Julie Erlon

Artist Statement

As a child growing up in Minnesota, I loved to go into the fields to search for agates, study the wildflowers, and draw the pristine landscapes.  I had a real affinity for the beauty found in the science of nature.  I had even threatened to become a geologist or a biologist for a good portion of my youth; but when it came time for college, I had decided that the Art Institute in Minneapolis was where I would find true fulfillment.  My parents, having firm roots in the sciences, were not as enthused.  Though it seemed we'd reached an impasse, my mother's persistence and creativity eventually led to a compromise that would introduce me to the medium called glass.  She was working at 3M and happened to know of a glassblower in their Research & Development area.  This was a field I hadn't even known existed, but I immediately found it intriguing.  So away I went, at the age of 17, to New Jersey and the only two-year program in Scientific Glassblowing available in the country at the time.

When I first struck the torch and began manipulating the glass, I realized I had discovered the perfect balance of art and science.  Instructor Joseph Luisi, a 40 year veteran of the trade, made it look almost effortless.  I, along with 20 other students, struggled to make each seal (the joining of two separate pieces of glass) merely functional, let alone "beautiful", as Luisi emphasized.  It is this challenge, to maintain concentricity, and to make a seal that Luisi would be proud of, that I still demand to meet in each lamp-worked piece I make.

Initially, I landed a job in a small family-owned shop in Ohio, making production pieces.  From there I took a job with IBM, making Semiconductor Quartzware for their Wafer Fab in Manassas, VA.  But after two years, the division I was in shut down, and my career took a sharp detour.  I was relocated and retrained as a chemical technician.  Though I was no longer blowing glass for a living, I found great beauty in the coloration of the oxide films I polish (essentially glass transmitting refracted light).  I was also introduced to "Photolithography", a technique I like to employ on some of my current glass works.

1991 found me in Austin, Texas, still with IBM, but retrained yet again, as a computer technician.  At some point I realized that I had strayed too far from my original passion, and I became determined to return to glass.  Finally, in 1997, I left the corporate world to pursue the craft of artistic glass full time.  And as I now explore this field, honing my scientific skills and experimenting with new techniques, I often turn to nature, and to my childhood expeditions through the Northern woods of Minnesota, for inspiration.  My glass has become a quest to capture the essence of that which is native and delicate, to balance technical precision with personal interpretation and imagination.