Kathryn Adams Creates Luminous Works from Glass
Glass artist Kathryn Adams explores the possibilities of the medium to create beautiful, functional items. While she concentrates on glass and manages the gallery at the Asheville Glass Center, Kathryn has also studied ceramics and printmaking. Her pieces have been offered at k2 for several years; her latest work includes collaborative custom tableware created with ceramicist Nick Moen. Thank you to Kathryn for telling us a bit about her work and her creative journey.
What is it that draws you to glassmaking? When did you start?
I was introduced to glass four years ago but have only been blowing glass fulltime for two years. I’m drawn to glass because the material itself is inherently beautiful so I feel like I am trying to figure out how to control a material that is molten and untouchable to become something accessible.
What is your favorite part of the process and why?
I love working with glass because it is a very physical and exciting process. It’s a very difficult craft to master and makes working with it an intriguing challenge.
Please talk about how your work has evolved since you begin working in glass.
Glass is such a hard material to master that my vision for my work has always been fairly simple. I love making functional objects that people will have and use in their homes. I am constantly trying to improve upon a simple object like a tumbler or a vase. I try and make something that is both functional and beautiful.
What brought you to Asheville?
I first came to North Carolina 2 1/2 years ago to attend a class at the Penland School of Crafts; after that I interned at Jackson County Green Energy Park, a studio that uses methane gas from a landfill to blow glass. I met Hayden Wilson, who is involved with taking Asheville Glass Center—a previously private-run glass studio—and turning it into a public glass studio. I was asked to join the project and now I manage the Asheville Glass Center Gallery, which shows over 25 different artists from the area.
What is special about the creative community in Asheville?
I feel I am incredibly lucky to live in a community that is full of young, talented artists and entrepreneurs. One of the coolest examples of this is our pint glasses that we make for the Wedge Brewing Company where we collaborated with Gabe Aucott, a woodworker down the street, to make our glass process easier. You can hear Gabe talk about the process (and watch us make a pint glass) about three minutes into this video.
Beyond just collaborating with Gabe to create a tool that we often use in our studio, my experience with the Asheville art community has been nothing but welcoming. Leaving a university setting with all the equipment you need to make a vision happen is daunting because you know it will be hard to find this luxury again. In Asheville if you have a metal, or ceramic, or print, or photo project that you need help with you always have a friend right around the corner. My best friends and I are working on creating a collective based on this idea right now: it’s called M.U.C., “Makers Unite Collective.” The idea is to bring all different material artists together to create multimedia, collaborative, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Talk about how you became involved with k2.
When I first moved to Asheville I was walking down Lexington Avenue and saw an amazing window space in k2 Studio that I thought would be perfect for these glass globes I make. That was just the beginning of the relationship; since then k2 has carried a variety of my work for a couple years. It’s an awesome opportunity to see your work set out in beautifully designed home situations.
Please tell us about the collaborative tableware that you and Nick Moen create for k2. We understand it had some unique technical challenges?
We set out to design a functional wine glass combining our two mediums, glass and ceramic. We wanted to make stemware that was influenced by the immediate surroundings and wine itself, and the final product is two separate mediums meeting as one. Because the two mediums shrink at different rates, Nick had to develop a slip-casting mold to allow the stem to accept the glass goblet top seamlessly. It also involves using a wooden mold for the goblet.
Note: We will focus on this innovative tableware in a future blog, so please visit us again soon for more information on this fascinating marriage of glass and ceramics.
Besides working with Nick, do you collaborate with other area artists?
Working with glass seems like it’s always a constant collaboration. Hayden and I have been blowing glass together for the last two years and although there is always a gaffer (the lead glass blower, or glass artist) for each piece there is always a glass assistant, so for every piece I make it always has a two sets of eyes.
We understand you just studied shoemaking. Do you think the creative process is strengthened by studying other media besides your favorite one?
Absolutely I have always enjoyed working with many different materials. Before glass I worked with ceramics for 8 years. It was at college that I started printmaking and glassblowing, both processes I still use in most of my work. Glass has dominated my time over the past couple of years and it’s a very fast paced process. When I took my shoemaking class it was a totally different experience—working on one pair of shoes for over 48 hours was a great opportunity to explore a different material. I will always be fascinated in many different materials and it is such a blessing to live in Asheville where working with a variety of materials (and people) is always available.
Photos courtesy Kathryn Adams