Meet Your Neighbor: Fused Glass Ladies
Sheri Trusty7:58 a.m. EST February 22, 2015
(Photo: By Sheri Trusty)
A passion for fused glass art pulled three local women into a close friendship. They have taken classes together, hosted shows together, traveled to art schools together, and this spring they will sell their work together at the Tiffin Art Guild.
Jill Groves, Fran Jackson and Elaine Bast each have their own firing kilns for working with fused glass, and they each place their own unique twist on the art.
Groves first began in the art about 20 years ago with stained glass and eventually moved on to mosaics and then fused glass. She retired as postmaster in Port Clinton about six years ago, and when she purchased a house in Fremont, she incorporated her art into her new home.
"I liked the look of mosaics, so when we bought a house in Fremont that had a lot of wall space, I did some installation in my house," Groves said. "Some of the glass is attached right into the wall."
After she retired, she wanted something more to do, so she took classes on fused glass in Lansing, Michigan.
"I loved the process of the fusing of the layers of the glass," she said. "I bought a kiln and have been doing fused glass for about five years."
Groves teaches fused glass classes at Terra Community College, Tiffin Art Guild, Art Junction in New Haven and Allen Eiry Senior Center in Tiffin. Her upcoming fused glass classes at Terra include a plate class March 30 and a jewelry class April 27.
Groves also creates upcycled bottle art by melting bottles and turning them into unique bowls, cheese plates and wind chimes.
"I melt them in a kiln, because it has to get up to 1400 degrees. I use current bottles — liquor bottles and beer bottles — and I go to estate sales and garage sales to look for old bottles, especially ones with raised lettering and paint," she said. "The bottles are a lot of fun and not as time-consuming as fused glass. It's just a fun thing I do, to support my real love, which is fused glass."
Groves said she met Jackson and Bast at a fused glass class at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Each lady puts her own unique twist on the craft. (Photo: By Sheri Trusty)
"We became friends, we shared rides, and we even spent a week together at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg (Tennessee) doing fused glass," she said.
It was at the Toledo Museum of Art that Jackson first learned the art of fused glass.
"They used to have weekend classes, and I'd go. I took a bead-making class, and that got me interested," she said. "Then I read in their catalog that they were offering a class on fused glass. I knew about it, I had read about it, and I said I have to take this class."
When her niece moved to the area — bringing with her a kiln — Jackson became even more interested in the craft. But she found she couldn't do as much glass as she wanted traveling between her Clyde home and her niece's Huron home, so she bought her own kiln.
Today, she makes plates, platters, bowls, coasters, jewelry and sculptures. She sells her work locally at Hair Plus in Clyde, the Tiffin Art Guild and Gabby Road Studio in Norwalk. Jackson was a recent featured host of a Clyde Library "Getting Started in Fused Glass" program. Many of her pieces are on display at the library.
Bast, who is the pastor of Fremont United Church of Christ, first learned the art of fused glass as a way to push out the distractions of the world.
"When I started out, it was a spiritual discipline, to help me focus on my prayer life," she said. "Way back in the old days, the desert fathers used to braid rope to help them focus on prayer. Activities of repetition help you pray, or do some kind of contemplative thought process, while you work."
Eventually, fused glass became a passion. Bast creates plates, platters, bowls, and display art for fun and profit now, but she still sometimes uses the craft to quiet her soul.
"That's what it started out as, and it's other things, too, now," she said. "But it's still a way to get in a different zone, to focus and get away from some of the everyday things."
Fused glass by Groves, Jackson and Bast can be purchased at a May art show at Tiffin Art Guild or by contacting them. Groves can be reached through her website gypsysrainbow.com or at 419-902-7966. Jackson can be reached at 419-547-9644, and Bast can be reached at 440-823-1222.