“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”—Henry David Thoreau
Working with glass teaches you the importance of living in the moment. It is a fickle and dangerous medium, and often does what it pleases. There is a constant tug-of-war between the artist and the glass, with gravity providing an assist to the fluid object.
The glass artists at the Celebration of Fine Art have learned to go with the flow –– or perhaps flexibility is in their nature. Mark Lewanski, Seth Fairweather, and Troy Moody shared their non-linear paths to the world of glass art.
Both Mark and Seth had other career paths mapped out for themselves. Mark started out in engineering, graduating with a degree in material science and engineering before going on to work in the industry for a couple of years. But it didn’t take long for him to realize he wasn’t fulfilled by the work and lifestyle. Seth was pre-med with no interest in art until a program requirement forced him into an art class. He chose glass blowing and the rest is history.
Fortunately, both are still able to incorporate some of the skills from their previous lives into their artwork.
“I never was formally trained in art but went through some rigorous training in the technical world, and I came out with a very unique skillset,” Mark said.
One look at his intricate woven glass structures and it’s easy to see where his engineering skills come into play.
Seth’s interest in anatomy also comes through in his cast glass work. In one of his cast glass series, he combines his appreciation for the human form with his enthusiasm for the process of faceting gemstones to create a sparkle.
“[Faceting creates] an angle where light will bounce around in the diamond…reflecting light is what a mirror is,” he said. “So, I thought about how to get that in glass.”
By forming silicone molds of human faces, filling them with sand, and casting part of them in glass, he forms reflective prisms where one segment of a face becomes whole if you find the right angle.
Troy, on the other hand, always wanted to be an artist, but his route to glass was circuitous as well. But it was a trip to Europe that ignited his interest in stained glass. He dove in head first learning as much as he could about different techniques from various glass studios.
Speaking of technique, Mark, Seth and Troy each work with glass very differently, from blown to fused glass, cast to stained glass, and even woven glass.
Listening to the artists’ various processes gives one appreciation for the patience it takes to work with glass. Troy often fires and refires his pieces in the kiln. Seth will sometimes have to wait months for his cast glass pieces to properly anneal, the process of gently reducing the heat of a piece to ensure it doesn’t shatter. Mark weaves stringers of glass and forms them over a mold in a process that takes weeks.
But the need for patience is part of the allure.
“It is very labor-intensive and there are certain parameters we have to operate within,” Troy said. “Glass is only going to do certain things, no matter how hard we push it. It’s fun to push those boundaries, but they do exist. With it comes the notion that when you’re creating these works you are building something, you’re constructing something out of the material, which I find very satisfying.”
**Watch the full Art Discovery recording below.