At Plum Bottom Gallery’s location on Plum Bottom Road, glass stands and sculptures sparkle in the sunlight among flowers and trees. This magical garden setting that’s hidden from the road continues inside the gallery, where mosaics and wall panels bring the outside in. The gallery recently held an opening reception for artists to introduce the new additions to their fused-glass collections.
“Having an afternoon where everyone involved in the process – artist and customer – can come together and converse about the pieces that speak to them is simply inspiring,” said Hannah Fusfeld of Plum Bottom Gallery.
The artists make their creations by hand-cutting each piece of glass, and the fusing process involves heat from a kiln to join the glass pieces together.
Kellie Hanson specializes in mosaics, creating art for windows and walls. In works such as “Door County Waters” and “By the Lake,” she incorporates varying shapes and sizes of glass to depict her scenes – larger pieces for a sky, for example, and smaller pieces to mimic rippling water.
“I was drawn to mosaics by a beautiful stained-glass window in my aunt’s home,” Hanson said. “I saw it and knew immediately that I had to try it and make one for myself.”
Glass leaf strands in rainbow colors and brilliant turquoise hang throughout the gardens and frame the gallery’s entrance. Laurel Grey’s idea for these popular pieces stemmed from a love of being outside in nature, but never having enough time or good weather to do so very often. So, she created a way to move nature inside – without the bugs and poisonous plants.
“I’d been making flat, painted stained-glass leaves for some time already but wanted to make more dimensional leaves for some projects,” Grey said. “I wanted each leaf to be as unique as in nature.”
After waking up one morning with an epiphany about how to make these leaves, Grey started her process of hand-painting, kiln-firing, drilling and stringing each individual leaf into a column. She sometimes places pieces of driftwood and stones found in Door County between the leaves. She also incorporates her leaves into ornament designs, tree sculptures and wall panels.
Spending some of her childhood in Japan heavily influenced Grey’s artistic style. She admired what she saw as the ability to “organize” nature with bonsai trees and raked rock gardens (karesansui), a concept clearly evident in her leaf strands. Grey fondly remembers field trips to glass factories – something that also influenced her decision to focus on glass as her art medium.
“We could watch skilled Japanese glass artists pull glowing blobs of molten glass from huge furnaces and transform them into beautiful vases, miniature animals and glass ‘float’ balls,” Grey said.
Buddhist philosophy also surrounded her in Japan.
“One of my favorite teachings is about ‘letting go of the outcome,’” she said. “With glass, I am continuously reminded to let go of the outcome; glass will often react in surprising and delightful ways.”
These leaf strands illustrate very well the versatility of fused glass: Hung in the shade or on a cloudy day, they illuminate a space with shiny color. In the sunshine, light dances beautifully with the leaves, reflecting off each one. The leaf strands painted in rainbow colors seem to have an iridescent quality – a reminder that each color of the rainbow combines to form the prism of white light from the sun.
The same interaction of glass, color and light applies to the indoors, too.
“Each piece sparkles and picks up the best of the light in every room,” Fusfeld said.
Displayed indoors, Hanson’s and Grey’s art can provide a reminder of a Door County scene or give a whimsical impression of a sunny garden.