By Donna Fischer
Curiosity certainly has a way of stimulating scientific study, but it also plays a part in artistic pursuits. Disparate materials can fuse into a work of art, reflecting the mysterious chemistry that makes up the world around us.
When Sara Rezin approached the art of fusing glass and other elements together, she did so from a distinct sense of curiosity. And that need to figure out how things react together has paid off beautifully. Her creations show a depth of imagination and a talent for drawing the viewer into the story behind the work. The Appleton artist will exhibit her work at Artstreet for the first time this year. Jewelry and decorative glass pieces in vivid color will catch your eye as you stroll through the booths in downtown Green Bay later this month.
For Rezin, the process began with a gift. “I started working with glass about four years ago,” she explains. “I’ve been creative and artistic all my life and I’ve dabbled in all kinds of things: watercolor, paper arts, quilting, and photography. My family decided that it would be fun to get me a kiln for my jewelry art, and the scientist in me likes to figure things out, so I wanted to figure out what else I could do with this kiln and learn more about the glass.”
Rezin sites a sense of curiosity and experimentation have driven her towards discovery in her work.
“I definitely have a curious brain; I want to figure out how things work. I do a lot of reading and research. I just experiment around with it. It’s a fun process and I get to make something that can be really meaningful. I made a plate for a wedding gift where I used a leaf from a wedding bouquet and fused it into a glass plate so I ended up with a very meaningful gift. I used to play with paper arts and handwriting. I can take somebody’s favorite recipe or a poem and just capture somebody’s handwriting. I digitize it and I have a process where I preserve it in glass to create some really meaningful heirloom pieces.”
Though Rezin took some classes, she is for the most part self-taught. Her logo includes the image of a unicycle, a vehicle which she learned to master through persistent use as a child. She maintains that the qualities that helped her ride a cycle with only one wheel earlier on came in handy when tackling this new art form. “You have to be very patient, but at the end you look in the kiln, and there’s a surprise. And once it’s done, it’s done. Once the glass is fused it’s permanent. Glass is funny. You can cut several pieces of glass and put them together and have an idea going into it what you’re going to get. You put it in the kiln and several hours later it’s either totally different than what you expected or you get what you were hoping for. There’s serendipity involved with it. There’s a lot of experimenting. When I was learning and I would ask people, ‘What do I need to know?’ the advice that I often got was, ‘Just take a lot of notes. Experiment and take a lot of notes.’ So I did a lot of that.”
Though her artwork takes over workspace at home formerly used by her husband, Rezin says that she has the support of her family in her two-year-old business. She is able to stay at home to care for her granddaughter and sneak some creative time in.
Designing a piece can take anywhere from an hour to many hours, and the kiln process takes multiple days as more than one kiln cycle is typically required. Customized artwork is something Rezin specializes in. From handwriting on glass to imprints of wedding bouquet leaves in glass, she has found a manner of personalizing this hard material and softening it with sentiments. She says that part of the process she enjoys the most comes from customers’ input on their orders. “When I meet with someone, I love hearing the stories of why they chose that specific piece of writing,” Rezin explains. “There’s a whole story that goes with it to make a meaningful piece of art.” One of her personal favorites involves her grandmother’s molasses cookie recipe, captured timelessly in her favorite color – purple.
She’s looking forward to Artstreet, where she will display her jewelry, sculptural pieces, functional pieces, and more whimsical pieces. She’s exhibited art at Appleton’s Art in the Park, as well as at a local gallery, and a bracelet of hers — one with actual pieces of a piccolo — made it into a national art magazine last year. Working with glass, metal, stone, and other elements has perhaps made Rezin more alert to the artistic potential in her environment. “I’m always looking at things; I’m looking at colors; I’m looking at stories. It’s definitely made me even more creative because one idea leads to another and it’s generally another thing that I want to try.”
Find Sara Rezin and many more artists at Artstreet in Downtown Green Bay, August 22 – 24. For more information on Sara Rezin’s work go to www.rezinstudios.com. ν