I entered the art world at a young age with a passion for drawing. Being raised on the shoreline of Connecticut provided ample opportunities to study with artists, whose styles ranged from traditional realism to abstraction. They became my role models and by the time I headed off to study art at Southern Connecticut State University, I had acquired a good foundation in the fine arts.
Throughout the early years I also developed a passion for horses. My family owned a small farm and to have a horse meant the world to me. I had to learn the value of a dollar and earn the upkeep. Faced with that reality, I found it only natural to teach art to kids younger than myself, give riding lessons too, and work at the local art supply store.
After graduation from college, I taught elementary art, K-6, for two years in Killingworth, Connecticut. The program was a huge success, but it was my ambition to be a painter, a professional artist. I spent the next five years at the easel.
Simultaneously, during that time, Tiffany windows became antiques, and the stained glass industry in America began to experience a renewed interest. I saw evidence of glass items being displayed at some of the juried outdoor art shows where I was exhibiting my canvases. I met Millicent McKee of Thendara Studio in Oxford, Connecticut. She introduced me to glass and my life took a turn. I progressively spent more time at the glass bench and less time at the easel. The year was now 1977.
Millicent traveled to the trade shows and commented that Bullseye Glass Company, a new manufacturer in Portland, Oregon who was producing beautiful hand cast art glass for the stained glass industry, was also talking of renewing ancient glass processes that involved fusing glass in a kiln. Millicent was a china painter and I had been involved with firing clay and had a small kiln for wax burnouts for lost wax jewelry processes. There was one big problem, though. We didn’t understand how crucial compatibility and annealing as, thus most attempts were disastrous. I continued to work with glass and had more luck painting and firing glass.
Within a few years I moved south to live in the Ocala National Forest in Florida and met a person with a studio that was bringing glass artists to study with. I requested someone to teach fusing, and in 1982, Tim O’Neill came from Portland, Oregon to give that first infamous workshop in the Southeast.
The kilnformed glass movement had begun. I acquired the 28th kiln sold through Bullseye, especially designed with elements in the ceiling for firing glass. I am very grateful to Boyce Lunstrom, one of the original partners of Bullseye Glass, for initiating the rediscovery of the early glass forming techniques, and to Bullseye Glass for offering a line of “tested compatible” glass, too. Boyce eventually opened Camp Colton in Oregon to those interested in pursuing these techniques and I had several great sessions there along with others from all over.
The movement has spread worldwide and I believe glass has become the major impact in the history of art in this century. I have been working with glass for the past twenty years and have enjoyed the journey, pioneering with the leaders of the kilnformed glass movement. And I also enjoy teaching these processes at various workshops around the country.
My work is a reflection of my life. I use the horse as a metaphor for what I am feeling. There is a spiritual contact between the horse and the human condition that is older than the discovery of glass, a very powerful connection and emotion throughout history.