On the Town feature glass

Published on October 4th, 2012 | by Dr. Richard Martorano


Discovering the Experience of Fused Glass

For the last few months I have been very involved in a newfound hobby. Working with my instructor Sue Hubbard (pictured left), a nationally recognized fused glass artist, I have discovered the experience of fused glass.  Unlike stained glass that is very exact, fused glass is an interesting art form that allows you total freedom of expression.  You can be design-oriented, meticulous and specific in the design and texture or you can be like me – rather improvisatory.

When I first decided I wanted to do something in the art medium, my first choice was watercolors.  I gave a lot of thought to taking classes at the Artist’s Workshop here inNewSmyrnaBeach.  The problem with that idea was that it takes several years before you can do anything good enough that you would be willing to hang on your wall and acknowledge as your art.  I had neither the desire, patience or temperament to do that.

I am not a technique kind of guy.  Meticulous and intricate modes are not of any interest to me nor do I have the patience. I needed an art form that would allow me instant gratification without having to spend a great deal of time learning technique, comprehending theory or require any type of engineering or mechanical aptitude.

I spent some time on the Internet looking at a wealth of fused glass art.  The opportunities for design and expression are absolutely unlimited.  There are gorgeous pieces of fused glass on the web of every possible design.  The variety of style touched my magic button.  To have an opportunity to be totally at chance in my artistic expression really interested me.

A short note – as a composer some of my best music were mistakes.  Most musicians who are improvisatory are people of the moment who do not do a lot of the preplanning.

My wife and I are collectors of fused glass.  We have pieces that we have collected from all overEurope.  We have multiple pieces from Images Art Festival and from Arts on Douglas here inNewSmyrnaBeach.

We have several pieces by Marilyn Catlow in our home.  Marilyn is a nationally recognized fused glass artist in residence in South East Central Florida. Marilyn’s designs are extremely articulated, thought out, very specific in expression and truly beautiful pieces of glass art. Her designs are examples and the results of several years of training and experience.  I don’t have enough time in my life to attain that kind of competence.

I don’t have a kiln.  We use Susan’s studio as a classroom so she fires my designs.  She has several thousands of dollars worth of equipment, tools and product.  She gives me instruction on techniques for cutting the glass and preparation of my project for firing.  She looks over my shoulder and when she thinks I’m going to do something that is just not going to work, she tells me.  She doesn’t impose her style or “feel” on me.  Every now and then when she sees something I’m doing that she likes, she will make a suggestion that will enhance or improve the piece.  That’s what a good teacher does.

As you can see by the featured photos, my pieces are very colorful and flamboyant.  I called my pieces Opus as a reference to my music.  If you were to look at the 18 pieces I have done to date, you will see a similarity in color, my use of circles, squares, oblong,  rectangle and disjunctive shapes of glass.  I use multiple bright colors and a lot of the new space age dichroic glass.

Sue has developed a black squiggly glass.  She uses it in her pieces and has allowed me to share her innovation.  Squigglys are unique and offer a nice “bump” to my style.  I am beginning to have a style.  At first my pieces were over produced and very busy. I am learning and now my textures are not as thick or as ornate as when I first started.

We are running out of room for my Opuses in our home so now I am making my Christmas list of friends and family.  It’s hard to give away my creations but it’s either that or a bigger house and that is not going to happen.

It truly is a remarkable experience for me and an awful lot of fun.  I hope you too can find something that brings you pleasure and a little happiness.   Try fused glass.

About the Author

A prominent musician, producer, composer, music director, adjunct university professor and owner of R. Martorano Productions LLC and Music, Etc. Inc. who is residing in New Smyrna Beach. He has produced and directed over 30 Broadway musicals for community or Dinner theater and worked with some of the biggest names in show business. He has also produced over 30 jingles and TV commercials. Dr. Martorano has an undergraduate and Master degrees from Florida State University and Rollins College and Doctorate in Music and Broadcast Communications from California State Western University. He is a feature contributor to the New Smyrna Beach Observer and can be reached at rjaem2222@bellsouth.net or on his web page RMartoranoproductions.com

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