Glass transformed into art worthy of exhibition
That glass bead necklace you inherited from your grandmother was probably made by a method called “lampworking,” by which molten glass was shaped into objects over a small open flame. It’s believed to be the oldest method of working with glass, dating back to about 500 B.C. Though technology has improved, basic techniques used by the ancients are still practiced today.
K C Hannah is a modern lamp work artist who fashions beads in a 2000-degree flame produced by a torch in her garage. She is one of eight glass artists featured at the Auburn Old Town Gallery in April.
“Actually, ‘torchwork’ is more accurate for this medium. That’s why ‘torched’ is in the title of the show, but ‘lampworking’ is more common among those of us who do it,” she says.
At her torch, Hannah manipulates a piece of glass in the flame, spending as much as an hour to make one bead. She wraps the molten glass around a thin rod of stainless steel, which also forms the hole for the bead.
“I work the design until I’m satisfied,” she says. Then the bead goes into a kiln to anneal so the glass doesn’t fracture. Hannah says her glass pieces are strong and seldom break, even when dropped.
According to the International Society of Glass Beadmakers, of which Hannah is a member, “Glass beads have been used for adornment, trade, currency and religious ritual in cultures all over the world. Yet throughout history, the art of making glass beads has been shrouded in secrecy.” The organization fosters the rebirth of ancient traditions through sharing among its approximately 1,500 members in the United States.
“Blown, Fused, Torched & Shattered” is an exhibit in Auburn that glass lovers won’t want to miss. And, by the way, the Auburn Old Town Gallery is now the only artists’ cooperative in the region since the demise of Gallery II in Grass Valley last year. Operating continuously since 1995, it has grown from 35 to more than 60 artists today.
Know & Go
WHAT: “Blown, fused, torched and shattered” exhibit of glass artists
WHEN: April 1ÐApril 30 with reception for the artists on April 12, 6-9 p.m.
WHERE: Auburn Old Town Gallery, 218 Washington St., Auburn; hours are Sunday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
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