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January 3, 2016

Western Oregon is dominated by trees. Deciduous, evergreen, towering, spreading, ancient groves shouldered by juvenile thickets, trees are ubiquitous. Their presence is made possible, in large part, by the huge amounts of water in this landscape. I lived for more than 30 years in New Mexico, where desert scrub and cacti prevail, and what qualifies as a “tree” would be laughed at here in this lush forest. I am overwhelmed by so much green, grey, and blue. It's a joy to follow a trail into the dense embrace of so many living things.

Above: Winter Woods, 2014 by Angelita...

December 28, 2015

 Above: Rhythmic Circle. Rope, Thread, Plastic Flowers, Hot Sculpted Glass, by Sayaka Suzuki, 2013. 6-foot diameter.

 

When I visited the Bullseye Resource Center Portland to hear the artist Sayaka Suzuki talk about her work on December 13,  I had a notion of what was to come: a description of her process, accompanied by dramatic images of works in progress in the studio, along with finished pieces in a gallery—the usual. What I experienced was far different, and much deeper.

 

After living most of my life in the Southwest, I decided to move to the Pacific Northwest to b...

July 25, 2015

I've been on a raven kick lately. These intelligent, engaging birds are everywhere in SE Alaska, and I most often see them close-up in parking lots around Juneau. They are particularly fond of hanging out around the grocery stores and McDonald's, taking advantage of the numerous french fries and other edible treats that end up on the ground. I did mention how smart they are, didn't I? I believe it's this high level of intelligence that has gained the corvidae (ravens, crows, etc.) their bad rap as calculating, greedy creatures that are harbingers of bad luck. We huma...

July 12, 2015

This new glass piece titled "Raven With a Berry" makes me very happy for several reasons. First, it blends some of my favorite subjects: glass and birds. Second, it features a raven, a creature that shares my environment here in Alaska. Third, it touches on an ancient Tlingit legend about how Raven stole the sun.

 

The Tlingit Indians of Southeastern Alaska have numerous stories about the origins of the world, themselves, and the roles animals play in all things spiritual. Similar to the Coyote tales told by Native American tribes in the Southwest (where I lived before...

June 25, 2015

OK, so I've decided to let a tiny bit of the cat out of the bag. Not too much, maybe just the whiskers for now. This 6" x 6" panel is made of colored frit powder on a clear glass tile. The black linework is a material of my own concoction. This is one of several "proof of concept" pieces that I'm creating in preparation for sharing this process with other glass artists. In 2016 it's my intention to begin teaching workshops in this and other new ways of working with frit powders (also known as ground glass). We're talking three-dimensional sculptures made without cast...

May 19, 2015

I'm fascinated by how much of our language refers to the world of birds, feathers, and nests--iconography that relates to freedom, flight, home, family, and the spirit. The empty nest, migrations in search of a better life, building a "nest egg", finding other birds that are "of a feather". This is all symbolic of things I'm dealing with in my life: my kids are grown and independent, and I am moving through the experience of living in a strange and beautiful land called Alaska, far from friends and the familiar landscapes of the Southwest. I wrestle with the ongoing...

January 5, 2015

Today's challenge was to make five small sketches, spending no more than 5 minutes on each. I decided to try my hand at one of the iconic images of Alaska: the raven. To be more specific, a raven holding some small red object in its beak—you see this image everywhere. It could represent a berry or salmon egg, but in Tlingit Native Alaskan mythology, Raven would be holding the sun, in a story that tells how he brought light to the world.

 

I cut five white opaque rectangles measuring 1 3/4" x 1 1/8" and set to work. I first sifted a small amount of black frit powder on...

January 4, 2015

Today I decided to go small, and create some miniature Alaskan landscape scenes. Each of these strips is 1 1/8" high and about 7 inches long. I sifted black frit powder across each, then used a small brush, a sculpting tool and an Xacto knife to carefully remove the powder to create stands of trees, mountains, water, and islands. It was a tedious exercise, but I was happy with the result.

 

Of course, when you're working with powdered glass you don't have the luxury of being able to sneeze. In fact, I wear a respirator and even then sometimes catch myself holding my br...

January 3, 2015

This is the view I see every morning when I drive to work. The island where my office is located is adjacent to the Treadwell Mine, which was once the largest, most productive gold mine in the United States. Miners pulled more than 200 million ounces of gold out of that mine, until somebody tunnelled a bit too close to the channel, and the wall collapsed, flooding the mine with seawater. I hate when that happens.

 

Anyway, there are many ruins on the island, including the old pumphouse, the strangest-looking building I've ever seen. It looks like one of those tall, ski...

January 2, 2015

This new year brings with it more than the usual amount of "newness." Glass Bird Studios moved from New Mexico to Juneau, Alaska late last year. I love it here in the Northwest, though the short days and long, dark nights made me very glad to see the winter solstice come. Later this month I will be showing my work in the Juneau Artists Gallery, and have been pushing hard to produce new work for that opportunity.

 

When I read about the 30 Frit Drawings in 30 Days Challenge on the Facebook page Fused Glass Fanatics, I was intrigued. I love working with frit, and have al...

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