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Stained-Glass Artist Poppy Templeton On The Finding The Beauty In A Lost Craft

Studio Visit

Artist Poppy Templeton was first introduced to stained glass when her mother did a lead-lighting course in the ’80s. But it wasn’t until last year that she decided to follow in her footsteps and take up the retro art form for herself.

Poppy had been searching for her own creative outlet for years, and glass art happened to be the perfect match! Her hand-crafted pieces often incorporate found mirrors and vintage glass – giving them a beautifully nostalgic quality.

We recently popped in to Poppy’s Brunswick home studio to learn more about her unique and intricate practice.

13th June, 2022

Step inside Poppy Templeton’s home studio! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Poppy Templeton. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Her workspace is filled with magical glass and mirror creations! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘Everything I do seems to be a bit of a mystery to people who have never made stained glass themselves. Some of my friends still think I work with glass in a hot, liquid state,’ Poppy says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I work with a huge range of materials and equipment, unfortunately a lot of which is either toxic or otherwise dangerous; glass, solder, lead, copper foil, patina, polish, glass paint, glass grinders, soldering irons, beads and jewellery findings,’ she says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Poppy prefers to cut freehand without a drawing – which is a fairly uncommon approach for glass artists! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

She’s been working as a glass artist full-time since November 2021! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Lots of her pieces feature vintage glass and mirrors. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

In addition to her custom glass frames and mirrors, Poppy also creates delicate glass jewellery! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘All of my favourite works are my most abstract ones,’ Poppy says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Her use of warm coloured glasses makes for pretty coloured rays of light. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

‘I know it’s been said ad nauseam by artists but I take my inspiration from nature. I like to find the lines and patterns in natural forms and I take my colour palettes from memories of beaches or sunsets or gardens,’ she adds. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files

Christina Karras
Monday 13th June 2022

In 2022, stained-glass has become a bit of a lost art. Lead-light windows are rare to find in modern homes, and the practice seems to be a bit of mystery for the general public, but Melbourne artist Poppy Templeton is optimistic that it’s making a comeback.

‘I don’t believe stained glass will ever become an entirely lost art!’ Poppy says. ‘For that reason, it’s exciting to work within it, it means I have the opportunity to convince people of its worth.’

Poppy says she had always thought of stained-glass art as ‘an unbelievably cool medium’. So, when a friend suggested she learn the ropes with her at Melbourne Polytechnic last year, she happily gave it a shot. It quickly lead to her starting her own glass-art business, Duck Ragu!

‘I’ve made art since I was a child but as an adult, I couldn’t seem to find a medium that worked with me and made me happy,’ she explains. ‘But the more I think about glass and learn about colour and light-based therapy, the less it seems like a random coincidence that led me to this art form.’

Poppy’s striking glass creations are imbued with warmth, and often feature a combination of abstract forms and shapes inspired by nature – ranging from motifs of the sun, to colour palettes drawn from happy memories at the beach and delicate florals. But her favourite pieces tend to come from simple ideas or briefs from customers, such as a request to hero the colour red or ‘I really like circles’.

‘I always begin by looking at glass,’ Poppy says. ‘Because colour is the most important part of what I create I start there and let it inform the rest of the process.’

She prefers to cut freehand without a drawing and just designs as she goes along. ‘After everything’s cut, I grind the glass to fit, wrap each piece with copper foil, solder them together and do the finishing touches,’ Poppy explains. The entire process can take anywhere between 6 and more than 60 hours depending on the design.

‘Glass has a steep learning curve that never seems to end and things go wrong very often, if not daily. I’ve developed a strange respect for glass as a medium and don’t let myself get too fussed with mishaps.’

She’s even ended up in the emergency room a few times in the six months! But just like the unique refractions of light that her pieces create, it’s all part of the unpredictable beauty of her work.

Shop Poppy’s work via her shop, Duck Ragu, online here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net