In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we explore a new series of torch work pieces by Pilisa Rainbow Lady…
Into the Fire
AMusinGlass and Creative Gateways founder, Pilisa Rainbow Lady has been working as a fused glass artist for over a decade. In that time, she has created a large body of work spanning all different shapes, sizes, and techniques. For her recent “Waves” series, she returned to the particularly interesting technique of torch work: literally using a torch to heat and manipulate rods of glass.
Even though Pilisa has extensive experience with glass, it was only a little over three years ago that she started learning and practicing torch work. “Initially, I had my studio assistant help me to install a torch setup in the back bedroom of my house,” she explains. “It was kind of crazy, but we made it work.”
Pilisa was drawn to the idea of torch work for several reasons, including the natural feel it produced. “It creates a very organic look. It’s nearly impossible, for instance, to get a perfect ninety degree angle with torch work – at least not by hand. It’s inherently curvy, which looks more organic. And personally, I prefer that to something more rigid or obviously artificial.” It can also provide a variety of components for surface decoration, from creating torch work droplets to pulled stringers or rods.
Torch work also has a quality that acts as both a positive and a negative: its immediacy. Unlike kiln firing, torch work produces its effects nearly on the spot. “This can be nice, as you get to see the results immediately. But it also means you have to be especially careful, as its easier to make a mistake with the heating and cooling of the rods that causes the rods to thermal shock and break.”
By the Light of Waves
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.” – John Burroughs
The inspiration for Pilisa’s “Waves” series started as so many projects in the AMusinGlass studio do: love of experimentation. Specifically, she wanted to combine torch work with flow pieces – which ended up meaning using torch work to create surface decoration. At first, Pilisa made a single piece, “Skywaves,” as a donation to the Free Arts For Abused Children of Arizona annual Art From The Heart Art Auction in Phoenix. “I liked the result so much, I decided to make two more!”
The resulting pieces form a cohesive series, while each retaining their own individuality. “Skywaves” expresses both the buoyant freedom of a blue sky in day and the bold power of that same sky at night. “Earthwaves” captures the essence of life in all its shades of green, the torch work additions caressing the piece like kudzu on the rise. “Spiritwaves” embodies the internal elements of the world: from one corner a pink-purple shade washing in over the cracked coral pattern, from another a robust and darker tone expanding with confidence, a thread of the soul running between them. They are each their own work, and yet are inextricably tied to each other by invisible bonds.
You can see more of Pilisa’s stunning glass pieces, as well as the work of all our resident artists, at the Creative Gateways gallery, open 7 days a week, from 10am – 5pm!