2008 Interpretations of Self: Self Portraits in Glass

The challenge of exploring the self portrait was presented to members of the Warm Glass Bulletin Board the first time in 2005, http://www.warmglass.com/phpBB/index.php
and their works were shown in Spring, 2006


The rules for participation were that the artists have a desire to investigate the concept of self portrait, and execute that concept using kiln forming techniques.

It’s Spring, 2008 and I present to you the works of the 34 artists who took the self portrait challenge.

Enjoy your visit to our virtual gallery.
Please feel free to offer your comments to the artists.

Cynthia Oliver

All works depicted here are protected by copyright and should not be reproduced and/or copied without the express permission of the respective artists.

Tony Smith "Tony's Comet"

but in total control
speeding toward the end

living as though on fire
multiple lives at once
friends and relations in my wake

burning brightly
taking it all in
just to become ash


The piece is 10 inches tall and 18 inches wide. The glass is System 96. The base is a layer of 6mm clear with a layer of white on top. The face is three layers with a layer of black on the bottom, a layer of red and a layer of black irid on top. Each layer was cut on a Taurus 3 ring saw, then coldworked on the wet belt sander and tabletop grinder. The irid on the top layer of the face was masked and sandblasted.
Finally, the face and base were fused separately and combined with the tail of frit in the final, contour firing.


Michele Gutlove “Scattering Stars”

When I see myself, I see my hands. I see my hands in motion.

My most recent glass art commissions have been for large installations in spiritual settings. These commissions are where I want to be. The colored glass I use represents the greens of the Earth, the blues of the sky and the purples of the universe beyond.

For me the fluid nature of glass is paramount, which is why I choose to render colors and effects that change as they are viewed dynamically in reflected and transmitted light. In the shifting colors, the mirage of movement in the still medium, I attempt to capture the ceaseless flow of the universe. My hands are the means through which my inspiration flows, diminutive as they are relative to the larger pieces I create, insignificant as they are compared to the Earth, sky and universe that the work represents.

This 14.5” x 19.5” x 1” piece was created using transparent sheet glass and frits as well as dichroic glass in multiple, progressively cooler firings. The piece initiated with a sketch. The translation of the sketch onto a sheet of glass with a frit drawing of my hands and the background was fired at full fusing temperatures to flat smoothness. The next firings added increasing texture to the background and virtual depth to the smooth hands. I then created six crystal clear hands in subtly changing positions. In the last, and coolest firing, the original piece was kiln carved onto a mold, giving actual depth to the smooth colored hands. The six crystal clear hands were gently draped over the color kiln carved hands embracing and transforming them while creating the impression of motion.


Cynthia Morgan "Oh, really?"

In my last self-portrait I stuck to the minimum, making the simplest, least complicated form of glasswork I could do: a simple powder sketch. In this one I went back to my first love, pate de verre, and tried some tricks with perspective. The original image from this photo was shot from a point just above my forehead. To make the portrait appear fully three-dimensional yet remain relatively flat, I tried foreshortening the bottom of the face and proportionally increasing the top, to make it appear as though the head was sloping out of the frame at a much greater angle.

The mold was invested from a clay model, cleaned and corrected. I sifted a color layer of BE powder into the mold to shade in the features of the face, hair and background, then packed in powder-tinted mixtures of fine frit mixed with water and gum arabic. The glasses were cast separately and attached.

Right before I started this piece, a couple of people had remarked that I express doubt by looking over my glasses at the speaker as if I’m saying, “Oh, really?” So I decided to try posing that way.

Cynthia's tutorial of how she made "Oh Really"

Dimensions: 10”x13”x2”
Technique: Pate de verre
Glass used: Bullseye frits

Andrea Reaburn "C’est Moi (It’s Me)"

This was a very interesting process of looking at myself. Looking at pictures to see what I really look like. To see the aging process over the last 20 years and to find my true self in those images. This is where the name comes from. This piece is far from perfect, but it does capture the essence of me. My work process started with buying The Art of Painting on Glass by Albinas Elskus. I used a pen with enamel and clove oil to do the outline. Black and white enamels watered down with brushes and a palette knife to give depth and I used the gold and lustres to highlight. The glass used was Bullseye Light Peach Cream. I wanted the glass to have a fleshy tone after it was fired. The entire process was five different firings and each one brought out another layer of intricacies. It was also great learning experience. Learning to stop. I love the process and will continue with painting on glass.

Linda Steider & Haley Menton “In Search of Flower Fairies”

Haley, my niece, and I have searched for flower fairies since Haley was two years old. We’ve looked in every corner of every garden we’ve ever been in, and believe we caught a glimpse of one last summer. We finally decided the best way to find fairies is to pretend we are fairies. These portraits represent our fairy selves.

Haley’s portraits are my rendition in glass from her original drawings. She included one of her ‘real’ self and her ‘fairy’ self in flight.

Mine show a metamorphosis from ‘believer in all things magical’ to ‘inquisitive seeker of all truths’ to ‘wizened memory spouter’.

4” x 4” tiles, using Bullseye powdered glass atop a white base. Process temperature was 1300˚ Fahrenheit to retain texture and dimension.

Amy Houston "Goddess"

Creating goddess beads is one of my favorite ways to play with hot glass. I start with a basic body shape, and then I add the curves. The surface tension of glass makes it "want" to be round, and this works like magic to create a voluptuous female form. I mostly use this surface tension, in addition to gravity, to shape my piece; a small amount of shaping with various tools is also involved.

The bead-hole runs from head to toe lengthwise, so this bead can be easily attached to a necklace, or displayed as a miniature art piece.

In a very real way, all of my goddesses are self-portraits. Like many women, I have certainly suffered from my share of body image and self esteem issues. But these goddess beads are about celebrating the beauty of the female shape - they just wouldn't be as lovely without those curves. In this way, they are both inspiring and empowering to me. They are a reminder that there is an intrinsic beauty that all women possess - something female that is intangible but absolutely there.
I work in soft glass, and I love the reactive alchemy that I can produce with just the right combinations of colour. To me, working with glass is a contemplative, almost meditative process. Its vast potential for experimentation makes it such a wonderful source of creativity and self-expression.

I have a small glasswork studio in the (converted) garage of my home in Victoria, B.C.

Dimensions: ~2.5" long from end to end
Materials: soft glass, torch-formed


Terry Curtis "Self Esteem"

My portrait is entitled “Self Esteem” and represents how body image can impact your view of self. My weight and dress size have played a significant role in my life since my teens. It is only as I enter middle age that I realize that neither weight nor size define who I am.

7.5 x 10 “
Fused glass sheets, powders and frit.
I mixed Teal powder and fine frit and sifted it over a sheet of French Vanilla and added/subtracted to create the internal body shape. I selected colors that react as I wanted to use that to also help define the shapes. I then added additional parallel lines to my shape to indicate changing size. This was brought to a tack fuse. Next the tile was centered on a base of Teal topped with Clear Iridescent. More frit and powder were added to the lines to ensure they stayed raised and crisp. This was then brought to a dimensional fuse.

Terrie Corbett "Inner Countenance"

I am a painter and glass is my canvas. The work is opaque and abstract. By using brushes, palette knives or any implement I choose in the moment, I indulge my need for the expressive experience. I use high fire enamels, specifically Paradise Paint.

When I first began painting with these enamels, an unexpected learning curve materialized! The act of pushing the paint around was difficult. Enough medium had to be used to facilitate its movement, but not too much or the pigment’s intensity was lost. However, as with any challenge, you forge ahead, develop new mark-making skills, and hope that your technical proficiency will catch up with your ideas!

Like most painters and artists, I spend long hours in the studio and often work late into the night. I began inscribing personal notes in the paint to my husband. When I fire the piece, the enamels will flow and obscure the intimate nature of those words. The remaining glyphs contribute to the surface design and the messages remain, for me, an important part of the work.

There is an element of surprise when you combine the act of painting with the capricious
nature of kiln-fired glass. This is both the challenge and the reward!

High fire enamels, sgraffito
15” Square


Peter Cummings "The Artist as Observer"

Before and after developing a technique I feel an obligation as an observer. Then to present a celebration, a revelation, a conscience or a discussion. There are a lot of personal details here, but different parts will be relevant to different viewers.

12 inch high. 14 inch wide.
Applied cameo carving using System 96, Spectrum and Uroboros glass

Jeanette Bailor “Can’t See The Forest For The Trees”

Every now and then I approach a project and my mind is too muddled with details and random thoughts to plainly see the best way to attain my goal. I feel as though I am battling my way through the forest as I try to find my focus. Then, without consciously being aware of it happening, it will seem as though I have come through the trees and everything has fallen into place. It is as though the trees were never as hard to see through as I had imagined.

This piece signifies me looking through the forest trying to find my way.
This piece is a composition of imagery within a glass block, using Bullseye Tekta and powders. The base is 3mm French Vanilla, topped by four layers of 3mm Tekta. Powders were used to create images on each of the five layers. Each layer was fired separately after the application of powder, then all were stacked, dammed and fired to create the final piece. The edges were sanded to a polished finish using a wet belt sander.

7” x 10”

photos by Jeff Hoss


JJ Jacobs "Goddess of the Sea"

My 2008 self-portrait contribution is a pate de verre tile measuring 5.5” wide; 4.5” tall; and 1” deep.

I have always been drawn to the ocean and stories about mermaids. Legends describe mermaids who would sing to sailors and enchant them, distract them from their work and cause them to walk off the deck or cause shipwrecks. A mermaid’s affections were not to be toyed with—for if they were, the mermaid would wrap her tail around the victim and drag them to the bottom of the sea. Still--in my mind mermaids are beautiful, kind and loving creatures who love music and who would never harm humans.

Unless,of course, someone deserved it.


Nicole M. Hanna "Self Portrait"

The piece I’ve made for this Self Portrait project is pretty self explanatory, I think! I chose to make an image of myself, surrounded by several, but not all, of the things I enjoy in my life, depicted in cartoon-ish “thought bubbles”. These are the things I think about most, care about most; things that, in general, make me who I am. On the far right are flowers, which represent my love for gardening and nature. Next to that you’ll see a bad rendition of two of my vices, Jack Daniels and cigarettes. Next are three stick figures representing my husband and two sons. The light bulb represents my “aha moments” that I have quite often when an idea strikes me, or I finally “get” something that had previously escaped me, all too often revealing my tendency to be quite “blonde”. The next one depicts the two little loves in my life, my black Chihuahua Spike, and my newest baby, Roxie the Yorkie, whom I recently stole from Faye Malench. Last but not least is a book, representing my love for reading, learning, and writing.

At times I can be quite ornery, so I have that little devil sitting on my shoulder, which is usually responsible for steering me off path. Other times I try to behave, so the little angel gets credit for those times…although, you might notice she’s not a pure white angel…she’s a little tarnished, which explains why I‘m never too well behaved!

My project was done all in glass, which in itself represents my most favorite pastime. I began with two 12” circles of BE Tekta full fused together to attain proper volume. I then used powdered frit mixed with CMC to “paint” on my images. My face, the devil, angel, and light bulb were all done with this method. The thought bubbles were done separately, also done with liquid stringer, but then later tack fused onto the main piece. The book was done using a candy mold and the freeze and fuse method. The hair consists of a base full fuse using liquid stringer and loose frit in Woodland Brown and Amber. Tack fused on top of that is custom made vitrograph stringers, in amber and French vanilla, in an effort to assimilate the varying shades of blonde in my hair. The lips look a little “injected” which is not indicative of my own at all…frit tends to spread when you least want it to! All in all I am pleased with the results, but if I had to do it over again I would have built it on a colored base, and filled in the face area with a skin tone.

Lib Elder "Three Faces of Me"

These images reflect the complexity of self. The first is an open faced cast done as an aperture pour using mostly blues with some greens and purples, and is perhaps the truest representation of my physical self. The cracks and flaws while not planned into the design are certainly apropos, reflecting the cracks and flaws in the facade of "self" that is shown to the world.

The second is float glass slumped over a mold from the same casting and represents the mask that is sometimes worn, and sometimes removed. These two elements can be presented either nested together as a masked face, or apart to reflect true self unmasked, with the mask close at hand.

The third is a box casting again from the same original mold using pieces of clear BE sheet glass to create bubbles, and cast to a depth that leaves the tip of my nose protruding from the surface of the glass with the image of my face in negative space; sort of a "drowning" image, indicative of a feeling of loss of self, of being drowned in outer, worldly concerns, but rising through those concerns to surface whole and intact.

Open faced cast- 9”x5¼”x2½”
Slumped float mask- 12”x12”x2½”
Box cast- 8”x8”x2¼”


Robin Grabowski "Parts of My Heart Icon”

Since this project started my life has gone thru a major unexpected upheaval and of course the piece changed accordingly. I traveled from the quiet of everyday existence thru transformation. Maybe partitioned is the word I want to show where I am.

As far as technique; I wanted to play with glass paint beyond the Glasssline paint I have been using for a few years. I used high fire Paradise and low fire Fusemaster as well as the Glassline and frit layers and have 5 firings involved here. The last firing was a low temp tack fire (took 3 days) to fuse all the elements together and I was very happy that it worked. I was able to use all scrap Bullseye to recycle what would have been thrown away except for the cast heart using different size frits.

19”h x 13”w x 1.5”d
mixed-media glass

Jennifer Frangi "Self Portrait"

I have always looked different in my mind than in real life so all of my self portraits before were always fantastic fire breather, tarot card reading gypsies, and multiarmed Kalis (which is referenced in the background of the self portrait). They were not my real face which seemed too plain and too soft to bear. Everything changed once I had my daughter. Looking at her is like looking back into my own past. She looks so much like me her people mistake old pictures of me for her. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me and seeing the beauty in her made me appreciate and see beauty in myself more.

Materials and process- 8x10 inches kiln formed Bullseye glass with Carefree lusters, Reusche enamels, and Paradise paint. I started by full fusing the different colors together and then again tack fused fired on the luster stars, and paradise paints on the teeth and eyes. Finally I applied tracing black Reusche enamel to the front for outlining and once that was dry I applied bistre brown to the back for shading and tack fired again. Finally I sandblasted the skin to make it stand out be more opaque.

Sheryl R Garrison "Not Board"

Creating a self portrait turned out to be more challenging than I had anticipated. There are so many things that are important to me and that have played a role in who I am today. For this self portrait I decided to focus on the things that feed my soul - the things that might give the viewer a better sense of who I am and where my inspiration comes from.

In order for me to create something I have to feel something for the subject matter. Dogs are the inspiration behind much of my artwork and as for the snowboarding…well I’m just inexplicably drawn to the dance.

Dimensions: Width: 19 3/8” Height: 5 ¼” Depth: 1” including wall mount
Materials: Bullseye Glass, Copper, Ferro Enamels

Patricia Layne Watkins "Places of the Heart"

As we all grow older; aspects of ourselves change. I tend to examine “self” as my eyes see and view my hopes and dreams. In the passing of these two years; many changes have occurred within my family, work, and friends. We quit our jobs, sold our house, and moved to rural Virginia. We live in an old farmhouse with 31 acres.

For me, it is living out a dream of my father’s – refurbishing an old house that lay haunting my father, reminding him that his work was never done. And for me, it is living out a dream of mine from college – teaching young people life skills by trade but a “gentleman farmer” by heart. As the pages turn in our journey; we have 1 jersey bull, 1 billy and 2 nannies with 2 kids. We have inherited 2 cats and 2 dogs. I love my rabbits so much. We have 2 beta fish also. We are developing what we think is the original house on the property into a studio. We were able to put electricity in the studio this summer.

I believe myself to be a portrait of a place – one of comfort and warmth. I am working as an instructor in Special Education for pre-kindergarten. It is very heart-warming for me when the young students look for my arms for reassurance and love. It is very heart-warming for me when my animals follow my husband and /or I; nudging and toying with us for love and security.
I struggled with the presentation of what I thought I was and how I have changed – listened. I have never presented the obvious, unless forced. Once again, I will have frustrated the reader who wanted the facts – just the facts.

The title of the project is “Places of the Heart”. The self-portrait is a well-utilized foot stool with a wool shawl: exemplifying warmth and comfort for any being that comes my way. The clock is acknowledging time; how moments creep in and out - to calm and slow us as we rush and race through the days. The books are binders of memories, stories, visions, and photographs of love and connection within family and friends.

I hope to be this safe haven portrayed; I hope to be wise enough to welcome in my heart’s place anyone going my way.

Description: Frit and Powder matt painting.


Lauri Levanto "Dirty Old Man"

Dirty Old Man is what I see in the mirror. 70 years has worn and wrinkled the surface, contrasting the emerging serenity inside. The piercing eyes look from deep − with wide interest but detached. That's me, apprentice in Art, journeyman of Life. Not unlike the poem of P mustap√§√§:

"Kind of philosopher is Lindblad the tinkere,
He knows the life, Both sides of it,
the gloomy like the bright
He knows the embracing joy
and what is the distress of sorrow
yeah, he knows them."

Technical description
This piece was a challenge to combine drawing and glass. Defined in black and white, shadow and light. You can trace the development of the technique in the lines.

As starting point I had an old oil painting. To transcribe it in glass I tinkered the idea of graphic printing with liquid stringer. A sheet of Tekta was full fused on the plate.

The resulting image is a <1 mm high relief on a matt surface. You can feel a very line.


John Austin ‘haydo’ Hayden “Doing Time, Looking In, Looking Out”

The intention behind this piece was to further explore undercoat backfilled engraving coupled with powders. Most likely this will be the last to incorporate undercoat but will continue work with backfilled engraving. As the piece evolved it became a communication with myself, so a lot of information will be lost to the viewer. The image used captured a sense of patience and focus as opposed to the amusing and shocking ones. The finished piece for me says this along with confronting personal barriers, continued reflection, luck and that like myself is flawed.

Tools/Product - Dremel engraving with black undercoat backfill, bullseye powder, frit and vitrigraph cane. Back sheet having medium white frit to adjust density, remaining two sheets carry the cartooning, shading and background.

Dimensions - 165mm x 220mm x 15mm

Don Burt “Three Suncatchers”

This piece is 6.5” in diameter. It is three disks of clear antique glass tack-fused together and painted with enamels and glass-stainer’s paint. The self-portrait is the lower of the two yellow-skinned figures, probably.

Kevin Midgley “Self Portrait”

4” x 10”

Glass is kiln formed and reverse painted with enamels. I enjoy experimenting with slightly human images in glass and this has been the closest I've come to a self portrait. Kevin Midgley © 2008


Leslie Rowe-Israelson "Don't Fence Me In"

There have been times in my life when I have felt completely closed in. Smothered almost. A period when my inner spirit was not able to soar. It was a "Heavy" burden to bear; and a time when every thing seemed too difficult to rise me out of the weight of the world. But at a time when all else failed, I could turn to my art. This would lift me above the darkness and into the light, allowing the sun to shine on my soul again.

Size: 23" tall x 15" wide x 1/2 " thick
Kiln Cast glass with frit , flat glass and pre-fired
color bars

Alice Benvie Gebhart "Reflection of Self"

This self-portrait was meant to be a record of how I look on the outside and a record of who I am on the inside. What I am, what we all are, is a combination of all life experiences. I have lived over half a century and have grown and changed over those many years. How could the artist in me reveal the many decades of these years of life in a self-portrait?

I decided to take a picture of my middle-aged face and include my reading glasses, changing hair color, and life-wrinkles, not my glamour shot! That was the outside likeness I wanted to present. But the look of me on the outside is not all I am on the inside. I asked myself, “How could I show my “inside” in this self-portrait?”

As an art teacher, I always require my students to write about their artwork. What better way to reveal myself to you than to add a written reflection? Over the last 20 years I’ve kept a journal. I’ve documented of my life in my journal that reveals an ordinary journey, yet one that is specific to myself. I decided to reveal my “inside” by adding journal entries to my self-portrait. I picked out passages that juxtaposed the common with the eventful, the reflective with the superficial. These passages of lines and time surround my likeness in the center. I believe this self-portrait tells a realistic story of the person I am.

Process and Materials
I start with a digital photo and sketch out ideas before picking up any glass. Once I have my design I scan it and print it to size. I approach my work as if I were creating a collage of color with glass. I use Bullseye clear, put the photocopy underneath and then add colored glass. After I’m happy with my glass placement, I fire to full fuse. Lather, rinse, and repeat using smaller glass pieces to create more detailed effects. I layer, build and arrange with glass until I’m happy with the results.

For added detail, texture and value, I paint with Reushe tracing black using the scraffito method. Remember when you were a child and drew a design with beautiful colored crayons then covered it up with black crayon and scratched through to the colors underneath? That’s the technique that I implement in my work and chose to use in areas of this self-portrait.

The writing for this piece was taken from my journal that I’ve kept for many years and is very personal to me. I copied appropriate entries with black Thompson enamel to the reverse side of the clear border. By the way, the writing had to be written as a mirror image in reverse! Tricky!

Stan Harmon “One Technique Too Many - Your Mind on Glass”

Glass addiction is a demanding mistress. There is always one more technique to master, one more tool required, one more idea to try, then another, and another…. until one day it happens, your brain explodes from too much glass!

I keep thinking it could happen any day so I thought a self-portrait might be timely. I live on a beautiful coastal river, so I included it in the background, as I’m usually close by.

A lot of techniques were applied to this con-fused piece of glass. Some of the face was enamel air-brushed and hand painted/sticklited, some powder sifting, frit throwing, etc. Enamel decals saved the day for the lettering and smaller graphics and base layer of the face. I fired late one night and “hurriedly” applied “screen printing” twice in the explosion and had to “sandblast” one of them off the next day, thus requiring an additional unplanned firing. Also used a dremel and diamond bit on one or two places touching up detail between firings. Of course PhotoShop 7 played a large role in the creation of the portrait. I was forced to finally sit down and take the time to learn more about it. I had been holding off learning the advanced stuff due to the decision to switch to Mac, which also kept me from updating to CS3 until the PC switch. Waste brain cells relearning new keyboard commands, not. I also didn’t want to waste my time learning stuff that hopefully will become obsolete in the newer PhotoShop version. Rumors are still indicating the emanate release of MacBook Pro hopefully next month! Or the next….

I'm not used to working directly on a white glass canvas as most of my experience is on clear. Once again I outsmarted myself by placing a 3mm clear irrid , 14in. x 20in. layer of BE on the bottom for shelf release benefits. Then a 3mm layer of BE white for volume control and my canvas. With each firing the detail and work seemed to sink into the white, slowly disappearing before my eyes. I had planned more detail but decided to cut my losses. I think if I had placed the clear on top I could have added more firings and detail without have the white swallowing whatever was on top. Note to self……take more classes!