Happiest in the hot shop, Laura Smith is the founder of Laura Elizabeth Glass, a bespoke glassmaking company specialising in eclectic, elegant commissions. Bermuda-born and raised, Smith creates glasswork heavily inspired by her island home. Her subtle use of metal leaf and sandblasting gives her pieces a more elemental look and feel, with colour palettes and patterns inspired by familiar forces of nature. “Bermuda is a special place,” Smith shares, “with deep connections to the elements, and I constantly relate back to that.”
Flecks of verdigris and cool tones melt into whimsical, one-of-a-kind designs reflective of the unpredictability of the waves, clouds and rain. “The closeness of nature, the fragility of ecosystems and, of course, the gorgeous light are huge influences,” she elaborates, as well as “the fierce hurricanes contrasted with the lush landscape of the island.”
“I love the dichotomy,” she continues, “the threat of a storm but also the beauty of it as a squall streaks across the ocean.”
Smith’s first foray into glassmaking came from a two-week intensive course in Murano, Italy. “Once you overcome a fear of heat and the counterintuitive impulse to get away from hot objects—you’re hooked,” she says. “I don’t recommend learning glassmaking in a language you don’t speak, though,” she adds jokingly. Smith spent the following summers in Bermuda learning alongside the expert craftsmen at Dockyard Glassworks, before moving on to study art and design at the Chelsea College of Arts, and later, Edinburgh College of Art.
“After graduating in 2007, I moved to London to hunt down a job in glassmaking,” Smith explains, evolving her craft with apprenticeships along the way. “I’ve been running Laura Elizabeth Glass for over eight years now,” she says, noting how she’s never stopped learning while perfecting her process. Battling the elements of extreme temperature and executing quick, dexterous work, Smith charts the journey of a piece from its inception to its end. “The glass sits at 1100°C in the furnace. So, it’s molten hot, and a texture like honey.” The glass is then moulded to the desired shape and the metal leaf is added, regularly entering a reheating chamber, “all while constantly moving and turning the glass to achieve the correct form.” The results are breathtaking: orbs of luminous beauty and fluidity.
Inspiration never falters, either, for this creative artist: “I love designing—everywhere I go, everything I see, I am always finding things that inspire me to create,” she explains. “And I love working with my hands—if I haven’t been in the hot shop for a few weeks, I get withdrawals. It’s my happy place.”
Smith continues to grow her business, too, recently co-founding Molten alongside her sister, Emily. With this new venture, the pair are providing a more “off-the-shelf” way to shop their products. “Molten was birthed with the core concept that we reuse all the excess glass throughout the making process and put this excess into a new product.”
“Our first collection, FLECK, has a simplicity in its design—clear glass with silver or champagne gold leaf—and the excess of these is melted down and used for our limited-edition products. The first one will drop in Winter 2022, so keep your eyes peeled!”
“Molten has allowed us to build a brand that represents the circular design ethos that is so important to Emily and me, while also giving a wider audience access to beautiful handblown glass pieces, whether it’s tumblers, bowls, lighting, and more.”
Smith’s coveted chandeliers, vases and sculptural work can be seen in homes across the island, as well as in the UK, the US and India. “TABS have always been a great supporter of mine,” she adds, gratefully accrediting them as the first local retailer to bring in her bespoke tumblers, which can now be found on www.moltenmolten.com. “And of course,” she quickly adds, “we ship to Bermuda!”
For exclusive, commission-based pieces, visit lauraelizabethglass.com.