fused dichroic glass jewelry

Artist's Story

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How I Met and Fell in Love with Fused Dichroic Glass

I have been fusing dichroic glass since 1999. What follows is the story of the serendipitous series of events that first led me to begin that work. I had been designing and creating beaded jewelry using semi-precious stones for about ten years when I was given my first piece of unfired dichroic glass by a friend who worked in a stained glass studio. I made a bezel of beads for it and featured it in a new beaded bracelet. I loved the quality and intensity of the color, and wanted to find a local source for more.

At the time, I was also doing graphic design. As I was looking on the internet for local Santa Fe web design companies that might need some freelance help, I found an interesting possibility, followed a link to a site the company had designed and cool!—the new site, which was also a local business, made pieces using dichroic glass. I called for an appointment to buy some. When I arrived, I was shown drawers and drawers of this super thin clear pastel glass which was totally unlike that first piece I was given. I almost left without buying anything, but instead asked what I could do with it as it was too thin to bead around. I was told I could fire it in a kiln to about 1475 and it would fuse together with other pieces as long as the coated side was next to the glass side of any other piece. Hmmm. I had already spent quite a bit of time there looking at glass and asking questions, and not wanting to appear ungrateful, I took out $20 and went home with two small squares of glass.

I borrowed one friend's glass cutter and another's ceramic kiln. Wow!—I was totally amazed and fascinated by what came out of that firing. I wanted more! When I returned to get more glass (I had enough money for another two pieces), the owner of the glass business transformed into my personal angelic agent and gifted me with a huge box of dichroic scrap to begin my journey! It felt like the beginning of a destined relationship where one already has the sense of deep connection, and at the same time incredible excitement around the possibilites that are yet to be revealed.

As I began learning by direct experience, the energy of inspiration and rekindled creativity alternated with the frustration and disappointment of not knowing what I was doing: seeing the results of overfiring, underfiring, inadequate equipment, etc. as well as the happy surprises of my experiments. At the time, I had just begun a journaling practice outlined in a book called "The Artist's Way" which helped me to process my experiences from a deeper perspective. I realized that at the heart of my wanting to be an artist was to be centered in the feeling of total connection with Spirit, from which all creativity flows.

The next crossroads I came to was the point of either continuing to do it "on the side" while earning most of my money some other way, or devoting myself "full-time" to being a glass artist. Although I had already started making glass fountains in addition to the jewelry, I was still sharing my friend's ceramic kiln. To take the leap, I needed my own glass kiln, but I virtually had no money with which to purchase one. At the time, in early 2000, I had four glass fountains at a cooperative artist's gallery I was part of. I was asking for higher guidance as to what I should do. Within days, a woman walked into the store and bought all four of my fountains! I bought my own kiln and more glass!

And so began the next phase of my journey as an artist. Part of the "message" I also received at the time was that if I wanted to make a successful living as an artist, not only would I need to be disciplined and know deep within that I could make it happen, but also be willing to sell my work. It has been an amazing journey to harmoniously blend both the creating of the art and the art of business: to make the pieces in a meditative state and then allow the sales exchange to flow naturally and easily. In the beginning I sometimes experienced the anxiety of not knowing how or where the money would come from, but then I would remember to let go of worry, return to the joy of working with the glass, make a few business connections and then see the pieces sell almost immediately. For the past five years I have been blessed to be able to successfully represent my own work on the Santa Fe Plaza through a special city program, at regional art fairs in the Southwest and at select galleries.

I came to Santa Fe from the East Coast in 1985, at the age of 30, following a vision of living a spiritual life within a community. For seventeen years I was involved with a group of artists devoted to bringing the ancient healing arts into present time. With a background in music and massage, I studied and continue to work with the healing power of sound, movement and touch, through chanting, fluting, drumming, creative dance, meditation and Reiki.

I perceive the glass pieces that I create as another facet of my healing work. On one level, color is simply different wavelengths or vibrations of visible light. On another, I feel that glass, which can both reflect and transmit colored light, is a mystical material that enables us to be touched by the magical essence of creation. As we clear obstructions to our personal growth, we also are able to reflect and transmit more spiritual light in our lives and the colors in our energy field become clearer, brighter and more luminescent. Wearing the vibrant jewelry can help to dispel the darker and denser energies that manifest as fear and separation while simultaneously connecting us with higher frequencies associated with feelings of appreciation and beauty. Seeing a magnificent dichroic piece on another person can elicit a similar effect within the observer

I aspire to uplift myself and others though the joy and gratitude I experience in both creating the work and connecting each person with the unique colors and shapes that resonate for them.

Sunny Smyth


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