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Natsumi sees success in glass ball thanks to Futures Fund

Natsumi Jones

Natsumi in the Cold Work Room.

Natsumi Jones's piece

One of her final pieces.

Natsumi Jones’ passion for glassmaking had already drawn her to the specialist world-class facilities at the University of Sunderland.  

However, with assistance from the Futures Fund, she was able to further her education with a trip to one of the United States’ finest glass schools.  

Natsumi spent weeks at New York’s Corning Museum of Glass, completing a workshop programme that saw her gain new skills, make connection and expand her portfolio of work.  

From the moment she arrived, the BA Glass and Ceramics student was immediately put through her paces, taking on an intensive schedule that saw her working up to 14 hours a day. Yet, Natsumi rose to the challenge, thriving in the intense environment and producing more work than she has ever done before.  

“We worked from nine in the morning till the studio closed at 11 at night every day,” she explained. “It was an incredibly hard but very satisfying experience. Kiln casting is the most time consuming subject and normally takes at least a week to make a small object, but we have managed to make four objects within two weeks which is a remarkable achievement.”  

During her time at the school, Natsumi was able to develop her kiln skills, an area of glassmaking she has long been passionate about but unable to pursue at home.  

“Their cold workshop was honestly fantastic. I was able to use equipment that we don’t have in Sunderland or that students aren’t able to operate,” she added.   

Natsumi soon found that she was not the only Japanese student at the school, quickly striking up friendships with her compatriots from whom she learned a great deal from while at Corning.  

She continued: “Coincidentally there were a few more Japanese people studying at Corning.

“One of them was a residency artist who had a lot more experience than me. I was able to learn from her and she taught me specifically about cold work that is the most important process for kiln glass because it is the final polishing stage.”  

For Natsumi, one of the most rewarding aspects of her Corning experience was being able to interact with a range of students from cultures and learn new perspectives on glassmaking. Although she arrived to develop her skills, she left with a group of new friends.  

“All staff, students and technicians were very friendly and helpful in every stage which made me very comfortable during my study. They had special events almost every day such as lectures of visiting artists, a tour of the headquarter office, tutorials with artists and photography sessions,” she said.  

“I was hugely inspired by exchanging cultural experiences and  from listening to the different perspectives of people from other countries.”  

The trip was made possible thanks to the Futures Fund, who helped cover the considerable travel costs that any trip to the United States requires. Natsumi was hugely thankful to the Fund and its donors, adding that the trip had been truly “life changing.”  

She concluded: “Throughout this two week workshop I have learned not only new techniques, but also gained friendship and broadened my horizons.  

Without the help of Futures Fund, this hugely impactful experience would not have been possible. I am certainly very thankful and overwhelmed to have been chosen for a unique and great opportunity.  

Thank you very much to the Futures Fund and donors, your generosity changed my life significantly.” 

Article written by Matthew Shevlin, University of Sunderland Journalism graduate.

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