I moved to Oakland in 1999 from Ontario, Canada where the gardening season is reserved for a few splendid months in the year. Once I got over my own transplant shock, I encountered a whole new world of plants that could be grown here. In addition to blowing glass, I took classes at Merritt College Horticultural school, started a part-time landscaping service and became a plant junkie; propagating cuttings and seeds to transform our terraced backyard into a virtual jungle of roses, scented geraniums, lavenders, salvias, citrus trees and succulents. I revel in our California garden where the colours and scents, hummingbirds and bees are a constant reminder of life’s mysterious force.
Coming from a cold climate, I appreciate the preciousness of the natural world, and feel an inclination to preserve those things that are fragile and delicate and full of wonder. Glass is a perfect medium for me, because the material itself speaks to those qualities.
There are many similarities between the process of gardening and glassmaking. Pruning shrubs and trees gives me a chance to discover the architecture of the plant and to make decisions about how to work with it; what to expose, what to eliminate, and how the resulting form and proportions will fit within the context of the whole garden. The process of sculpting hot glass is much the same. When inspired by something in the landscape, I first sketch to experiment with ideas. I imagine how to achieve the colour and form, look for something I want to exaggerate, plan how can I manipulate traditional glassblowing tools and techniques to achieve my vision, and envision a cold-working process that might enhance what I’ve made in the hot-shop. Then of course, there are the mechanics of assembly to consider …
So much energy is required to keep a furnace of glass molten that I feel responsible to make pieces that bring joy into the world and remind us of the rich and simple blessings that are available to us if we just take a moment to look.
A special thank you must go to my glass-blowing assistant and good friend, Patty Garrett. I can’t imagine how many times she dips into the furnace each time we work, so that I can build the fruits and flowers of my imagination.