Artists attracted to the possibilities of glass
Glass coasters by Laurie Freivogel.
Festival of the Arts
10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9
Broadway Avenue between Belmont Avenue and Roscoe Street, Chicago
Suggested $5 donation
(773) 348-8608; www.lakevieweast.com.
Updated: September 5, 2012 2:36PM
Donna Sauers and Laurie Freivogel are both passionate about the possibilities of glass.
The two women are among more than 150 artists showcasing their creations at the juried 2012 Lakeview East Festival of the Arts.
Western Springs artist Sauers creates unique jewelry using handmade glass beads — an art form that she cultivated because of a gift she received.
Sauers had started college as an art major but switched to marketing and business. She was working in marketing of collectibles when she was given a glassblowing workshop as a gift. She was instantly hooked.
“Once you’ve experienced hot glass it’s very addictive,” Sauers said.
Although she had been involved in art since high school — painting, ceramics and printmaking — Sauers was never inspired to create jewelry until she discovered glassblowing. “It was the glass that got me into making my own beads and the jewelry came after that,” Sauers said.
She began creating those beads after experiencing an ancient art form called lampworking. It involves heating rods of glass over a torch, then winding them on rods that are treated with a bead release.
Admitting that it’s an overused term, Sauers declared that she strives to create jewelry that is timeless. “I want my pieces to have life — that they’re on trend but not trendy,” she said. “The glass beads really are the forefront of my work. Then I incorporate other semiprecious gems.”
Sauers is convinced that her art background has strongly influenced the jewelry that she creates. “My work is all about color and movement and having more of an artistic bent to it,” she said. “A lot of my work has an asymmetrical element. I look at them as little mini pieces of art that is wearable.”
Freivogel, who creates stunning glass pieces in her Oak Park home studio, also launched her career because of a gift — in this case one she gave herself. It was a fused glass pendant that she purchased at an art fair in 2000.
“It’s so beautiful. I still look at it every day,” she said. “My favorite two colors — turquoise and red. It looks like a moment of molten glass captured.”
In 2004, when the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design graduate tired of being a full-time stay-at-home mom, she began experimenting with the medium of fused glass. “I bought a teeny-tiny kiln — it’s smaller than a toaster oven,” Freivogel said. She also began buying pieces of scrap glass and crafting jewelry.
Soon she had expanded her work, figuring out how to use silk-screens to transfer designs onto glass. “It allows me to do things that you couldn’t otherwise do,” Freivogel said. That’s apparent in her unique coasters, platters, bowls and other creations, including custom belt buckles.
Freivogel still uses that tiny kiln but alongside it in her studio she now has a medium sized kiln and a very large one. “It’s kind of addictive,” she joked. “If I had room, I’d get another kiln.”
Freivogel calls her studio Kiku Handmade. “My last name is a mouthful for anyone,” she explained. Also, “Kiku means chrysanthemum in Japanese and I love Japanese design, and I actually have a tattoo of a Japanese chrysanthemum.”