Marie Velenski’s journey from fisherman’s daughter to glass artist found its own path during a visit to a stained glass shop in Bridlington.
“I was living in the north of England in Hull, and I visited a stained glass shop, which had rooms to wander through, and all this amazing stuff.”
The shop had several rooms and in one small back room, in a dusty corner, there was was a little piece of glass, Ms Velenski said.
“It was clear glass with some little chips of coloured glass melted into it, and I just couldn’t believe it.
“The idea of melting glass just really excited me,” Ms Velenski said.
Using glass offcuts from the picture framing shop that she was managing at the time, Ms Velenski began experimenting, creating wire and melted glass jewellery and ornaments.
“My best friend was a potter, so I played, experimented.
“The first pieces I wouldn’t want anyone to see, but it was exciting, so I just kept doing it,” Ms Velenski said.
Returning to New Zealand around 14 years ago, Ms Velenski set up a small workshop and gallery in a former butcher’s shop in the Old Cromwell Historic Precinct.
“I recycle picture framing glass. I just use all the offcuts from the picture framer, and I recycle window glass.”
Ms Velenski also takes broken crockery and wires it back together using intricate loops and flourishes, turning reject objects into art.
“I lost everything in a fire, so this grew out of losing things, and unrealistically you want them back.”
For Ms Velenski being able to re-purpose scrap materials into beautiful art is a pleasure.
“I love it; it’s nice to be able to do that.
“People leave chipped plates and handle-less cups on my doorstep. I come back and there is a wee pile of rubble waiting for me,”Ms Velenski said.
“I like to think that, in a way, they can look nicer than they did to begin with,” she said.