If stained glass comes with rather stuffy associations, London-based Annahita Hessami doesn’t concern herself with them. One of the leading lights in a new wave of designer-makers bringing a fresh approach to the traditional craft, she fell in love with the medium while an apprentice at a glass studio in Hertfordshire and has since honed a bold aesthetic.
When asked to design a bespoke cherry blossom window for a Grade II-listed cottage, the Iranian artist, whose output includes collaborative work with typography artists, “decided to approach it in an abstract fashion, using hexagonal shapes and acid etching into gold-pink flashed glass. It has the texture and feel of cherry blossom without being a formal interpretation.” She is currently working on a Persian calligraphy piece. “The process is pushing my skill-set and the boundaries of the craft,” she says.
But that’s not to say Hessami doesn’t undertake more traditional commissions (small decorative panels start at around £420) – and deliver them with aplomb. “Last year I was given a brief to design some art nouveau-inspired Scottish thistle windows,” she says, of her most ambitious projects to date. “It was a major challenge as it’s not a style that comes naturally to me. The eventual outcome was nothing like what I had constructed in my head, but I am totally amazed that it came from me. It’s an incredibly impactful piece.”
Cut Glass Studio’s remit also includes etched glass panels and restoration work, but it’s the projects with “no specific deadlines and lots of creative freedom” that excite Hessami the most. “Even if you just have a colour or style in mind, we will use this to produce a range of ideas for you to choose from.” Commissions can be wrought in either antique or machined glass, depending on the desired finish, adds Hessami, whose clients include artist Peter Blake: “I’m making a series of his Dazzle Discs interpreted in stained glass.”
But has she noticed an increase in demand for her services as stained glass courts a new cool? “I am certainly busy, but I have never considered stained glass a trend-able thing,” she says. “Having said that, I have noticed a lot more people picking it up and giving it a go, which is a great thing all round. If a window is made and fitted well, it will live for more than a hundred years.”