Every month, Creative Gateways celebrates their resident artists with an honored focus on each person’s new works, source of inspiration, talent, and origin story. This month we are excited to turn the spotlight on Pilisa Rainbow Lady…
Creative Gateways and AMusinGlass founder Pilisa Rainbow Lady has done many projects over her years as a fused glass artist, each with a different origin or inspiration. Sometimes this is creating personalized doors for the artists in the studio, sometimes it is designing sconces for a new restaurant, or even creating signage for a new sister gallery. Pilisa’s talents are constantly in demand, which means that commissions can sometimes be a decent chunk of her work. But these commissions can also open fun new doors for personal creative growth, as was the case for a new series of bowls Pilisa has been creating for her spotlight.
The impetus for the bowls was actually a commission request from visitors to the gallery. “Back during the SVAC Open Studios in April, a couple came in and wanted to talk to me about a commission. They wanted a glass bowl, and so I showed them some pieces I had previously made. However, it turned out they wanted a really big bowl, and so eventually I showed them the sink mold.” This particular mold is seven inches deep, with a diameter of twenty-one and a half inches, and is typically used to make the bowls for raised sinks. “We’ve had that mold for a while, but this is the first time I had actually used it.”
The clients had liked previous works from Pilisa that had used frit powder, and requested something similar for their bowl. “Since I hadn’t worked with a mold this big before, I wanted to make a test bowl to see how much frit powder I was going to need.” Pilisa’s initial attempt came out looking beautiful, but not exactly how Pilisa wanted. “Personally, I like my pieces to have lots of saturation in the colors, and so it was clear that I was going to have to use a lot more frit powder to get that result.”
Which is exactly what Pilisa did when creating the commission piece, which had been requested to include oranges and deep reds – leading Pilisa to name it “Fireside.” She was not shy about using frit powder and used water to move the powder around the areas to create a nice overlap of colors. Additionally, Pilisa included a few turquoise patches, knowing that the results would be interesting. “The sulfur in the red and orange frit powder chemically reacts with the copper in the turquoise frit powder when the piece is fired. So what you get is a sort of nice, brownish outline to the turquoise patches. It’s impossible to ever know exactly how these chemical reactions will turn out, but I was very pleased this time.”
Unfortunately, after creating the Fireside bowl, the clients had changed their mind and no longer wanted the piece. But for Pilisa this was a blessing in disguise. “I really liked how it turned out, so I could just add it right into the series of bowls I was creating .” By this point, Pilisa had actually become quite interested in working with the sink mold, and decided to do several more bowls for her spotlight. The next was a bowl incorporating shades of blue, and Pilisa is currently creating at least two other bowls: one in shades of purple and the other in a design yet to be determined.
Overall, Pilisa has found the experience to be fun and creatively stimulating, even with its unique challenges. “For some reason, slumping has been really problematic for these pieces. I’ve had to slump all of them twice, as it always seems to slump unevenly the first time.” When asked why this problem might be happening, Pilisa had a couple of guesses. “It could be that part of the glass is sticking to the mold the first time I slump it. I’m going to check the glass release agent on the mold before I fire the next one to see if that helps. It could also possibly have to do with the fact that the sink mold is made of steel, as opposed to most of our other molds that are ceramic.”
The entire endeavor has been a great example of how following the creative impulse inspired by something as seemingly isolated as a commission piece can lead to a wonderful, personal creative streak. In this way, an artist can fall into the beauty of the opportunities that are presented to them.
Be sure to see all of Pilisa’s new bowls by joining us at Creative Gateways Open Studios & Gallery on Friday, September 21st, from 5-8pm for the opening reception of Falling Into Beauty: Spotlight on Pilisa Rainbow Lady. Browse the gallery, talk with our resident artists, and enjoy small bites and wine!
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