By Hope Best
My name is Hope and I’m …… a glass addict!
Now that’s out the way, I can tell you that I was born in Zambia. My family moved to South Africa when I was 6 and we pretty much lived everywhere you could think of. We finally settled in Rustenburg where I went to high school.
Being a small-town girl, I moved to Johannesburg as soon as I finished school. I spent a year in Cape Town in the 80’s and some time in good old Durban. We came to England in 2002 when my son was 7. It was tough and lonely as my whole family was still in South Africa.
I met my husband at work. We dated for a long time and 4 years ago we exchanged vows on a late December afternoon in a casual church ceremony. It was everything I had wanted – down to the pastor having icing sugar on her jumper after sneaking a mince pie before the service! I gained a lovely 16-year-old stepdaughter.
I started my business in 2013 when I took a redundancy package and opened an arts and crafts studio. This is where I was introduced to glass. It very quickly took over my life. A year later, my other half bought me a second kiln to keep up with orders as business was growing, but it was not to be. A car accident and back injury forced me to put everything into storage and return to a full time job. Then at the end of 2017, just when I thought things were going so well, the big C threw a curved ball at me. Long story cut short, I was off work for an extended period of time. I re-evaluated my goals and decided to give the glass another go. Hope Best Design was born.
So, now I work from home as a full-time artist. My studio is a glorified garage, which gets the sunshine in summer and the arctic cold in the winter, but I love it! It’s the first place I head for in the morning. The neighbours must wonder ‘what the heck’ when I whoop, shout out and do the happy dance when the kiln gods have been good to me. I get to enjoy the amazing bird life that visits my garden and giggle at the four crazy squirrel’s antics. It doesn’t end there. My neighbours have four horses, a donkey and a Shetland pony. I chuckle every time the donkey does his ‘hee-haw’ thing and that’s often. I feel truly blessed.
My working day consists of dreaming up all things nice to make out of glass, a lot of cutting and grinding and finally assembling the makes before they go to the kiln. The glass is specially manufactured in the US and melts at a lower temperature than your usual window glass. There are three main firing schedules depending on the outcome I want to achieve. A full fuse is the hottest firing at 804 degrees Celsius and melts everything to a single layer. I prefer to work with texture, so most of my firings range around the 735-degree mark. Quite a few of my items will go in for additional firings where I will slump or shape them into bowls or free-standing curves. I make functional pieces, glass art, jewellery and statement pieces. I love a challenge and I really enjoy the challenge of making customised / bespoke commissions.
You can meet Hope at the Celebrate Southern Africa market in Wiltshire on 1st June 2019.