On Jessica’s work

So I mentioned recently that Jessica has started creating fused glass art, which you can find on her website, and I promised I would talk about how this came about.



Jessica doing her work

Last year, we were looking for something to do on a summer afternoon, and we decided to pop into the local paint-it-yourself ceramics studio. Now, I have never been much of an artist, and painting is definitely not my thing, and so I painted a badly botched dragon figurine, and Jessica, who inherited her painting talent from me, painted a cat, and I will just leave it at I use her cat figurine as a paperweight because I’m her mother and I have to show support.

I happened to notice that the studio also let people work in fused glass, and earlier in the year a colleague of mine had sent me a piece of glass she’d worked on, and I thought, “Pretty! I would like to do that!” So the next time Jessica and I were at loose ends, we went to the studio and worked on some glass instead of painting ceramics.

Basically you take a pane of glass (it can be a square or a rectangle or an oval whatever) and you make a design on it with pieces of colored glass, which you cut into various shapes to fit your vision for the piece. Then you glue everything together. Then the piece is fired, which melts the colored glass to the base glass. The resulting piece becomes something much prettier than it would otherwise be.

I made an extremely orderly vase with carefully measured squares of colored glass, and Jessica made something apparently (although not actually) at random that was jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

A few weeks later we went back and she made another thing that was jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and I made another neat and orderly vase.

Here’s an example of Jessica’s work:



And here’s another one:


And a few closeups of some other things:






She spends a lot of time picking over the glass, trying to come up with a concept, a process that is completely mysterious to me, because I’m all, “How about neat rows?”

This is what happens when I try to do art glass:


It’s, you know, FINE. Perfectly fine. But it doesn’t make anyone go, “Oh, wow.”

So we go back, week after week, and Jessica works on her art, and she learns about the medium, and she has successes and failures, and some days are harder than others, and sometimes she can’t come up with a design she likes, which reminds me a lot of the work I do.

And so that is what Jessica is up to do these days, and I admit I am still a little stunned. I think of all that she has been through and how impossibly damaged her sight is and how hard it has been for her to learn every single thing, and yet she does this, makes art that is so beautiful each piece is a little bit like a song.


My collection of travel stories, Travels with Jessica, is now available! Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here. And I’ve published my essay “For Jessica” as a small book. Kindle and paperback here; other ebook formats here.

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