Glass engraving art in Abu Dhabi

Nancy Sutcliffe on how she discovered her passion for glass engraving

Glass engraving art in Abu Dhabi

Drawing has always fascinated Nancy Sutcliffe, with the precise detailing of the art form proving particularly attractive to her.

She worked as a technical scientific and medical illustrator at a teaching hospital in London where she spent most of her days drawing and reproducing elements of real life. However, with the wave of new technology growing stronger and with it the flow of graphic design, Sutcliffe decided to become commander of her own ship and pursued her profession as a freelance illustrator. Her projects were varied, including books for the BBC, school textbooks and atlases.

Her love of working with glass began accidentally. After being invited to a workshop at the Guild of Glass Engravers, Sutcliffe was immediately hooked. She followed up with a few more courses and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sutcliffe, who has lived in the UAE since 2009, has now been glass engraving for 12 years. In that time she has displayed her work at several exhibitions around the world. Her first solo show, Mirror Mirror, is currently on display at the Galerie am Museum in Frauenau, Germany, and will be until the last week of September.

When an idea hits, Sutcliffe draws it to help her visualise it better. She then sketches it out with a marker on a block of glass. Next, she uses a small handheld drill to chisel away the design. The drill is fitted with diamond and stone burrs of varying shapes and sizes to help her cut into the glass precisely and add in the details. Sutcliffe also gilds the engravings with silver or gold leaf, if the piece so demands. “I flesh out every idea I have because you don’t really get to know what works until you make it,” she says.

Sutcliffe also creates a lot of engraved faces and figures. Typically each will have one exaggerated feature – in most cases it’s the hair. Insects also feature, and some of them may have gold leaf wings.

Engraving, she says, is a way of giving her ideas a more realistic and 3D representation. Little did she know that her penchant for simple illustration would lead her on to something that is so creative and almost therapeutic.

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