Ruth Dresman makes vessels in coloured glass, with sandblasted design which emphasise the colour transparency and translucency of the material. She has evolved a distinctive technique which is exclusive to her studio, based on the controlled removal of layers of coloured glass to describe her designs.
After studying 3D Design: Glass at West Surrey College of Art & Design, Ruth worked as a studio assistant at The Glasshouse, London and then became craftsperson in residence at a gallery in Salisbury. She then spent a year travelling to the USA, Mexico, Indonesia and India before returning to her native Wiltshire to set up her independent glass studio in 1986. Ruth was commissioned by Buckingham Palace on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen to make gifts for the Sultan of Brunei and his family during the Royal Visit in 1998, and has also made architectural commissions for public and private sites, including an architectural sculpture commission at New Salisbury Hospital in collaboration with blacksmith Jayne Fortune.
She initially undertook all stages of the making of her pieces, including blowing and forming, but gradually realised that her skills and time were better channelled into design and decoration of the work and now the 25% lead crystal glass forms, primarily bowls and bottles, are blown under Ruth's direction. Each piece is unique, and the processes which go into making it are extraordinarily time consuming. Her work involves close attention to detail, fine drawing and very detailed cutting, using a scalpel to create a series of 'resists' in adhesive plastic sheet. This is followed by subtle control of a difficult process: using sand blasting to erode the surfaces she has left exposed to different degrees to achieve varying effects and depths of colour. Sand blasting is a noisy, dusty process which makes for low visibility and requires the use of protective clothing. Through years of practice Ruth has overcome these obstacles and developed an understanding of how the resist process and the careful use of high pressure sand can yield particular effects of colour and texture.
Certain themes are recurrent in her work: many of her images are submarine: fish, octopus, seaweed and shells, which suit the transparency of glass and the glimpses it affords of designs made on opposite surfaces of the vessels. She also enjoys observing animals, birds, flowers, leaves and seeds, and translating their forms and their textures into her works. Ruth's medium is not only glass, but light: she designs the way light travels through her pieces, achieving great depth of colour and piercing highlights of pure transparency.