As a child, Suzanne Kindland believed certain words held magical properties. Two of these words were "horizon" and "crucible."
Years later, when Kindland came to Cannon Beach to live and work, she found her horizon looking out across the vast Pacific. But it wasn't until she entered the world of Icefire Glassworks that she discovered her crucible at the base of a 2,000-degree furnace.
Like many people before and after her, Kindland walked into the Icefire Glassworks studio and fell in love with a beautifully blown glass bowl created by resident artist Jim Kingwell. Unlike many before her, this marked the beginning of a huge transition in her life that took her out of the hospitality industry into the fiery depths of the art world. Within six months of meeting Kingwell, she was working full time as a glass artist.
"There was a lot of synchronicity at work," Kindland remembers of that time. Not only did she fall in love with the magic of glass blowing, she also fell in love with the glass blower. Kindland and Kingwell were married in 2008 after years of living and working together.
Icefire Glassworks is a unique member of the Cannon Beach Gallery Group in that it is a working studio. The artists create their one-of-a-kind pieces under the watchful eyes of art patrons. There is an art alone in being able to work with molten glass as the crowd watching grows, one that both Kindland and Kingwell handle with aplomb and grace.
Work never seen before by the public will be unveiled over the course of Spring Unveiling weekend, beginning with a sneak peek on Friday night.
Kingwell will reveal new work from his Nascence series. A tribute to spring and all it symbolizes, the Nascence vessels were blown out of shades of green reminiscent of new buds on trees and pinks that remind one of delicate cherry blossoms.
Gold and silver threads grace the vessels in Kindland's Brocade series, inspired by richly colored Chinese fabrics.
Like all great art, what the viewer sees is the beauty and grace of the end product, the perfectly formed bowl or vase. However, the complexities of the process go beyond what the layman can understand. There is the very chemistry of the glass used, which must match up in the end product or the pieces would eventually split apart.
"Glass contracts and expands everyday," Kingwell explained.
There is, too, the disciplined practice that makes artists a master of their craft. Kindland and Kingwell are in the shop every day of the week, attending to some phase of the glass blowing process. There are furnaces to attend to, glass to heat to a malleable level, and formulas to work out. On the days when Kindland and Kingwell blow new work (Thursdays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), they arrive at the studio two hours before opening to heat up the raw materials for the day.
The artists work with over 200 colors of glass, which they mix to form an infinite variety of colors. Kindland and Kingwell select a palette of colors to work with in much the same way as a painter rendering a landscape would choose colors.
In the past, Kingwell, who describes himself as a bit of a "glass-chemistry nerd," has written his own formulas for creating the base clear glass that is mixed with the colored glass. In fact, one of Kingwell's first glass studios, located in Portland in 1975, was an experimental "kitchen" where he cooked up all different kinds of recipes.
Presently, Icefire Studio's clear glass is manufactured for them in Spruce Pine, N.C., because Kingwell has found it to be more affordable than mixing it up from scratch - and it shaves 4.5 hours off his 60-hour work week.
Icefire Glassworks has been involved with the Cannon Beach Gallery Group's Spring Unveiling arts festival since its inception. The event has become a marker during the calendar year, the point at which the quiet days of winter have wound down and the pendulum has begun swinging back toward the busy apex of the year, summer.
Still, it's a long way from the first weekend in May until July 4. The festivities in town during Spring Unveiling have given the town an event to galvanize around while extending an invitation to visitors to come stay in Cannon Beach while things are still mellow.
It is an event that gallery owners, artists, and visitors have come to look forward to since it was begun ten years ago.
Click here to view the Spring Unveiling PDF