Crackers and cheese. Socks and shoes. Pen and paper.

All combinations that work well together.

UCOL student Jonothan Cuff, 36, thinks he has found a new one. Glass and steel.

The mediums work well together as a form of mixed media sculpture, but they are not as easily mixed as the combinations above.

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"I'm putting hot glass into a steel structure and they heat and cool at different rates," Mr Cuff said.

"It's a difficult process to get them to form correctly, not a lot of people around the world have had good outcomes from it."

Mixed media means combining different elements and Mr Cuff has been doing it with glass and steel for about two years.

He completed a bachelor of design and arts last year and was at UCOL's graduation ceremony at the Royal Opera House on Thursday.

Becoming an artist was not always the plan, Mr Cuff was a mechanical engineer when he was involved in a serious motorcycle accident 10 years ago.

He fractured his back, ruptured some discs and suffered damaged nerves.

"After about two years of rehab and surgery, I tried to get back into the workforce, but every 6-8 months I was out on ACC, just from stress to my back.

"After 3, 4, 5 years of struggling in the work force I thought 'na I can't keep up with physical labour, I won't make it to retirement if I carry on.'

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"I was at a bit of a cross roads, I went to the art school as a year off to give me some breathing space and to muck around painting some pictures. I just fell in love with it."

Cuff is now an award winning artist, awarded the Ceramic Lounge Merit Award at the Whanganui Arts Review for his piece currently on display at the Sarjeant Gallery.

"I've got a lot of public interest in it, because to look at it, it sort of defies what is meant to happen when you mix those mediums," he said.

"It's unique and it asks a lot of questions of the viewer as to how it's even standing."

The recently sold piece is one in a series of three and there have been requests for more.

Mr Cuff said that he is proud of his work.

"I used to think I would have to explain myself for 40 minutes before anyone would get my style of art," he said.

"But without me standing there telling everyone how it's done or why it's done, they just seem to understand it, which is really good."

Mr Cuff is looking forward to graduating and continuing his work.

"Ideally I'll have a decent crack at being a fulltime artist and earn a living making and selling art," he said.

"Now that I'm in the industry and a part of the art scene, I want to stay in it."