The Temptation of KT Ehrlich

Igor Peev, May 2017

I talked with KT a while back when we were considering going to Bulgaria for the International Biennale of Glass. I wanted to know more about why she chose the path of a boro artist and, in particular, why … robots? It seemed like an odd but intriguing combo to make circuit boards out of glass.

Here is what she had to say

“I like the temptation of glass. Not being able to touch a piece while you work on it. Not fully understanding it until it is in your hands. It’s rewarding to be the first person to finally touch your creation. Glass has a certain feel when it is taken out of the kiln. It is sterile. It has not yet been tainted by oil, sweat, or anything human.  

Glass is mesmerizing. Both in its liquid and solid state.   

My style started off with bright and bold colors. Then I transitioned into focusing on the robots. I wanted to make something fun that had personality. So each piece would be unique in it’s own way while still being able to play with my color choices. I also like to construct, so it was my way of being able to build larger pieces. The more I dive into it, the more I realize how much of a role electronics played in my growing up. My dad is a computer technician. I remember him soldering parts onto small circuit boards. He was always tearing apart computers and putting them together.

I studied to be an art educator in college. I think that helped give me the strong foundation for where I am with glass today. Within the last year I decided to quit my job in order to focus on glass as a full time career. My only regret is that I hadn’t done it sooner!”.

I had to read that twice and then again a couple of hours later. I continue to be impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication that radiates from artists who have devoted themselves to Boro. It is refreshing to interact and work side by side with people who are so immersed in their craft. That energy is contagious. It is a privilege…

You can find more about KT and to see more of her work check out https://www.instagram.com/torchress 

To add to your collection of robots and hearts, go here: www.torchress.bigcartel.com

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International biennale of glass Bulgaria

We are excited to announce that Kt Ehrlich, Briana Schroeder and Glass By Boots will be joining us at the International biennale of glass Bulgaria this fall. These three innovative boro artists will be teaching two classes in two locations in Bulgaria and sharing their experience and their wisdom with other aspiring young people who want to study the craft of boro. We are looking forward to this and would love it if you join us. End of September is a perfect time to visit Bulgaria if you have never been.

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Briana Schroeder made an instant decision

We asked Briana of #prariepipes  to tell us a little more about her work and how she got into it with lampworking and glass. Here is what she had to say.

The first time I melted gBriana Schroederlass, I made what felt like an instant decision. Glass was the medium I had been searching for. In the beginning, I spent all my free time ‘playing’ with glass in my garage studio. I quickly realized my love for sculptural work and focused on sculpting flora and fauna. Later in my career I began trying to mimic the intricate patterns found in nature. Creating these patterns (i.e. feathers and wood grain) allowed me to explore a different process in manipulating glass that was a little more wild. As my control of glass continues to improve I am starting to explore some 2D surface techniques, and excited to see where it takes me.

 From my very first piece color has always been a top priority. I can count on one hand the number of clear glass pieces I have made. Finding the perfect color isn’t always easy, but it is a ton of fun. I always have Momka’s Sunflower, Brown Glitter, Almond Nugget and Guacamole on hand and Scarlet pink, Stormy Weather and Purple Thunder are just spectacularly beautiful for anyone who loves color!

You can see more of Briana’s work on her Facebook page Prairie Pipes and on Instagram.

See also the Gina and Briana gallery published in March 2017.

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Gina Gets Functional

 

We caught Gina just briefly and here is the update from her on working with our colors.

‘I have been working with borosilicate glass since 2008 with a focus on functional art, mostly in the pipe industry. I concentrate heavily on making fruit and vegetable pieces in their most realistic form that have had a run-in with a knife. Momka’s pallet is unique and helps me bring my pieces to life while providing the organic look I desire in my work. Guacamole, Lemon Yellow and Violet Iris are three of my all time favorite colors to work with from the Momka’s pallet that I never go with out. I know my work would not be the same with out this palette.’

Thanks Gina, we love your work too!!! You can find out more about Gina and see more of her work here 

 

 

 

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An eyeopener at the #glassroots show in Madison, WI

(an open letter to the new generation of glassworkers we just met)
 

#glassroots

By Igor Peev and Rob Zverina

It is perhaps the best thing that can happen to any small business – a sold out table at your first trade show in 10 years. Sure, it was great not having to pack out all that glass, truck it to the airport, then lug it all the way back to Seattle, but the level of success in Madison that I am talking about is different. The best for me was seeing and meeting YOU – young people who have embraced the trade with a level of abandon that’s contagious.

momkas glass at glassroots madison WI

I confess to being skeptical at first. My family makes boro rod, the raw material of your art. Glass is just glass, I thought. But what you showed me is that lampworking is not just a livelihood, it’s a calling. In today’s robotic, automated, outsourced world, few have the guts, vision, and determination to carve their own path. It was inspiring to meet those who are not only dedicated to their craft, but savvy enough to put time into getting better at marketing, social media, basic business practice, and logistics; they’re the ones turning their passion for glass into sustainable careers. As Ruth Gordon said, “You have to have a talent for having talent.”

I wish I had your skill in making things. I challenge you to think beyond and expand beyond what’s here today. Make more and try more. There are tons more things to be experimented with and to be invented, whole categories of custom glass to be tapped.
 
For example, everyone needs a light by their bed but what you can buy at the average store is lame lame lame and all made in China. We can do better.
 
What else can be made of glass? Bob Snodgrass has the right ideas and thinks outside the box. I loved meeting him in Madison. 

glass skull glassroots momkasglass madison

I saw an example of a sconce shaped like a lion and that was great, it radiated, it was no longer a wall light, it was art light. I saw a giant elk rack on a wall made of multi colors. I see the replacement of all that dumb and dead taxidermy in the hipster bars of San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Madison. I see tiles with integrated solar panels and LEDs. I do not see neon; I am sorry, that’s so … 70’ies Vegas and it seems posh. I see the emergence of objects that can store energy and emit light and do not require ‘black light’ to be beautiful. 
 
This medium has been a new and interesting challenge for me. I am new to it. It challenges one to learn more about chemistry and physics, technique and temperatures, equipment, making deals and maintaining relationships. 

momkasglass glassroots madison 2015

For the time being, this is your industry, not yet in the grip of any massive and faceless corporation.  The industry is emerging, it is growing, perception is changing. The Internet was built 20 years ago for things like the transformation you are part of.

You are making history. Make no mistake of it.  

I encourage you to talk to each other and share. Build on each other’s successes. Talk to us, the suppliers of fundamentals in the business and tell us what you need. Tell us what you torches you want. What kilns? What colors? Who are your heroes? What do you aspire to be? Tell us what you want to invent and let us help.

It’s challenging to function in isolation. Speaking as an emigrant from the “planned economies” which failed, trust me when I say it is better to work and live in an environment which is both cooperative and competitive, like a dance contest, where successful ideas emerge organically from interplay, not just the rubberstamp of a bureaucrat or some other monopoly that drives artificial hype. Competition makes us stronger and takes us into the future. Cooperation keeps us human. Cooperative competition is where we’re not working against each other but where we all share ideas and strive to overcome stale thinking, stagnation and the ever consistent invasion of bland.

Innovate. Grind rocks and silver and gold flakes. Keep experimenting with unusual approaches and techniques.  Fail fast and fail often because that’s the best way to learn. 

Bob Snodgrass showed us a piece of basalt rock he used to grind to color glass. It was shaped as a the face of the Buddha. Paul Trautman showed us a picture of glass made out of induced lightning. He and his friends did it with a small rocket attached to a spool of copper wire, the end of it planted in a container full of sand. During a lightning storm.  
 
Be like these guys. Push the boundaries. Life is colorful. As the French say, la vie en rose.

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A brief conversation with Marylin Ure

By Igor Peev

I had a brief conversation with Marylin Ure a while back before we launched the Women in Boro showcase. This is what she had to say. 

How did you get going as an artist? 

I started out as a Woodcarver and started with soft glass two years ago after seeing some cute glass bead stitch markers, used in knitting.  Donna at Salt City Glass got me started with Boro about a year and a half ago. I started these octopus as a way to learn how the different glasses worked with each other and just can’t seem to stop making them! Living in a very landlocked, desert state I seem to love everything about the sea! Turtles, fish, seashells….there is just something about glass and water that go so well together. Who knows what will come next…

That’s great. I love what you say about the sea. I can’t imagine living away from the sea at all.  What are your favorite colors?

Green, then blue. Even stranger I am what is called a 3N in Utah, well, I call it that anyway. That means Native Non-Mormon Non-Skier…..Makes me wonder why I stay! Ah, that’s right, kids!

What is your favorite thing about working with Momka’s Glass?

Two things….the smoothness of it, even the encased cad colors are hard to mess up. and number two is the surprises! I never cease to be amazed at what subtle differences in flame chemistry or striking times and temps can do to change the glass

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Hey you all wonderful women boro workers, this is a call to action!

I have been working with my friends Heidi and Elaine on a new and much improved version of our website. The new site will focus a lot more on the art of glass than anything else. We will go live in September. I have talked to Momka Peeva and we would like to roll out a showcase of ‘Women in Boro’ for the premiere. If you are interested in showing any of your work on our site, send it to us. My daughter Joanna will take photos of it and Heidi and Elaine will choose the images that are included on the new version of www.momkasglass.com. The art will be sent back to you and we will give you proper credit and link to your site. We need to receive your work before August 20th. Two pieces per participant. Thank you for all that you do!

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Artist’s Work we love!

We love this work by Donna Imnoprimadonna Conklin!

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Purple Spirit and Melba Mélange

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Thank you for supporting us and for your inspiration and hard work in the last 10 years! We look forward to many more and to hearing from you! We want to introduce Purple Spirit and Melba Mélange. Enjoy! — in Arlington, WA.

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