Featured Artist: Linda Gerrard, Beaverton OR

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I started my glass art journey in 2012, then joined the Oregon Glass Guild in 2013. Many people ask how I got started making glass art. I’ve attended art fairs around the Portland area for many years and was always drawn to the glass displays. One day a friend said “you know you can learn to do this yourself”. Of course I was shocked that was possible, but thrilled when I found Aquila Glass and began my journey.

For the first several months, I used the pretty glass to make plates and bowls When I tired of that, I started making decorative nightlights, ornaments, and more intricately decorated plates and bowls. I would bring them to work to show my friends and they all wanted to buy my creations. Not only did they buy what I brought in, they also ordered commissioned pieces as well.

Since I didn’t own my own kiln yet, I took everything to a nearby shop and rented their kiln. I think everyone knows what a pain cleaning and reassembling all those little pieces of glass is! My husband was so surprised by all the pieces I was making and selling that he surprised me with a kiln for Christmas of 2012. That kiln had a 12” shelf and it took only 3 years for me to add another kiln with a 20” shelf. That was a real game-changer for me. By this time I was getting bored making plates and bowls, but really enjoyed designing and creating more artistic pieces.

It didn’t take long for me to want to take classes from people whose work I admired so I could learn new techniques and improve my skills. After taking several classes from local glass artists and admiring the work of others further away, on behalf of the Guild, I contacted one of my favorite artists to see if they would come to Portland to do a class. I did that for four or five years and all the participants were thrilled they could take these classes locally.

As far as a technique I am known for, there are actually two. Several years ago it occurred to me that I could mimic the Bullseye rolled edge and use it as the top of my artwork. Oddly enough, someone once told me I needed to work on my cutting skills so my piece had a straight top edge. Obviously, this was an intentional design element. The second thing is that I prefer to leave texture on my pieces. Most of my pieces are landscapes, so I first create my background and mid-ground before full fuse firing, then I tack fuse my foreground on leaving a lovely texture that catches the light and sparkles. Additionally, it draws people in to touch the piece for tactile enjoyment as well as visual.

I really enjoy creating beautiful, realistic landscapes and pieces with animals or birds. When people see my work in person, they always say how beautiful it is and that they’ve never seen anything like it. It’s such a challenge and I feel very pleased when I create a piece that has great depth and proper perspective making it feel like you’ve “been there” or you could walk right into the scene. The most challenging aspect of this art form is putting down enough powdered frit to give the intensity of color I want. This is especially true for transparent pieces where the color can sometimes just disappear during firing.

I’m always interested in learning new techniques or trying new products. I find that I rarely take a class then simply repeat the process to make another and another. Instead I usually find some part of it that I particularly like and incorporate that into my work. I think this is why people tell me they’ve never seen anything like my glass art; because it’s a combination of techniques. That being said, I have taken classes and purchased products that just don’t appeal to me and I either don’t use them or I find a way to incorporate just a little of what I learned into what I do. I’ll be bringing some of these unused items to the bargain table at the Guild picnic August 11th at Gail Haskett’s in Battle Ground WA. Hope to see you there!

See more of Linda’s work in the Members’ Gallery