Fused-glass intensive is about camaraderie as much as art making
Like little pieces of colored glass, artists near and far will come together this month at Tryon Arts & Crafts School to bond. They’ll also learn about a revived ancient art form at the second annual FuseFest, a weekend gathering dedicated to advancing the art of fused glass.
In its most elementary form, fused-glass art is made by creatively arranging pieces of glass and then heating them in a high-temperature kiln so they permanently meld together. In its more advanced manifestations, the creations can be flat, three dimensional, abstract, geometric, functional (such as bowls or jewelry), or whatever the artist can conceive.
“Like all art mediums, fused-glass practices range from basic techniques to cross-disciplinary works and wild experimentation,” says Will Barclift, the school’s executive director. “This is the fun of FuseFest.” The weekend-long event unites three leading artists from across the country: “One medium, three distinct voices.”
This year it’s Scandia Wood-Blackwell of Washington State, Paula McCoy of Texas, and Lucas Krenzin of Monroe, NC, each bringing a different perspective to the symposium that will include demos, round tables, a dinner, and nine workshops.
“It’s as much a fun, social experience as it is an educational art-making experience,” says Barclift. “At FuseFest you meet a lot of people from diverse backgrounds and absorb a lot of information over the course of an intensive weekend celebration of glass art.”
Krenzin will teach his signature “crackle technique” and how to create texture with metal inclusions and frit (other chemical materials). His fused-glass works are in high demand and are highly creative, spanning $300 tabletop sculptures to The Birth of Surtsey, a set of three wavy glass panels (each measuring 48 x 14 inches) mounted on stainless steel and valued at $8,500.
“People have described my work as textured, expressive, unique, painterly, doesn’t look like glass, moving, and evocative,” Krenzin lists. “I would describe [it] as imperfectly perfect. I have a healthy disregard for the rules and how things are supposed to be done. My work demonstrates this … I do not clean up my edges and a lot of other things that professional artists are supposed to do.
“Most of my work involves some form of painting with glass, and I use anything from a paint brush to a palette knife to liquid pours to apply the pigments.”
Krenzin began his career in fused glass in 2010, and by 2011 he was teaching and selling his work as fast as he could make it. But despite the demand, he refuses to be a full-time fused-glass artist, which gives him time to pursue his other creative passions, including music, watercolor, and acrylics.
He says he wants his body of work to “speak to the whole human experience — the beauty, the ugly, tragedy, triumph, sadness, joy, loneliness, pain, ecstasy, healing, renewal, and everything in between.”
Meanwhile, at FuseFest, he hopes to “empower other glass artists with some new techniques, and just have fun in the magic that happens when creative people get together.”
“Firing Up the Foothills,” the FuseFest Fused-Glass Symposium at Tryon Arts & Crafts School (373 Harmon Field Road, Tryon), runs Friday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 20. The weekend package includes a Friday social, workshops, demonstrations, panels, and lunches. (Dinner at Caro-Mi on Saturday is an additional $26). For more information, see tryonartsandcrafts.org/fusefest-2022.