The compelling landscapes of home in Idaho inspire most of my work. Creating each piece—exploring and expanding my capabilities—has been guided by my education and practice through instruction and experimentation. Chris Gray, a Tulane graduate, taught me the fundamentals of blowing glass and how to kiln cast. Professor Gene Koss challenged me to find the possibilities of kiln cast glass. He described it to me as “dead glass.” He is right.
For example, when I created kiln cast models of my hands, they looked dead. Using hot glass to mix textures and distort details, I found that I could bring life back into the hands. As the hands revived, they also revealed a sense of loss, such as sacrifice and hard work.
In my stretched pieces, I incorporated techniques from the mixed casting process to evoke my memories of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and the Big Wood River that flows down through them. One day when I was hiking, I found a sheep spine. Its vertebrae reminded me of those rugged mountains. Its textured shape, at once both irregular and measured, inspired the spinal sand casted forms the hot glass was pulled from. Similarly, the coursing river rapids motivated the curved bases and the flow of color in the other stretched forms.
An individual never creates a large glass sculpture alone. A team creates each object. The glass artist’s quality of sculpture is limited by the group’s ability to work together under the pressures of time, heat and fire. The group dynamic created in the studio is my favorite part of making glass sculpture. I hardly even notice the heat burns, dehydration and sweat rashes when I am in the flow of creating molten glass works with my friends.