Wendy Dunder

When Wendy Dunder constructs one of her illuminated sculptures, the piece gives her direction. “The material tells you what you can do,” she says. “If you bend it too far, it’ll break. It’s a very Zenlike and meditative process.”

  Dunder, 60, got the idea for these sculptures when she saw something similar at a gallery, tracked down the artist and asked about techniques. “He gave me a quick lesson,” she says. “Then I worked out how I wanted to do it.”

  A native of Hood River, Ore., Dunder has a degree in art education from the University of Oregon and has worked as an artist-in-residence, in schools and on a Navajo Indian reservation. “I’m very lucky that I’ve always been able work with kids or art and sometimes even both,” she says.

  Dunder first shapes the wood pieces for her illuminations such as Sugar Shack (right), then temporarily keeps them together with clothespins. Then she uses watered-down white glue to adhere layers and layers of white tissue paper to the shaped wood. Although the sculptures appear fragile, they are actually quite sturdy. “The strength comes from the shrinking of the glue, which tightens everything as it dries,” Dunder says.

  The 2-foot-tall Sugar Shack is $350, and the 2-foot by 20-inch by 20-inch Eyepod costs $600. Both sculptures are lit with environmentally sound lightbulbs.

  Contact Wendy Dunder at 503-317-9450 or via her website at Her studio will be on the Portland Open Studios tour Oct. 21 and 22, 2007. For more information about Portland Open Studios, go to