I started my career as a Drafter, a person who draws blueprints. From there I learned to use computer software to create my drawings. Then I learned to build computers. Next, I started to make websites because I liked the challenges they presented and the colors. Oh, how I love color!
In all aspects of my professional life, I work with my hands and my mind. I love to build things. I love to work out a problem and find a solution. I am a maker. Creativity, however, comes harder. For a while, I just dabbled in art. I took drawing classes, craft classes, and made a small stained-glass project here and there. Then tried something that changed my life forever. I fused glass.
“What is fusing glass?”, you might ask. Fusing glass is making glass bend and melt and do all the things I never thought mere mortals should be able to do with glass. Fusing glass is baking glass at 1450 degrees and hoping the kiln gods leave you with something wonderful.
Fusing glass became an obsession with me. I wanted to learn all that I could about melting glass. I wanted to understand it, create with it, control it. In my search for knowledge about this fascinating medium, I became an admitted “glass groupie” and to support my habit, I engaged in the followed illicit activities:
Lurking online in glass related Facebook groups
Tracking down resources for tutorials, books, DVDs, and webinars
Volunteering in the various local studios, exchanging work for knowledge
Immersing myself in the company of other glass artists by reviving and presiding over the Suncoast Glass Guild in Sarasota, Florida for 3 years
Giving demos, teaching classes, and even learning to repair kilns
Getting a job with a local studio - White's Stained Glass Studio - and being a part of a team that creates gorgeous Church Windows that would knock your socks off
Becoming the President of the local Flamework club – The Florida Glass Dragons – and helping that organization grow outside of the state and outside of the USA
Wait. Flameworking – What is that? Let’s pause here and I will tell you. Flameworking (more commonly called lampworking – because it used to be done with the fire from oil lamps) – is so much fun! I take a pencil-thick rod of glass, slowly make it dance at the end of a torch flame, and then I melt it into a gather of glass that I control. Next, and this is where things get lots of fun, I play with it! YES, that is right! I play with glass and fire! I melt the glass, I wind it, I paint with it, I stretch it, twist it, turn it, whatever I want. And yes, it really is as much fun as it sounds! No, that is not entirely true; it is a tad more fun than that sounds, but just a tad.
Now, back to my story – are you still with me? These glass artists that I have been exposed to, these wonderful talents who have become my friends, and my companions and my cohorts, have shared their knowledge. They showed me things. I have tried things. I have even created things. Somewhere in my journey, I have transitioned from “glass groupie” to Glass Artist. My illicit activities have become a skillset. Like other artists, I have discovered that one must earn a wage somehow to support one’s passion. For me that passion is, of course, to melt more glass, or teach, or sometimes to even build websites.
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