The Pacific Northwest is known for great glass—and Portland glass artist Christine Downs pays homage to the area through some of her fused forms. Surf the Northwest (right), a 10-inch by 15-inch serving platter, is a good example. Oregon inspired both the form and the colors. “This is from a series of pieces that look like surfboards and sharks’ teeth,” says Downs, who learned her techniques by taking classes at Bullseye Glass and Cline Glass, and from her mentor, glass tile artist Karen Story. “I was picturing surfing off the Oregon coast. When I added the border, I put in quick, gestural drawings of trees. And the greens and deep reds are Northwest colors.”
In glass-blowing, red is the most difficult color to make. If the glass gets too hot as the color is added, it can turn brownish-yellow. Red, however, is the color at which glass artist Donald Carlson excels. “Most of the colors, you can make easily, but with red, there are a million variables such as time, temperature and how you work the glass,” says the 62-year-old. “I’ve devoted my whole career to making simple, elegant shapes in red.”
Ewan Collins’ first job installing mosaics took him underground. “I was asked to work for New York City’s transit authority art program, and I did mosaics for the subway system,” he says.
Water drops. Tree roots. Antlers. Soap bubbles. Everything from organisms to human organs serves as inspirations for glass artists Andi Kovel and Justin Parker, the partners behind the Portland-based esque studio. “Esque is a suffix—as in picturesque or burlesque,” says Kovel. “We wanted a studio name that acknowledges that everything that surrounds us influences us.”