Glass artist Kate Webley tells us about her floating studio on the Chesterfield Canal
Kate Webley creates handmade fused glassware inspired by the inland waterways aboard a 28ft narrowboat on the Chesterfield Canal near Worksop. She commissioned The Pod, a purpose-built floating studio, after moving onto her boat Tallulah II, as she quickly realised that a 41ft liveaboard narrowboat doesn’t allow much room to work.
“Glass is a lovely material once it’s fired and finished but when you’re working with it, it’s very dusty and you get splinters all over the place,” Kate explains. “It’s much better to keep it all separate – and if you can have one boat, why not two?”
When the business was taking off, Kate looked into getting a bigger workshop but didn’t see the point. “Everything I do is tied up with working on the canals and being on a boat. All I need to do is look out of the window for inspiration.” A shed next to the mooring serves as an office as Kate concedes it’s nice to be able to keep the paperwork away from the creative space.
Physically, the kiln is the biggest Kate could get onto The Pod – but it wasn’t easy. At 85kg and worth several thousand pounds, the fragile piece of equipment had to be handled carefully. “It arrived on a honking big pallet that took a day just to unwrap,” says Kate. “Before attempting to get it on board, I double checked the measurements. A slight problem: the website had listed it incorrectly and the kiln was bigger than the gap through which it had to fit.”
She eventually got it in place by turning it onto its side on the front of the boat and squeezing it through the doors. “There was much swearing and I spent the whole time wondering if it would be covered by the insurance if it fell into the canal!”