January is one of the most beautiful months.
No, really. The sun may be weak but the reflection of even the weakest rays off snow and ice can create awe-inspiring visions. Prisms of color arc from these plain colorless crystals into a refractory explosion of all colors. Rainbows are a token of hope after rain, why not snow, too?
Light and brilliance in the dollhouse is just as awe-inspiring. Who hasn’t run wiring in a house and had that sharp breath intake moment when the switch is flipped and a golden glow fills the room?
And where would a table setting be without glass accessories from cake plates to goblets for that light to create twinkles and sparkles?
All that glitters is light and crystal in the winter world. Or year-round in the dollhouse realm for Gloria Lund, gloricon in CDHM Galleries Lighting & Electrical, and Barb Naas, Glass, Silver & Pottery gallery artist.
"I believe that chandeliers are the jewels that bring all else in the setting to life. So, it was by trial and error that I began making them myself. Over the years I'm glad to say I have greatly improved my technique," she said.
"I've worked with hot glass since the early 1990's when a good friend asked if I could make dimensionally round glass beads for a fiber piece she was designing - fused beads were traditionally flat backed at the time. After some very quick research, I bought a little oxygen/propane premix torch set for US$30.00 and started to make very small glass beads from recycled scrap glass. I was bitten by the torch bug and added lampworked glass to my artistic repertoire," said Barb.
Self taught, she moved from fiber to kiln-fired clay to fused glass to lampwork – through trial and error and her local library.
"The library system and trial and error were my teachers. Recycled materials art has been a lifelong passion of mine - due both to my strong feelings towards our home and originally, a lack of funds," she added.
"I had always been drawn to, and afraid of, glass. My Mom loved 'spun glass' curios, so as a young child I would make crafts to sell to the neighbors for US$1 each to have money to purchase pieces for her ‘on time' at a small store on Ashland Avenue in Chicago," said Naas.
"Like many of my generation, I made doll houses from shoe boxes and designed and made clothes for my one cherished Troll doll. Approximately six years ago I started designing artistic miniatures as a challenge to myself - making quality miniature jewelry in the 1:12 scale. My favorite supplies included using precious and semi-precious metals and beads, antique and hand-drawn glass beads, all with my hand fabricated findings - in the same manner I create for humans. It was only a small step to the torch to start creating lampworked 'blown glass' miniature art for collectors," said Barb.
"My ideas are basically in my imagination. I see a foundation or bead that I like and it tells me what to do with it. I am thrilled when I find a piece of vintage jewelry that screams at me, ‘Make me into a Chandelier’!" said Gloria.
Her main difficulty is in finding the right size beads. Wiring the piece is no longer a problem.
"It is difficult to find the correct tiny "crystals" (beads), since I live in a remote area in northern Minnesota USA. I have to I do a lot of surfing on the web for components – you sure can’t find that quality at the only store near here (40 miles away). But I do love to use the European glass because it is so brilliant and alive," she said.
"I absolutely HATE doing multiple lights in a fixture! So I DON'T. All my fixtures utilize central bulbs. I find the extra cost of all the inside 'filler layers' of beads not only give the look of opulence but hide and diffuse the light beautifully. When creating becomes a chore and no longer a joy, you are defeating yourself and your purpose. If anyone wants candles on brass sticks - well, there's plenty of them made in China," she said.
Her favorite piece is the "Masterpiece" light featured in her gallery.
"It’s a lavish crystal piece. But I have several favorites," she added with a laugh.
"The most difficult piece I've worked up thus far was a tiny goblet with a glass dragon wrapping up the stem and around the bowl. As with the majority of my work, I create to give others pleasure, and it sold at an art show," she said.
"I still truly love to create the delicate detailed jewelry, but there is nothing to compare with the magic of melting glass bits together on the torch and ending up with a beautiful one-of-a-kind piece of lampworked miniature glass art for someone’s small home," she added.
Fire and light come together for some pretty spectacular dollhouse results. Come and see.