Carine Fram’s glass work is something I came upon while searching the Internet. It was great to see the fantastic work of a local artist who is very excited about explaining her motivations and processes which go into every piece she creates. She is a prime example of how life, such as the experiences of her childhood growing up in South Africa, affects our creativity and influences every work we create. It was such a pleasure to get the chance to learn about the labor-intensive processes she goes through to make each finished piece.
STM: Carine, welcome to Studio Tour Magazine. Thank you for taking the time for this interview. My first question, which I'm intrigued to know the answer to is, How does a retired computer Systems Analyst become an artist working with fused glass? What has been your journey?
CF: As a child growing up in South Africa, I was always encouraged to make my own things. I was very lucky to have childhood friends that had similar interest. We all played musical instruments, so we made our own music. Our mothers all owned sewing machines (although my mom did not know how to use hers) so we sewed our own clothes, sharing patterns, or making our own. South African culture uses a lot of glass beading in its wearable and decorative art so that played a large part in me and my friends making our own clay jewelry and beads. I guess the seed was laid early in my life to create things. I was lucky to receive a scholarship to study Computer Science at the University of Stellenbosch, so that is how my journey deviated from the creative to the more logistical and abstract fields of “Math and Machines”. After I emigrated to the USA in 1987, I continued to work in the IT field in the Financial Industry. Before my second child was born, I left my corporate job to focus on raising my children. I have three kids, two of them still in college, and one recently graduated and working in NYC. When they were still young, I started looking into some creative avenues that would satisfy my cravings, and found the PA Guild of Craftsmen offering a glass bead making course. That led to the rediscovery of my love of glass, and after some serious searching, I found an introductory week-long class in Glass Fusing. Life since that pivotal class with Brad Walker - one of my great glass fusing teachers from Clemmons, NC - and studying since with various other glass masters in their fields, have led me on this path where I’ve discovered the many fun and exciting ways to manipulate glass at high temperatures.
STM: What is the reason for art? What meaning does art have in your life?
CF: To me, art is an important accessory to life, whether functional or not. I see important purpose and beauty in decorative art, whether from a historical perspective or just for decoration, but I have a greater appreciation for art that also serves a functional purpose. Be it a seat made out of recycled glass, or a flight of glass stairs or a sandblasted glass wall, or just simply a glass plate with intricate design or imbedded technique, I love to see function in art.
I am now lucky to live in a great ‘art corridor’ between Philadelphia and New York, just outside of Princeton with its own slew of great museums. I have studied with great glass masters who have piqued my interest in the history of glass processes by the pioneers of fusing. I like to think that my personal creations are a summary of my life’s experiences, a kaleidoscope of cultural influences of the places I have lived and the things and creations that have left an impression on me. Color has been the guiding force in my life, whether it was the constant presence of bright Zulu beadwork on every street corner, or the vivid colors of the Indian saris worn at local food markets, or knowing what color the many types of tropical fruits in our garden should be when ripe - color has been the primary guidance in my designs of glass creations. I like to think of my glass as accessory creations to a table, a wall, a space that is otherwise simple and inconspicuous.
STM: How did the meaning of art develop in your life? Did you grow up in South Africa having an inclination toward the arts?
CF: I never had any formal art education, besides the many hours I spent with my piano teacher who was also a famous opera singer in South Africa. We did not have too many art museums in South Africa when I grew up. I studied music (composition and history, piano, clarinet and recorder) but when it came to drawing or ‘creating art’, I improvised. Since my time was focused on studying the Sciences in school, art came to me in the form of decorating the walls in the bedroom I shared with my sister and sewing my own creations to wear. She taught me to scale small black and white pictures of our favorite pop stars by covering them with a grid and enlarging it to life-size figures, then painting them in black printer’s ink to bring them to life.
True collectors’ art was always regarded as a luxury in my childhood home, but creation of art and music was encouraged as my father was a book binder and packaging designer by profession, and a very good violin player too. I lucked out in college when I had a roommate who studied fine arts. I spent many a lunch hour leaving the Computer Science building and hanging out in the Arts Faculty with her and her classmates, envying them in their messy environments.
STM: What are you intending to communicate with your art?
CF: I tend to create pieces that speak of the rich cultural influences of the Rainbow nation in my motherland of South Africa. Contemporary and primitive designs dominate my design process. Shades of blue (see my Blue Bahama bowl) also form a theme in my work as I always lived near the ocean. My Serengeti Sunrise bowl has hints of animal skins in the design and reflects on the influence of seeing protected and free-roaming wildlife on my life. So my art reflects the things I have seen in my life, and I always find myself looking at a natural scene of beauty, be it a sunset, or an approaching storm, thinking of ways how I can create that sense of color and flow in glass. For me, art imitates life in a very real way.
STM: Tell me about your creative process.
CF: Glass fusing is the art of creating a glass design of two or more layers on a flat plain by using glass sheets or powders and paints, and fusing it at high temperature ranges to melt together, then placing the fused ‘disc’ on, or over a shape to slump or drape it into the three-dimensional shape it was designed to be. A cold-working phase involving heavy machinery may follow, depending on the finish required by the design. The art of glass fusing predominantly lies in the first phase where the design consideration could include a choice of many techniques that can be used to create the base piece. I have studied with quite a few masters of their own methods to learn some of the many techniques of glass manipulation, such as Brad Walker, Marti Kremer, KeKe Cribbs, Emma Varga, Nancy Weisser, Bob Leatherbarrow and most recently Weston Lambert. The most recent class I took with Weston was to learn how to combine rock (or other materials such as wood, steel etc) and glass. My ultimate goal is to combine different materials so my glass fusing is only a part of the end creation. I am a compulsive learner, so I spend some part of each day watching a video of a technique I am trying to master, or just refreshing my knowledge on a particular technicality. I have found the Fusing community to be extremely giving and sharing, helpful and considerate. There is so much help out there on social media, in the form of blogs and boards run by extremely knowledgeable people. The glass manufacturers recently went through a rough period regarding emissions control at their factories, and the rally of support from the glass community for their efforts to comply with new stricter regulations was nothing short of amazing. It is truly a great community to be a part of and the more I learn about this wonderful art form, the more I feel it is the perfect medium for me to explore, because of its very technical nature, and the fact that the end product is almost always very colorful.
A large part of my process involves making components for my final pieces, like pattern bar creation, flow techniques, strip construction, pot-melts, crackle techniques, slurry techniques, and more. It is the components that represent the different techniques that I have mastered over the years of studying with masters. It is the coming together of these techniques, and the design decision to present a glass creation on its own, or on a metal stand or in a functional use, that creates the excitement of the design process.
STM: What is it exactly, that excites you about working with fused glass as opposed to bronze, for instance?
CF: The fact that a glass fuser has to design a piece before it goes into the heat, then close the kiln door and resign to a patient wait, then take what the kiln delivers, and cold-work that piece to the final product - that is a very exciting product pipeline that leaves a lot of room for acceptance, flexibility, change of mind and evolution of design. I am a flexible person who does not like to waste, so this is an ideal art form for me as you never have to throw away even a strip of glass…it can always be used in some form or another! I have worked with bronze casters and sculptors to design stands for my bowls, but I prefer the control I have over my design in glass. As flexible as I am, the “other side” of me is a control freak…I can cut, saw, grind, drill, crack, sift, melt or pull glass depending on the heat methods I use, and I can control those machines and processes like a painter controls his brush strokes. Since I started my glass journey as a bead maker, I have a full torch setup so I can heat glass in the flame and pull my own twisty-canes to use as details in designs. I own a sandblaster, a lap wheel, three kilns, a wet belt sander and a lap wheel. These are heavy duty machines, so just like a bronze caster that has to pour molten material, I also have to suit up and wear protective clothing and glasses to use many of my machines, only in a cold working environment. It is a very interactive environment, involving sharp glass and fast-moving objects, so focus of the mind and attention to the job is of utmost importance.
STM: So many steps go into making each of your pieces. How does it make you feel when you are in the thick of creating; actually doing the work?
CF: It is very exciting to load up the kiln with a piece knowing that you put so much thought and time into the design, trying all the way to anticipate the end product. Not too many art forms expect the artist to design in a 2D plain with the end result needing to exist in a 3D world. This is part of the excitement of creating a glass-fused object. The artist has to have a “third dimension” imagination that lurks in the background while the 2D design is being planned and constructed. Gravitation in the kiln will pull the fluid glass in ways that have to be considered in the design. Experience lends a hand in predicting how glass will flow when heated to those fluid temperatures, and the outcome is almost always a pleasant surprise unless an oversight led to an accident or too much heat exposure in the kiln, like a soft glass that flowed over the edge of a mold, or a glass that became incompatible at a certain temperature and caused a crack during the cooldown phase where the glass had to anheal to a stable molecular structure. So the moment the kiln door gets lifted is always one of great anticipation and excitement. It can go one of three ways : 1) total joy, 2) indifference, or 3)total devastating disappointment. I have learnt to turn the third outcome into ‘hope’ as I can always take a hammer to the glass (good stress reliever) and use the pieces in a pot melt, which has been some of my best sellers - the sense of depth and appearance of fluid glass in a potmelt is so vivid that I truly never see my total devastating disappointments as flops any more. It just becomes raw material for another day’s play!
STM: Carine, your work is beautiful. Your textures and the effects that you create in the glass are truly fascinating. What originally attracted me to your work was your series that was inspired by the Ndebele culture and your use of the primary colors and simple shapes. When were you exposed to the Ndebele and how did their colorful surroundings affect you?
CF: I grew up in the Natal Province (now called Kwazulu-Natal) of South Africa, which is the home to the Zulu tribe, one of 9 or more official tribes in South Africa. Glass beads make up a central part of their intricate bead work and colorful costumes worn at traditional dancing events or tribal celebrations. They would decorate their tribal wear of animal skin clothing with bright borders of strung beads, using basic shapes and forms to create repetitive patterns. Similarly, they would use basic designs to paint primary colored shapes on their homes to beautify the mud exteriors. Growing up in the large coastal city of Durban, where tourism plays a huge part of everyday life, I was used to seeing the Zulu woman selling their crafts and wares on street corners and at the beach. That was definitely the most important artistic influence in my life, and is now evident in my Ndebele bowl series.
STM: In your bowl designs, you design both the bowls and their stands. What, if any, is the connection between the bowl patterns and the iron stand shapes?
CF: I love simple, organic styles of design, both in my glass and metal stands. I do not like distraction by design-overload, therefore my stand designs are always very organic and free of too much detail and twists. After all, each stand is a work of art, but it should not distract the onlooker away from the piece it propping up to display. Simple and natural lines are what gives me greatest pleasure and distract least from the bowl.
STM: Where do you see yourself eventually going with your fused glass techniques? More specifically, how far would you like to push the limits on what you can do with these techniques?
CF: I would love to move more into large-scale productions that can live in public places or outdoor spaces. That is what attracted me to the recent course I did with Weston Lambert from Utah, to learn from him how to cast glass at scale and combine it with rock to create functional and ornamental pieces, eliminating any separation between the materials so you can use technical glues and cold-working to finish the pieces to museum quality polishes. I’ve always had a strong interest in combining glass with wood and metal beyond my current installations of merely displaying my glass bowls on metal stands. I envision wooden furniture with glass insets and walls and floors of rock or cement with slithers of beautiful cast glass that are polished to a shine and perfectly fitted as if by nature. My dreams are very colorful and outsized, so if you know of anyone that sells their spare time, I could become a customer!
STM: How have you struggled to get to where you are now? How have your struggles affected your work? What have been your greatest obstacles?
CF: I do not have any large or well-renowned studios near me where I live in Lawrenceville. So my path of learning to where I am now has been quite a solitary one. I am nevertheless very lucky to have Rainbow Glass, a large glass distributor of Bullseye and other art glass accessories about 40 minutes away from my home, so getting glass to my studio is a nice ride towards the ocean and a good time to think up ideas about what colors I am looking for, and what designs are next in the pipeline. But nevertheless, I am always envious when going to faraway teaching studios, where I realize that I do not have an immediate support network of glass fusing artists in my area, and that I cannot simply stop by such a studio and take a quick evening workshop or attend a visiting artist talk. It is very helpful to be near people in this field as the art form is very technical in many ways. When it comes to troubleshooting or seeking a solution, it helps to have a second opinion or set of ears to bounce ideas off of. Without that, there are of course some great blogs and boards out there in social media that offer some great opinions, but it still does not beat a second pair of knowledgeable eyes peeking into your kiln or helping with a tricky process, of which there are many in this art form! Being alone without an immediate support circle has had obvious advantages and disadvantages, but when all is said and done, I have probably benefitted in the sense that I cannot curl up and cry if I hit a wall…I have to forge ahead and find a solution, and often quickly. I have had to improvise, reinvent, redo, rethink and grow technically - often under pressure of lack of time - doing research on the fly, and reading through my volumes of course notes, searching for that one hint that I knew I had written down in a course in the past. I have learnt to accept all the wonderful strangers on the various Facebook groups for glass fusers as my personal and trusted friends. My teachers are also very helpful and are always ready to help from a distance via email or phone calls. I have an obsession for learning, so I have a very large base of technical papers and DVDs, e-books and online sources that are also part of my support, so I am really never very far from guidance and help at all. Most suppliers of glass products and machinery are also always very helpful and kind, so it is generally a great field to be involved in.
STM: How have you juggled your art life with your home life, having a husband and 3 kids?
CF: When the kiln is on, its like the baby is asleep…you run to get the rest of your life done. Digital controllers on kilns have been a life-saver. I have no idea how people did this work without being able to program their kilns to go through the various segments of heating, soaking, bubble squeezing, fusing and anhealing of glass, without being able to leave the room for too long and get the rest of life taken care of…so technology is my friend and when I am required to flash-cool a kiln cycle or watch a drop-bowl sink to the right depth, I can plan my kiln session so the “attention-needing” segment is during my waking hours or a (relatively) slow part of my day. I try my best that my kiln does not wreak havoc with my need for sleep. I am now an empty-nester with two kids in college and one graduated from college and in the work force. It is great to have my studio equipped so completely (a work in progress that has taken many years) so I can finally spend time in it on my own terms.
STM: You are originally from South Africa. How are the arts and art education treated there? Is it something that children are encouraged to do? Were you encouraged in that direction?
CF: Yes, I was encouraged to take music lessons, and express myself in my own creative abilities for decorating my bedroom, and sewing my own clothes. Fine arts was not really one of my big interests as a child, but I had many other ways to express myself. I had a little instant camera that I used to photograph clouds wherever I went. That was my ‘thing’…getting up before sunrise to capture the beautiful constellations as they fly over the ocean. My college roommate was a fine arts major so I had a very pleasant exposure to art through my college years. She grew up on a farm, and decided to employ some of the wives of their farm workers to embroider the most colorful of her primitive designs of birds, African animals and fish in a kaleidoscope of colorful yarns. These were also mostly Zulu woman doing the work, so I learnt a lot from their use of color to make these artful designs come to life.
STM: Considering money, fame, and notoriety, artists always have something they want. What do you want? Do you consider yourself to be succeeding in getting this and why?
CF: I’m not sure that artists always have what they want. Some may use their art to express frustration or opinion, which may not always be a happy state, given current affairs in the world around us. What I strive for is to produce unique pieces of functional art that leaves the onlooker puzzled as to how it was made. I have often seen people look at my work, and when I finally introduce myself, they immediately want to know more about the process. That is when I know I have succeeded with that piece.
STM: What was your biggest setback or failure? Where did it take you?
CF: I had made a very large and complicated bowl, my Blue Bahama flow bowl. It took me about two weeks to make all the various components, and to saw up the pieces for the final layout of the bowl’s design. Many hours of work had been put into the preparation. I finally fused the bowl to great success. I performed many hours of cold work on it to smoothe out the rough edges of the thick disc. I slumped it with hours of anhealing (the process of having the glass sit at a certain temperature at which the molecules line up in a stable structure so no thermal shock cracks occur). It was very cold outside with a frozen walk path to my studio. I had to take the bowl out of the cooled kiln, wash it, pack it in a box, and take it to a gallery where it was to be entered into an annual exhibition that has nationwide appeal. Everything went according to plan. The last hurdle was making it safely to the garage over the frozen walk path, and lay the more than 20-pound bowl safely down onto the back seat of my car. I opened the door of my studio, lifted the perfect bowl up, and as I excited the door, I heard the type of ‘click’ sound that only glass fusers know of…it is a subtle sound like a soft ping but to the trained ear, you know exactly what it is. It is not something you dropped, or stumbled into, or kicked out of the way. It is only one thing – that sound is the sound glass makes when it experiences a stress fracture due to lack of anhealing or, as I would find out much later in my case, incompatibility of glass. A crack due to one of many reasons. The journey that started with turning around and putting the bowl back on the table in my studio, to the point where I am now, where I fully understand how easy it is to introduce incompatibility of glasses into your work - even if you use glass from the same manufacturer with the same COE (coefficiency of expansion, an indicator of glass compatibility, and an essential aspect of making stress/crack-free glass creations) – that journey has been an important one to take as it involved the culmination of many experts giving me advice and helping me track down the culprit piece of glass, that turned my proud moment of “completion” into the long search for an answer. I am better off today because of that eerie-sounding crack, and the Blue Bahama bowl was remade with the same amount of care, attention and passion, and is more beautiful in its glory and solid state than I could ever have hoped for.
STM: What, if any, has been the effect of you being a woman artist in an art world where men seem to get more attention?
CF: I have noticed there is a disproportionate number of woman in the classes I take, so the trend may be changing. However, it seems from the books I read that many of the major ‘inventors’ of new techniques and tools are men. It is an interesting phenomena that I cannot explain. I am very comfortable using all the heavy equipment I have in my studio. I have replaced countless relay switches in my kiln, removed and reloaded heavy sandblasting medium in my sandblaster, replaced the tension arm in my wet belt sander, and also replaced the capacitor on the motor of my sander when it got filled with water. I have had to saw through solid rock with a tile saw, covering myself in protective gear, face masks, and ear-protection (and then rock dust). It sounds like a man’s world, but that does not worry me. I have many friends that welcome the fact that I can take a piece from beginning to end and produce something delicate, shiny and functional. I am not deterred by the fact that the famous names are mostly of men. It pleases me that I have learned to use and maintain most of my own machinery.
STM: What’s working well for you in your artistic endeavors? What things have you found don’t work so well?
CF: Glass fusing is not that common. I find people are very interested in the process. Also since every piece is essentially unique and custom-made, one-of-a-kind pieces that are quite affordable and attractive, I know that it is near impossible for anyone to copy my work. I do like that aspect of my work very much. I do not feel like I would do well producing for a catalog or store where my work has to be represented in many different stores of a nation-wide store chain. Production will remove the passion from my work, and I do not see myself going down that path. I do make Buddha wax candles for my one-of-a-kind candle plates, but that is a simple wax pouring and finishing process I indulge in when I need a mindless repetitive process for a day or two. Making a batch of Buddha Peace candles makes me appreciate my glass design process again, and allows me to sell candle and glass stand sets as ready-to-give gift sets, a very popular item year-round.
STM: To what other activities have your creative abilities taken you?
CF: I volunteer at HomeFront’s homeless shelter where we created a sewing center (SewingSpace) about three years ago. We were lucky to receive donations of sewing machines, fabrics and everything needed to design and create sewed products. We teach our clients to safely use their machines, and sew functional items such as bags and pillows which we sell at shows to create an income stream for our clients. My sewing abilities that I developed as a young girl has helped me to assist in this effort at HomeFront. I also participate in the annual pop-up art show for Homefront in Princeton, called ArtJam. All participating artists donate half their sales back to the program to fund the wonderful programs HomeFront offers to end homelessness in our county.
STM: Looking back on everything you’ve done, is there anything you’re most proud of?
CF: I am pleased with the fact that I found my first glass fusing teacher on my own, through thorough research. I am proud of the body of knowledge I have gathered and mastered since that first fusing class. I am proud of the fact that I have learnt to master all my equipment on my own - from the use of my programmable kiln to my sandblaster, wet belt sander, wet tile saw and lap wheel, as well as the maintenance and upkeep of these equipment pieces. I feel that every piece of equipment is a work horse that offers enormous added value to my creations, depending on how well I have mastered the machines. I am pleased to say that I seem to have done a good job in doing that. I have also had great experiences of support from the manufacturers I have had to deal with, all of them in the USA.
STM: Many people, sometimes even artists themselves have the view that the starving artist’s image is true. Do you find that to be so? What bearing does that view have on your efforts in an artistic career?
CF: I am very lucky to be in the position I’m in. Just after emigrating to this country, I applied to do an MBA. My husband decided to keep me company while preparing for the GMAT and writing all the application essays. English is not my first language and all my studies had been done in Afrikaans up to that stage of my life. I was having a tough time at it. Long story short, he got into one of the top MBA programs in the country, and I did not, so I decided to continue working in the Financial IT industry while helping put him through his full-time MBA. After having my 3 kids, it was payback time and he now supports me wholeheartedly in my pursuance of my artistic career. I am sympathetic with the “starving artist” reality, but in all honesty, I had to work in an industry that was not my first love either. I was dreaming of having more creativity in my daily endeavors rather than just designing and installing large computer systems. I am lucky that I am finally in that position where I can create at will to supply the Red Tulip Gallery, my co-op gallery in New Hope, with the colorful, one-of-a-kind creations that I “cook up” in my studio.
STM: On occasion, people who are not artists may ask questions which artists sometimes feel are not appropriate, like “Do you make a living from your art? How much?” or questions not easily answered, like “How long did that take you to make”. How do you feel about those types of questions? How do you answer them?
CF: I love questions about my art process. It gives me an opportunity to explain how complex and time-consuming a piece of work is, and how many levels of work and machinery are involved to get to the finished product. It also often segues into a discussion about pricing and what goes into the consideration of what a piece should cost. That makes for a more pleasant conversation as the person is now more informed and understanding of the complexity of my work. But I once heard a woman ask an artists at a show: “Is this a hobby or are you a serious artist?”. I privately took immediate offense on her behalf. Being an artist is in my opinion a very humbling and risky experience. You are basically putting yourself and your opinion of art out there for people to accept or reject. Some will like it and openly complement and embrace your creation while others will walk away from it, indifferent or unimpressed. You are at the constant mercy of acceptance and good feedback of your work. That is the only part of being an artist that does not come naturally to me. I hate being judged or not being accepted, as probably most artists do. The “do you make a living” question is also kind-of offensive as it is another way of asking “are you successful ?”. In no other profession are people asked “are you a successful doctor or teacher or lawyer”. That would be inappropriate and condescending, and not regarded as acceptable code of conduct. One of my favorite musicians, Idan Raichel, says : “On our own individual paths, we are all looking for the bread, the water, the wind, and a dignified life”. That has become my guiding mantra for my life, whether I deal with a homeless person, an old friend, an ex-colleague from my ‘previous’ IT life, another professional like a doctor or a lawyer, or anybody that has crossed my path. When I meet another artist, the last thing that comes to mind is whether they are successful as an artist, or can make a living off their art. It is more a quest of finding out what led them to be willing to express themselves in their art form to the big world out there, and what allows them to perform their art in an uninhibited and free form so they can create without stress or constraints. I often find that art IS the outlet for stress, and it allows for an otherwise complicated, misguided or troublesome path to be corrected due to the level of expression it offers. I have seen the benefits of Art Therapy first hand in the ArtSpace program at HomeFront, where our homeless clients benefit tremendously from art and sewing on their way to a self-sufficient life. It is too valuable and powerful as a hobby or profession to be dismissed in simple terms as “making it or not”. If someone has to ask me: “Are you making it as an artist?”, I have my response ready for them: “When last did you make something? You should try it…”.
STM: What do you want people to know about artists?
CF: The artists I know are very creative and intelligent, yet humble and helpful people. High quality of work and high standards guide their processes. I find my artist friends to be very balanced in life in general, and often technically perfectionistic. They are also well-read with successful past or present professional careers. I always have the most interesting conversations with my co-op artist friends when working together in our New Hope gallery and it pleases me to no end to find that they all have similar viewpoints on current affairs to me. Artists in general are interested, and concerned, in life around them. For the typical artist, the little snippets of information that bombards one’s senses on a minute-by-minute basis become the material for a next inspiration, helping the blank canvas develop. Artists are constant observers of life as it passes, and gather their observations, often subconsciously, until it culminates into the next creation. In my opinion, it is a very aware, prolific and thoughtful mind that can go into the typical isolation of an art studio for a period of time, then emerge with a unique creation that has never been seen before, and is accepted by the world as art. To “create”, rather than “produce”, is my personal goal as an artist in my studio, and the single driving force that makes me want to do it over and over again.
STM: Who is Carine Fram? What is one thing you want people to know about you?
CF: I am inquisitive, flexible and easy-going. I like to be in nature and look for patterns and scenic displays that inspire my color and design choices. I like to learn new, better and easier ways to do old things, and master new processes. I like to solve problems and figure out processes of how to make intricate components. I love the fact that these fragile pieces of glass objects are subjected to high temperatures and really heavy-duty glass machinery, yet it survives the torment of the cold-working process. I like the body of knowledge I am developing in this field. It is a really technical field of art. You need to know so many things on so many levels, also the characteristics of the glass you are working with - how it behaves and where on the temperature scale it does certain things. You need to know how heat and air can influence what you do in an environment (the kiln) where you cannot always be present to intervene, and are at the mercy of the science of heat and contractions/expansion, and gravitation. You need a pretty flexible mindset to be happy in this environment. I think I am a good fit for this work, and that is why I am so happy in my studio.
STM: Can you tell us what projects you’re working on now?
CF: I am developing a new line of products that are even more custom than the current offerings of my studio. I have mastered about three different techniques that allow for photo transfer onto glass. I am working on a product line where customers can, through our www.redtulipcrafts.com website, upload a picture of a favorite pet, person or place to have their photo transferred onto glass. I use methods of photo transfer paper, sandblasting with photo-sensitive film and silk-screening onto glass. These glass pictures can then get slumped into functional pieces or simply left flat for mounting on a wall or display on a picture stand. I also have a technique where I build a layered story with layers of photos on glass that are fused together as a block. Each layer contains a different photo, so looking through about 5-6 layers of clear glass, every layer containing a different photo, you can tell a pretty compelling story of a moment in time or a generation of events. Glass is a pretty permanent medium, so with some care, your memories can live a lifetime and more!
STM: Where can people find you and your work?
CF: I am a member of the Red Tulip Gallery at 19C West Bridge Street in New Hope, PA. We also have a website with an online shop at www.redtulipcrafts.com. I can also be reached on my own website at www.GlowingGlassStudio.com .
STM: Carine, this has been a real pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing with us about you and your work.
CF: It was my pleasure too, thanks Thom!
"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life".