artist spotlight
Catherine Mahé

share your creative practice:
in conversation with Catherine Mahé

What does it mean to you to join the North Lands Creative network and be part of building a community for glass?


North Lands Creative is an amazing networking platform for glass makers all over the world and I really like how they’re passionate about pushing the boundaries with glass and encouraging glass artists to explore the medium further in their amazing facilities, something I aspire to do. 


Tell us about your work. What influences translate into your art practice?


My work is inspired by contrast found around me whether it is a flower or a piece of fabric. Contrast is achieved through a bold colour palette and through the juxtaposition of opalescent and transparent glass, with plain and patterned areas and smooth and textured sections within a piece.


Has this changed the way you approach your work?


The most striking and immediate aspect of my work is colour contrast. I am fascinated by colour theory and psychology and approach each piece with the intention of spreading a little happiness through colour. I am constantly experimenting with new palettes, mixing  colour theory and my own intuition.  


What initially captured your imagination about glass?


The amorphous property of glass is what initially attracted me to it as it allows for so many design possibilities and complexities of work. Although I like being in control of most situations, I also like a challenge and the ‘hard to tame’ characteristic of glass has always attracted me as it creates excitement and occasionally surprises, good and bad! 


What’s the significance of the handmade to you?


Handmade is a “love story” between a maker and their medium as they turn raw material into a beautiful object. It encompasses strong human values such as authenticity, pride, craftsmanship and generosity of time. A handmade object carries the energy and soul of the maker, making it very special. 


What was your route to becoming an artist?


I’m a self-taught artist who stumbled upon glass during my teaching career. With my dad being a joiner and my mum making soft furnishings for the home, making was always part of me. My first kilnformed glass piece was a nugget made in a basic kiln to incorporate into a mosaic piece. 

Watermelon - 2020 - Catherine Mahe - kilnformed drop out vessel

What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?


I’m a kilnformed glass artist who creates both functional pieces – using slumping moulds – and decorative objects such as drop out vessels as well as sculptural forms using bespoke moulds to create movement within the piece of work.


How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary glass?


I would describe my work as joyful, bold and contemporary. The striking colour palettes I use, combined with geometric patterns such as stripes, polka dots and checks contribute to the modern feel of my work. The tactile and fun appearance of each piece adds to the modern style.


Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?


Each piece goes through three to five firings from full fuse to tack fuse – to add texture – and multiple slumps. It all happens in my garden studio, from beginning to end. It’s my creative haven with a pretty view of the garden and where I also enjoy running workshops.


Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?


When it comes to aesthetics, I’m drawn to artists who have a playful approach to colour and pattern design and create uplifting work. To name a few: glass blowers Bob and Laurie Kliss, glass artist Klaus Moje and painter Gustav Klimt.


What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?


Contrasting texture is really inspiring me and I’m drawn to work which invites you to touch and feel the object, such as Vanessa Hogge’s textural porcelain pieces and Maarten Vrolijk’s handblown vessels. I love that connection with the material, the object and indirectly the maker through touch.


How are you experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in your country? To what extent has your everyday life as an artist changed in lockdown?


The pandemic has had a significant impact on my glass work as it got me developing my textured work. I found the repetitive cutting of tiny glass bits therapeutic, which I soon incorporated to my work as texture. Making tactile objects was also an antidote to our new touchless world.

Catherine Mahé

Catherine is the brainchild of cmglassdesigns, a line of functional and decorative kilnformed glass objects for the home. Contrast is a recurring theme throughout Catherine’s work: through bold and vibrant colour combinations, mixed patterns and the exploration of texture on a smooth glass surface. Light also plays a key part in this pursuit of contrast as opaque and transparent glass is carefully juxtaposed, allowing for exciting light effects and depth throughout the object. Catherine loves experimenting with the medium and is particularly fascinated by the vessel form achieved with the drop-out technique. She has also started exploring movement and flow through the use of bespoke slumping moulds to create unique sculptural shapes. Glass bending is also an area which Catherine would like to develop further. Achieving more organic and curved shapes without the constraints of moulds is exciting! Catherine enjoys the more scientific approach to such work when the outcome depends on controlling temperature, gravity and time as well as carefully monitoring the process.