Kiln formed glass art, whether pate de verre, cast or fused glass art, is Judith Bohm-Parr’s passion.
Judith’s skills in kiln formed glass art, using methods such as pate de verre, cast or fused glass art are central to her work as an artist and so it seems to me that her glass furnace must be one of her best friends!
She has five, computer controlled, electric kilns and they are used according to the size and style of the work in hand,
For her jewellery Judith often combines art glass beads, made using a blowtorch, with cast work, which often calls on the subtleties and deceptive softness of pate de verre.
Judith, in common with many artists, has developed various markets and styles for her kiln formed glass art.
Judith hard at work in her tropical studio
Fused art glass slumped into molds
Judith’s production work, sold under the banner of her very successful Studio 8 Glass business, is made by cutting sheets of flat coloured glass into shapes (eg Barrier Reef fish, rainforest flowers and birds etc) then fusing them together, flat, at a high temperature in a glass furnace. After the fused glass has slowly cooled it is placed onto fibre glass molds in the shape of bowls etc and re-fired at a lower temperature, just enough to soften the glass, which then slumps into it and takes on the shape of the mold.
These brightly coloured kiln formed glass art bowls and plates are very popular as gifts – especially with wedding guests and corporate groups, which love them!
Below is a wedding commission, ready for fusing in the long, top-firing kiln.
Cut and shaped coloured glass in kiln ready to be fused
Art glass beads
Glass beads are painstakingly made, one at a time, by melting coloured glass with a blowtorch, then transferring it to the end of a metal rod, which is then turned by hand as the heat is applied until the desired shape and size is achieved. As with kiln formed glass art, making glass beads and jewellery is very time consuming but the results are stunning.
Judith’s glass art work uses Bullseye powdered glass, which she sometimes purchases ready to use or else crushed glass, which she prepares herself. She says that smashing and crushing glass is a good way to release pent-up feelings! It also means that she has less wastage as she can use left-overs from other jobs, such as fusing and slumping, described above.
It seems to me that the pate de verre process and its beautiful, ethereal and magical results is where Jude’s heart lies. She made an indelible impression with it in 1993 when we first met and she was exhibiting at our fine art gallery, Mowbray Gallery, tucked away in the rainforest near Port Douglas.
Cast pate de verre fountain in a resort at Port Douglas
The Glass Journey Begins
Judith’s glass art journey had started when she was living in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia and making stained glass art. She enjoyed this occupation but it intensified her interest in learning more about the tantalising properties of glass and, in particular, kiln formed glass art.
So, off to Canberra School of Art she went, emerging with a degree in visual arts with a glass art major – what else?
Judith’s engagement with the tropics, begun in Darwin, continued in Cairns in Far North Queensland, a cosmopolitan, yet frontier-type town where, as they say, “reef and rainforest meet”.
Here she set up her studio, quite an undertaking with its requirements for specialized equipment and industrial type space, and continued her artistic journey.
The fragile, sugary looking, pate de verre glass, literally a ‘paste of glass’, became her main interest and art form.
Pate de verre was used to cast these delicate shallow bowls
These breathtakingly beautiful, sculptural forms seemed to have a life of their own. Deep from within the bases of her bowl or vase forms glowed a rosy or cool light, depending on the colour of the glass paste used. This created the effect of the forms seeming to float above the display pedestals on which they were placed.
Fragile-looking pate de verre leaf skeleton
A New Direction
A change in personal circumstances in 2005 led to Judith moving away from Cairns to a tiny hamlet south of that centre. From here she was introduced, by new friends, to the hinterland, to the Savannah and dry mining country beyond the ranges.
In these surroundings the subtleties of washed-out colour in an ancient landscape, the orange-reds, soft greens and rusty or yellow ochres, evoked a response, which coincided with thoughts of personal adornment and referenced the often harsh history of the landscape through which she moved.
Amber coloured fused glass, hand made beads and leather necklet
As one travels through the inland Australian landscape (the ‘Outback’) there are so often deserted relics of previous occupation – whether it be of the ‘hunter-gatherer’ Australian aborigines or of more recent European and Asian settlement.
The small shards of rusted metal, decayed leather, semi precious stones, broken glass turned blue by the sunlight, or tiny, tenacious desert flowers tell a story and invite conjecture.
Cast green pods with dichroic glass and art glass beads
So it was that Judith’s one-off glass jewellery was born. Interestingly, Judith has chosen to tell her most recent story through the scaled-down use of her comfortable yet still exciting old friends – pate de verre and art glass beads.
So, for this artist, her journey with kiln formed glass art has come full circle!
After a ‘round Australia ‘ road trip in late 2010, Judith is back having fun with her glass furnaces and powdered glass and passing on her knowledge via her popular
Please see her website for more details of her artwork and the workshops or use the form below to contact her direct.
PS September-October 2011 saw Jude and partner, Paul, off to England as a delegate at “Making Futures, The Crafts as Change Maker in Sustainably Aware Cultures", where her expertise in kiln formed glass art was greatly appreciated.
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