Featured Artist Charlene Fort, (formerly from Hood River, OR) …now living in Texas

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This is what my world has become: I think, talk, and breath glass. I dream about it, I wonder about it, I envision things with it. OK enough. You get the picture. Some history is due here. When I was about 6 years old, my mother took me on a “special” weekend down to Colorado Springs, Colorado to visit different places. One of the places we went there was a glassblower demonstrating how to blow glass. The fascination that it held to that 6-year-old child went so deep into my psyche that when I turned 50, it emerged again into full blown passion

Charlene’s beautiful blown glass

We had moved into Hood River, Oregon from Texas. In looking for things of interest to do, I ran across a Community Education course that Linda Steider was teaching. It was a 6-week long class on fused glass. Her description brought back images of the glassblower to my brain. Not knowing that fusing was different than blowing, I imagined being in that arena of hot glass and playing with it. After the second 6-week course with Linda, I told her that “this is interesting but so predictable. Wasn’t there something else that you played with that involved hot glass?” Needless to say, I was simply shouting out my own ignorance about the predictability of this medium. Linda graciously referred me to Andy Nichols who had just quit his job to become an artist in hot glass. I called him and immediately got into his first class.

Charlene Fort and Andy Nichols

After several 6-week sessions with Andy, he asked me if I would become his assistant. Of course, it took nearly 3 nano-seconds to reply in the positive. Nearly 20 years later we are still together. The quality of education I received from both Linda and Andy have instilled in me a desire to do things to the BEST of my ability. Even though I have a new location in Texas, my home is with Andy in the hot-shop. This is something I have had to put to rest temporarily but I’m certain I will return to play with him at the end of a hot pipe soon.

As we age, we find the body refuses to be gracious in the things we expect of it. So, the weight of the pipe and glass was beginning to strain the forearm near the thumbs. The constant turning of the pipe with the added weight extended nearly 5 feet away from the center of your body, began to take its toll. Because of that, I realized I really needed to get more into the “predictability” of the fusing process.

Every time that I open the kiln and find something didn’t quite work out the way I envisioned it, I think back to my arrogant statement to Linda. I have quietly learned that THERE IS NOTHING PREDICTABLE ABOUT GLASS. Unless you are Bullseye’s research team.

Really, there are so many considerations to be aware of with this medium and the techniques that others have developed and gladly shared make this a lifetime challenge. Currently I don’t have a studio. We have engaged a builder to build a studio, however, the time of year here in south Texas has not lent itself to much progress. The land has been excavated for the concrete guys to come pour the foundations and floor. However, between two severe rainstorms and a tornado, the rich black clay soil is still too wet to lay the foundation.

Patience is my new catch-phrase.When the studio is completed, my goal is to be able to have fellow teachers come down here and teach a class. This area is ripe for glass to be introduced. I have numerous neighbors just waiting to get into this studio. We have a guesthouse that is waiting for teacher and student bodies to occupy. Life sure is interesting. ——Charlene Fort