeling of negativity and sadness that seemed to have consumed the world.
I have struggled in lockdown like everyone else; when your world becomes so small it is hard to put things into perspective, but you also start to appreciate the small things. I would lie in bed in the morning, see the sunlight coming through the windows, and think how lucky I was to be able to appreciate it. I’d be out walking my dog, seeing pictures of rainbows and thank yous to key workers in windows with such touching messages of hope and love — it showed people apart but trying to stay together, and I suppose I wanted to try to add to that in my own way.
So, I started making stained glass. To me, stained glass is about sharing something beautiful, it’s for you to enjoy but when it’s in a window you share it with everyone outside too. Like flowers in a front garden — it has the ability to brighten up everyone’s day, it’s about giving.
I’d learnt to make stained glass with lead a while ago (the kind you would see in church windows) but it is something you need quite a bit of space for. So I bought some glass and started teaching myself the copper-foil technique, where each piece of glass is cut, ground, foiled, soldered together and polished. The technique was invented by Louis Comfort Tiffany, who was part of the family that owned Tiffany and Co. His work led to the famous Tiffany lamps which is something that is possible to do in smaller spaces. I also decided to work with lead-free solder, it is notoriously tricky to work with but it is better for the environment and safe to handle too. It was not easy, but after a lot of trial and error, I started to figure out what worked for me.
The stained glass community is a lot larger in America and Canada, which means you really have to hunt for certain materials and get creative when you don’t have access to things close-by. This meant the smaller amount of people who make stained glass in the UK support each other and there are social media groups to share tips and tricks.
I now make stained glass inspired by music and retro vibes. I wanted to make smaller, more accessible pieces of vibrant home décor that would bring colour and fun wherever you hang them. I’ve also found the process really therapeutic; it’s helped me to manage my stress, improve my self-esteem and given me a sense of purpose with my days. I started selling pieces to friends and family, the feedback was amazing so I’ve now started selling online. The thought that I’ve made something that one friend has used to cheer up another is so fulfilling.
I don’t know what my life will look like after Covid, but I am really happy I listened to a little voice in my head that told me to do this, the thought of something that makes me smile might also bring joy to others is endlessly rewarding.