Robbi La Londe - Featured Artist Sep. & Oct. 2022
For the Love of Translucent Color
My fascination with glass was probably sparked around age 5 by visits to cathedrals in Europe, where I marveled at magnificent stained glass windows and the glowing colors shining through them. Or perhaps it was watching demonstrations of glass blowing in Murano Italy during that same tour that really got me hooked. Looking back, I can see how the varied arts of glass-work became a recurring theme and continuing source of inspiration throughout my creative life. Here’s a timeline of how it happened:
At age 16, I apprenticed with a glass artist who taught me to make flowers and small animals with clear Pyrex (Borosilicate) glass rods to be sold through his shop in Las Vegas.
Then in 1984, I took several workshops in designing and constructing stained glass creations with lead channel and copper wrapping techniques and completed numerous pieces with so much enjoyment. This is also when I began studying watercolor painting and my fascination with transparent color took a different direction that became my full time profession for 12 years upon moving to The Big Island of Hawaii in 1986.
In 1991-1992, while still living on the Big Island, I trained with renowned glass artist Stacy Siegel. She taught me to make lamp-work beads created by melting Murano glass rods with a small torch while wrap- ping the molten glass around a stainless steel rod, constantly rotating the rod to keep the bead round, while dabbing additional melted colors onto the forming bead to create patterns or simply swirled colors. I used the beads to make earrings and necklaces.
My very first sea-glass necklace came about in 2008 with a morsel of glass found near the Channel Islands Marina in Ventura, California, but watercolor painting remained my primary medium until 2011 when my life took a very interesting turn. It was while living in the French Caribbean on the tiny island of Marie-Galante for a year, that I happened upon a beach which was completely covered in sea glass of all sizes- I was captivated and immediately inspired to begin creating. I started making jewelry, wind-chimes, lamps and mosaics with these gems. The shear quantity of glass made it possible to keep only the most impressive samples and to match similar sizes and shapes for symmetrical designs.
Fast forward to 2022 and becoming a member of Splash Gallery, which has offered me a fresh opportunity to create one-of-a-kind pieces using authentic sea glass from my treasured collection. The shape of each piece of glass is completely natural and just as I found it on that beach, except for the holes I sometimes drill through them. My creations begin with sorting through sea glass that has been previously grouped by color and choosing the individual pieces that will be used for an intended project. Frequently a completely new project is inspired by what I discover during this preparation. Individual pieces suggest what they should be made into and by what methods, along with the metal that should be used to support them. Each time I go through this process I feel humbled by the miracle of possessing these jewels. My work is always informed by my respect for these colorful fragments of human history and my desire to show them off in a way they can be fully appreciated for their uniqueness.
I have received so much support and encouragement from my fellow artists at Splash to try new things and to make only exactly what I am personally inspired to create. This has expanded my work into completely new directions with my recent pendant and standing mobiles. I am truly honored to be a Splash Featured artist starting September 1st. Stop in soon to see how my artistic journey has evolved!