Learning the ‘art of glass’ at the Chippendale School of Furniture

An interview with Eilidh Keith, a stained glass and leaded light artist, and the furniture school’s visiting specialist in stained glass.

Furniture school students learning from Eilidh Keith, stained glasss artist
Furniture school students learning from Eilidh Keith, stained glasss artist

Eilidh Keith is the Chippendale International School of Furniture’s visiting ‘glass artist’, and spends a week each year during the third term teaching the furniture school students how to work with stained glass. Eilidh is one of the distinguished tutors and visiting experts who make invaluable contributions to enriching the woodworking courses. Her impressive business and teaching career extends to more than 20 years.

The glass artist teaches the furniture students the basics of working with stained glass: cutting, leading, copper foiling and soldering. The furniture school students also explore glass design and its history: “how does it fit in with Tiffany, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mackintosh?”

Under Eilidh’s tuition, each student makes a presentation piece of stained glass for their ‘Chippendale Apprentice Box’, a neat portfolio of work each student makes to show to prospective clients and employers after graduation.

“The standard here is very high” according to Eilidh. “The students tend to be extremely good at making things, very articulate craftsmen. It’s a very practical woodworking course.”

Eilidh Keith studied Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, followed by a postgraduate qualification in stained glass at the Edinburgh College of Art. She finished her studies with a Masters Degree in Glass and Sculpture at the Ohio State University. Eilidh has won many awards and grants including a Studying Scholarship to the Edinburgh College of Art and a University Fellowship at Ohio State University.

After graduating Eilidh stayed on in the US where she taught and worked with glass, designed glasswork and created ‘fused art jewellery’ before returning to Glasgow in Scotland where she branched out with her own Glass Art Studio workshop to create stained glass and architectural glass. Client commissions were complemented by lecturing in the Glass Department at the Glasgow School of Art. small-group_cropped_blog-img_0155

“I love the process of working with stained glass; it’s about colour and light,” the glass artist says. “I really enjoy working with clients – I like the relationships and the fact that my pieces don’t just pile up in a cupboard!”

Eilidh’s stained glass projects have spanned New Kirkpatrick Parish Church in Bearsden, St Clare’s College in Oxford, the Art Collector’s House in Wales, Heriot Watt University and many other churches across Scotland.

“One of my favourite projects was restoring the vandalised stained glass First World War memorial and Blitz windows at Kilbowie St Andrews Church in Clydebank.”

Eilidh has restored many Scottish church windows
Eilidh has restored many Scottish church windows

Some commissions involve fusing and slumping glass. These are techniques that can be used to make glass bowls. Eilidh has also created stained glass images for cards (see photo).

Eilidh concludes: “I’ve been coming to the Chippendale School of Furniture for 14 years and always look forward to it. The quality of craftsmanship at the furniture school is wonderful. This course is really about furniture making, and there’s a lot of focus on doing things well and properly. The furniture school students learn about veneering, gold leafing, varnishing and polishing, techniques you don’t see taught very often.  So many other craft courses are too computer-based today and there’s not much real ‘making’.”

Eilidh Keith can be contacted on 0141 339 5952 or 0781 886 1252.

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