Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The work behind that beautiful piece of glass - artist Clair Etzold

Glass artist Clair Etzold heats things up in her studio as she creates beautiful and functional fused glass items for sale to appreciative customers. She markets her fused glass creations, as well as glass mosaics, at The Art House Artist Cooperative, part of the Ocean Springs Art Association in the Gulf Coast town of Ocean Springs, Miss. The multi-step process she performs yields one-of-a-kind treasures of shimmering glass.

Etzold’s kiln provides the heat necessary to fuse individual pieces of glass into a single piece of art. The time and temperature determine how completely the pieces will fuse. This decision influences the texture of the finished product. Some are heated until completely smooth, while others keep a bit of the original texture of the components by undergoing a different combination of heat and time duration.

A variety of tools allow Etzold to cut the shapes she needs for her project from sheets of colored glass. By combining varied shapes and colors, she can create glass sculpture with different textures and patterns. A grid beneath the work area catches small shards of glass and makes the surface safer to work on.

A single sheet of glass can contribute its color to a number of finished pieces. Etzold began working with fused glass in 2009 and loves the variety of effects she achieves. All of the glass used in a single project must have the same COE, or coefficient of expansion, or the finished piece will have weak spots and may break apart. All of the parts must react to the kiln’s heat at the same rate for best results.

 Once scored and cut to width, a colored glass bar is ready for trimming to the appropriate length for the product that Etzold envisions. She has complete control over the size and shape of the components and can use tools such as these running pliers to fine tune the piece with diagonal as well as straight lines.

Large circular scores take place on specialized cutter with an adjustable cutting arm. By setting the desired radius, Etzold can score larger or smaller circular parts for her project.

Shaping forms stand on a shelf in her studio, ready to assist Etzold in shaping her pieces. The first fusion joins the component parts, with the possibility of a second fusing to add additional texture or detail. The final, or slumping, process gives shape to the flat fused glass.

Etzold places a flat square of fused glass into the kiln, positioned over the slumping form. As the kiln’s temperature softens the glass, the piece will take on the shape of the form and become a decorative dish.

The finished product can meet several uses. Always suitable as a straightforward art piece, the finished projects can also serve as beautiful dishes, business card holders or nearly any other small container need the purchaser may have.

Different temperature and lengths of time in the kiln result in different fusions. This open bowl serves as a prototype of for a tack-fused piece that Etzold has since reproduced in various color combinations.

Not every piece comes out of the kiln as Etzold expected. This bowl developed a bubble that changed the lines and look completely, but still offers a stunning piece of glass sculpture. As part of The Art House Artist Cooperative, Etzold’s works become available to Ocean Springs visitors and then make their way all over the nation.     


Originally published 09/30/2013 at

No comments:

Post a Comment