Artist of the month Rhoda Powers

This months Artist of the month is a self taught glass artist. She creates masterpieces in colored glass. We met at the wind art show.
Yes, I remember, I was coveting your Carharts. Would you allow me to add an adjective? “COLD WIND ART SHOW”

Enjoy the interview and please visit her website for more information and to find out how you can see her art in person.

1. How long have you been working with glass?
I have been working with glass for about 6 years although the first year I spent learning the process and it took me over a year to get to a point where I felt my work was ready for the public. As a self taught artist I am still learning about glass, it’s properties, strengths & weaknesses.  I continue to look for ways to set my work apart from other glass artists as the medium has been around for hundreds of years.  The public’s fascination and appreciation of art glass has withstood the test of time.
2. Are you drawn to glass because of the way the light reacts to it?
Yes, that is exactly it! The interplay of light, transmitted refracted and reflected.  With the vast array of glasses available today we can create work that looks one way during the day and the same piece can have a completely different look at night.  The true challenge is to create a piece in which you can’t decide which look you love more.
3. Can you tell us a little about the difference between slumping and fusion?
Fusion or fusing glass is the process in which two or more layers of compatible glass components are placed in a kiln and fired to a temperature at which these layers or components fuse to become one. You might see this medium described in these additional ways. Kiln-formed glass, kiln glass…… Slumping is typically a secondary process to give the previously fused glass a shape, such as a bowl, or platter or wall sconce.  Slumping is accomplished at a lower temperature in the kiln than fusing to give the glass a specific form.
4. Are your projects usually slumped,fused or both?
All my projects begin as fused work and then to create what I consider more functional items for serving or installing in one’s home in the form of lighting etc.,then I will slump the work in a secondary firing to give the work it’s function.

5. Can you tell us about the glass you use?
I use exclusively Bullseye glasses.  They have been the most reliable as to compatibility as well as color choice and innovation in manufacturing.  I do use some dichroic glasses in my work but I feel these are often over used so I try use them with considerable discretion.
6. Can you tell us about how the fused glass is attached to the shower and transom in your gallery.
The shower installation was accomplished with U-channel at the base as well and the top of the accent piece is captured in the header.  It was constructed with two separate pieces of glass created to fit together one atop the other and installed like any short return wall in a frameless shower.  Sealed with clear silicone as with a traditional shower install.
The transom piece above the client’s sink replaced the all too familiar piece of wavy wood that typically bridges kitchen cabinets.  The fact that these areas are almost always lit, either by flood or florescent fixture and /or sits above a window makes it an ideal areas for an art glass installation.  Again U channel was used to install this in exactly the same location from which we removed the wood detail.  I have an artist friend with whom I collaborate from time to time that hand forges metals, he has the ability to create beautiful ways to install our work into homes flawlessly.
7. How do you choose the colors for your glass?
Bullseye glass is manufactured in a vast array of colors.  If an artist wants a different shade, then often layering of these glasses can give you the colors you want. This approach is considerably less predictable however, than say if your were mixing paint on a palette for a painting.  Sometimes there are some surprises as the chemistry of one glass can react to that of another giving you a completely different result than you had expected.
8. I should ask if you are a glass blower.
No, I’m sorry to say I have never blown glass.  I’m fascinated by it and totally respect the approach.  I chose to fuse glass because I suspect there would be a compromise of one’s lungs no matter how careful you were in the process of blowing glass over an extended period of time.  I wanted to improve the chances of being able to breathe freely into old age.
The colors look like they are totally mixed. Or do you get that effect from slumping.
The Bullseye glasses are in fact fully manufactured with color.  As mentioned before we can certainly create smaller amounts of different colors using Bullseye glasses.  One thing I might point out that is absolutely vital to the fusing process with regard to glass is that COE or coefficient of expansion must be the same between the glasses that you are using.  Bullseye exclusively manufactures COE 90.  If you don’t know your COE or your source glass, you risk fracture, either immediate or down the road so to speak due to incompatibility.
9. Can you tell us about your pendants?
There was considerable thought given to creating pendants.  At first, I felt there were so many people creating them, that is was not anything I had an interest in.  Not until I created a few for friends as gifts did I realize that mine didn’t look like any other artist’s work and people seemed to want them.  The construction is quite graphic and almost architectural.  I don’t do many fully fused pendants, and again, I don’t use much dichroic glass in my pendants either.  The pendants and my cuff links provide a price point at which they are nearly accessible to anyone.  It’s my philosophy that if someone makes the choice to buy original art, I want to do my best to give them something original and affordable.  I want people to think twice about spending  $50 on a product manufactured overseas of dubious metals, components and methods and spend that same $50 with a local artist.
10. Where does your inspiration come from?
At the risk of sounding cliche, my inspiration from life itself. Light, color, texture are facets to which I try to give very specific attention.
I will tell you as a musician, that I find music nearly as inspirational as the other components you find in my work. Art and music are my passions, they go together for me.

Thanks to Rhoda and click here to see her gallery.

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