STAINED glass artists Cariad Glass has seen a boost in online sales during lockdown after developing a fun make-at-home glass mosaic kit to give crafty customers a creative fix.

Husband and wife team Justine and Chris Dodd use traditional methods and techniques to create bespoke art and glass pieces, specialising in commission and restoration work. They also offer face-to-face courses at their studio for those who wish to learn more about glass crafts.

The Llandysul business had received a micro loan from the Development Bank of Wales to support their growth and give them working capital shortly before lockdown was announced.

Co-owner Justine said: “We realised fairly early on into the lockdown that we’d need to move production out of our studio. We took home a bench and set up a studio in our log cabin summerhouse at the bottom of our garden. We had a few commissions to work on, but needed to postpone all of our classes.

“Chris was working on a piece that had been pre-ordered for May. I filmed him working so that we could share this with our customers, many of whom had booked courses with us. That had a good response and it got us thinking about other things we may be able to offer our customers during lockdown.”

Keen to offer something to do at home for customers who were missing face-to-face courses, the pair came up with idea of a small hanging glass mosaic panel that you can make at home.

They built a 20cm by 10cm ready-to-hang frame and cut and leaded glass pieces – the bit that cannot be safely done in a domestic kitchen. The process of putting together a glass mosaic using domestic equipment was filmed and they put the video on their Facebook page. They were soon inundated with requests to buy the £25 kits.

“Our sales of smaller artisan pieces usually comes through galleries and exhibitions which are all on hold at present. Our website shop, the Stained Glass Emporium has been invaluable - we’ve sold nearly 200 of these kits since we made that post,” said Justine.

“There’s been a real appetite for them and people have loved sharing pictures of their finished creations with us.

“They’ve been so popular that we’ve drafted in our daughter Hattie, who would have been sitting her A-levels this summer, to take over the boxing and delivery part of the processes. It’s kept us fresh and busy through the lockdown, keeping creative ideas going is so important for an artisan businesses like ours.

But it’s also been fantastic seeing our customers have fun and learn new techniques. We love teaching glass making and glass arts and this is a way we’ve been able to carry on this whilst our studio remains closed to customers.”

The family have recently moved production back from the garden summer house to their studio and are looking at ways that they can safely re-open to the public when restrictions ease further.

They’ve been supported through lockdown by Development Bank of Wales portfolio executive Donna Williams.

She said: “It’s great to see how west Wales businesses are using their ingenuity and grit to come up with new ways to keep their business going through these uncertain times. Justine and Chris have been fantastic, offering a new product which has provided a valuable creative and mental boost to customers.

“Thinking about the needs of their customers first, many of whom have had face-to-face courses postponed, they developed a fun and flexible new product. The ‘make your own glass mosaics’ have been selling like hot cakes and have opened up a new way of doing business for this family team.”