Before we welcome Nancy Seaton as our guest speaker this Saturday for our Fireside Chat Series, I had the pleasure to visit with her at one of the Grand Marais Art Colony’s studios and take a peek at the colorful mess that surrounds her in action.
Knowing Nancy as watercolor artist, many might be surprised that there is no water involved in her latest work. Still, there is an abundant array of color on Nancy’s pallet, or should I say, inside the drawers and boxes where she arranges her glass pieces of many shapes and colors. Yes, that’s right. Like many artist, Nancy’s creative nature doesn’t like to be limited by just one outlet. As she puts it: “I seem to like bouncing between media. I think that fused glass has captured my heart for now. Being able to work with color and have it shine back at me is exciting. I’ve always liked working with my hands and glass fills that need.”
Her charming explanation of glass fusing magic takes me back to my grandma’s kitchen, where there is always something in the oven. “Imagine you are baking something”, she says. “You need to get right ingredients, follow the recipe step by step and make sure not to skip anything. Put it in the oven, get the temperature right and leave it in there for the right amount of the time, not to take it out too early but not leave it in too long either. All of these things matter.”
Nancy draws a sketch or lets the shape of glass inspire her when building her pieces, layering one “ingredient” on to another until all the parts, driven by her vision, take its place. Small, large, dark, light, transparent or opaque has its own dedicated space, design to create different effect. Sometime even a piece of copper finds its way in between. Once the puzzle is completed, the stack is heated to a very high, hard to imagine for Minnesotans, temperature in the kiln until the separate pieces start to bond together, expand and soften the edges. This might sound simple, a little math and science should do, but transformation of the glass is tricky and requires a lot of patience. One must account for thickness, size and type, even the brand of glass. There is no peaking into the kiln once is fired. Fused glass is not ready to come out until it’s evenly cooled down. Experimenting with this media provides Nancy with a lot of excitement. “I like to do lots of creative things and have often fallen back to familiar subjects when exploring a new medium or palette. Glass gives me a path to explore basic design concepts – light/dark, rhythm, color. I like that. It’s very soothing and strong at the same time. My watercolors have become more of portraiture of the gems in the forest–flowers, butterflies, leaves. I never intend to make them absolutely botanically correct, but to reflect the feeling I have when I think of them. The same is true of my fused glass work; my Totems reflect the feelings I have for Lake Superior and her many moods. Glass has provided a way for me to share my feelings of birds with their gorgeous, blended and strong colors.”
The vibrant colors of Nancy’s Lake Superior, Goldfinch or Rainbow Totems capture me every time I walk by them in the gallery. There is something very tactile about fused glass, too. Once very sharp edges, now perfectly smooth spread joy when touched. I have watched many people smile when putting their hand into the bowl filled with her kiln carved Happy Stones in mouth watering colors. At the gallery, I am able to witness, Nancy Seaton’s hope for people to connect with the sense of awe she has for the treasures in this beautiful place, up the North Shore, is becoming a reality.Join us at the Fireside Chat this Saturday, March 2nd, for a talk, treat and fun with this very inspiring positive and versatile artist.
Blog written by Miriama Douglass