Featured Artist: Sarah Miller, Creston, B.C.

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I came to the world of fused glass in the way that I suppose most of us did; I had been working with stained glass since the early 1990’s when I “discovered” glass that had been manipulated in a kiln. Until then, I hadn’t realized that was an option! I was living in rural British Columbia (I still am) and the internet was relatively new, but my fortuitous visit to a glass retailer in Idaho awakened me to an art form that has been my passion for over 10 years now.

Shortly after buying my first kiln (encouraged by my husband) I attended the Glass Expo in Las Vegas, where I took some introductory courses in order to learn the basics. From there, I did a lot of experimenting. There are no fusing shops near me, so I had to improvise with what I had on hand to try to bring forth the ideas bubbling in my brain. I’m grateful for that. I think if I could run to a glass shop every time I thought I needed a particular tool or supply, I wouldn’t have had to become creative/innovative with what was in my studio. Within all of that experimenting, I came up with some techniques that I put into the tutorials that I sell in my shop on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SarahMillerGlass I have a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/SarahMillerGlassTutorials related to the tutorials, which is full of tips and mini-tutorials. It has been very gratifying to be able to share in this way.

Before Covid, my husband and I would make the 9 hour drive down to Portland each fall. We would go to the Bullseye Resource Center, so I could stock up for the following year, and we’d also take part in the Run like Hell 5K. I miss that, and I miss Portland, and I wonder sometimes if I’ll ever get back down there. For now I’m ordering from Bullseye online, grateful that they ship into Canada. Having the tutorials and the Facebook group, and being part of the Glass Guild makes me feel connected to other fusers, and I’m grateful for that as well.

During this quiet time of Covid, I often find that I’m not drawn to working with glass. I’ve started working with textiles, making small art quilts using some of the same methods I use with glass. It’s quite amazing how similar quilting is to fusing, actually. That’s not to say that I haven’t been producing glass pieces.

I did quite a few pet portraits last year, just before Christmas. All of them were based on photos that were emailed to me by the person requesting the portrait. After working with the photos so intensely, I often felt like I knew the animal, which was really nice. I tried to capture the essence of the animal without just copying the photo. I mostly used just black powder, but every once in a while I added some color, as you see in this little one’s ears.

I so enjoyed creating the animal portraits that I decided to challenge myself by doing a person. My niece and her husband were separated by Covid, so I decided to do a portrait for her. I had intended to use only powder, as I did with the animals, but as I started on this I realized that dichro glass would be fabulous for the sunglasses, so I ran with that.

Of all the techniques I use and enjoy, I think the powdered evergreens is the one I’ll always keep coming back to. I have no idea how many pieces I’ve done using this technique, but I just find it so relaxing and satisfying. I can just do it without having to stress about anything. (This is one of the tutorials that I sell.)

Looking at these photos, which are some of my favorite pieces, I guess I’d say that I don’t have a particular style. The common thread running through all of them is that I’ve documented the creation of each one. I’ve been doing that pretty much since I started fusing. I find it really interesting to see how a piece looks during all of the stages of creation. That’s the sort of thing I like to share in the Facebook group.

I’m looking forward to a new year of creating, and to being inspired by your creations!
-Sarah Miller