How fused glass frees the spirit

Tammy Hudgeon bringing open mind back to painting for TOSH show

Fused glass work, as well as paintings by Tammy Hudgeon will be on display at TOSH starting Aug. 8. — Submitted by Tammy Hudgeon

You might think creating art in a 15 cm by 15 cm space would be pretty limiting.

But it was just the opposite for multimedia artist Tammy Hudgeon.

From her first foray into fused glass using a 15 cm by 15 cm kiln, Hudgeon said the experience was freeing, and helped to change her perspective on art.

That same free-spirited, untamed feeling will be evident in her exhibition at TOSH, she said, which runs from Aug. 8 to Sept. 2.

“I had so many limiting beliefs about art and being an artist,” she said. “I tell ya, it’s been a journey.”

Hudgeon began that journey with painting on wood — building stools and bird houses and painting them.

But glass was a new medium she wanted to try out, so she started with stained glass.

“I love the look of coloured glass,” she said, though added that working in stained glass “was a little bit of a challenging medium for me.”

She was taught to make stained glass from templates, and found the process limiting — requiring too much precision, and not enough space for spontaneity.

But stained glass nonetheless provided a road to learning about fused glass.

Whereas stained glass uses lead to hold together pieces of glass, fused glasswork has the artist melt pieces of glass together into a kiln.

A less common art when Hudgeon learned it 17 years ago, she said fused glass freed her from a reliance on precision.

“I used to judge myself for that. Like ‘if you can’t be precise, then you can never be an artist,’ or some silly thing like that. Fused glass just broke that open for me,” she said, even though her first fused glass kiln was 15 cm by 15 cm.

“I didn’t have to have borders and limits. Any shape I could design, I could potentially make if I wanted to,” she said.

Over the years, Hudgeon has gone from making fused glass bowls to designs of animals, abstract work, and glass and steel sculptures, she said.

One of her approximately 25 pieces at TOSH is a life-sized sculpture of a bird-woman, with a steel skeleton that she has made for her to her specifications.

“She’s a powerful bird woman … she’s got a head dress and glass feathers hanging down from her wings,” said Hudgeon. “Her wings kind of come out from the side in a bit of a curve, so it looks like she’s holding (or) embracing.”

However, this new show will also feature some of Hudgeon’s new painting work as well, which, despite being a very different medium than her other work, still retain that wild and free spirit that fused glass helped her to cultivate.

“I’m excited to see the whole show together,” said Hudgeon.

The exhibition is the third running at TOSH from Aug. 8 to Sept. 2, with an opening reception on Aug. 9 at 2 p.m.

For more information, go to www.theoldschoolhouse.org/.