Arts and Entertainment

Hello, my name is Susan and I’m a glass art junkie ...

Susan Davis, the spearheading force behind The Glass Art Junkies, stands with a stained glass piece which she made for her dolphin enthusiast son. - Courtesy photo
Susan Davis, the spearheading force behind The Glass Art Junkies, stands with a stained glass piece which she made for her dolphin enthusiast son.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

For anyone who is addicted to the art of glass, a laid-back Silverdale-based guild of artists can serve as confidant and support group. They call themselves the Glass Art Junkies.

The group has grown to a central cadre of about 10 members who regularly meet on the third Wednesday of the month at the Silverdale Subway restaurant meeting room. They were established early in 2007 by local hobbyist artisan Susan Davis, who had caught the bug and wanted to share her enthusiasm for the craft.

“It gets in your blood ... it’s like a glass addiction,” Davis said. “My job is severely interfering with my hobby.”

“Ah, but you’ve got to have the job to pay for the addiction,” added Hansville artist Teresa Merrill, rousing a bit of laughter around the table.

Laughter, wisecracks and laments are all commonplace at the Junkies’ monthly meetings as communion and camaraderie among artists of the same trade was the crucible of the group’s formation. They are not yet a guild looking to host events, shows or fundraisers, the Glass Art Junkies are simply hooked on enhancing their artwork.

“No bylaws, no rules, no agendas ... we just learn from each other,” Davis said.

The group hosts a bevy of experience to draw from, as some of the Junkies have been working with glass for years, in both career and hobby veins. Little old lamp maker Jan Randa, who falls in the latter category, has been working with glass for more than 30 years, she said. She even “built” her house around her glass art workspace, she added. She makes intricately patterned glass lamp shades which adorn copper bases for her own enjoyment and distribution.

Junkie Steve Brixey of Silverdale, who has used his glass hands for about 15 years, is beginning to fall into the career category following his recent retirement. Now, he spends most of his time constructing tiny houses and other architecture out of thousands of different little pieces of glass.

At the latest Junkies meeting he announced his triumph of First Place in the 3D Creative Glass division of the Puyallup fair as well as his acceptance into this year’s Christmas in the Country fair on Bainbridge.

“Oh that’s great, good for you, Steve!” the room agreed.

Sharing exciting events, new purchases and artistic triumphs are other big components of the Glass Art Junkies in addition to the elements of encouragement and enlightenment.

“You have that connection, you’re not stuck trying to learn it all out of a book,” Davis said.

Davis works with large scale stained and fused pieces, akin to stained glass window designs only in a wall hanging frame. Still she said, there’s a lot to learn, even from someone like Randa whose lamp-making trade is markedly different and on a much smaller scale.

In fact, everyone at the table each does something different, Belfair artist Ken Fashajag noted at the Junkies’ last meeting. From fused and stained works, to the 3D houses and lamps, to mosaic and dichroic work and custom jewelry, each is individual, yet they are all connected.

“There’s nothing like it when the sunshine hits the glass,” Davis noted of the end product.

There’s nothing quite like starting out, either.

The learning curve with glass art is steep. The most challenging part about it, the Junkies agree, is that the medium breaks so easy.

When one is first learning the trade, the first thing they will learn is incidentally also one of the most threatening parts of the process. First one learns to cut the glass with a process of scoring and snapping much like that which is used for sheet-rocking, only 10-times more fragile.

“If anything is gonna go wrong, that’s where it’s gonna go wrong,” Junkie Pam Cohen said.

After that, not out of the woods yet, one learns to solder the pieces together, in essence laying down a molten line of metallic glue that will bind the glass together.

It takes an extreme amount of patience and diligence the Junkies said, but once those basic skills are mastered, the sky is the limit.

The Glass Art Junkies meet every third Wednesday of the month in the meeting room of the Silverdale Subway restaurant located in the Albertson’s center off of Mickelberry Road All skill levels welcome, members come from across the county. Info: Call Susan Davis at (360) 598-4600.

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