In 2007, American Made Show artist Diane Quarles left her career in city planning and began working on her own glass art business full-time. Inspired by her experience with oil painting and working in stained glass years earlier, she found the courage to acknowledge her love of creating and working with her hands. Quarles explains, “There came a time in my life when I just knew that I needed to embrace it full-time or give up the dream. I chose to dream.”
About a year into her adventure, she was introduced to a technique new to the kiln-formed glass scene. Frit is glass that has been crushed into tiny bits ranging in size from very fine powder to course granules. Artists began using this substance to create “painted” glass artwork. “As soon as I saw the opportunity to marry glass and painting, I knew I had found my calling,” recalls Quarles.
The artist describes frit painting as knowing how to balance fine art with the rigorous technical skills required in producing kiln-formed glass. “I love walking the line between fine craft and fine art.”
Quarles has spent a lot of time, money and energy on perfecting her kiln-formed glass skills. Her art work consistently presents challenges that keep her engaged and always wanting to know and understand more about warm glass behavior.
She begins each new piece by first sketching it out until she understands the intricacy of its colors, depth, light and textures. It is a process that takes careful thought and planning. “Often I will make a prototype in smaller scale first so I can figure out the kiln-firing schedules before I take on the final piece,” Quarles explains. “Glass is expensive and it is important to have the details down when you take on the large work.”
Her style is organic and reminiscent of Impressionism, with designs inspired by being immersed in the beauty of Southwestern Colorado. Quarles’ products range from sculpture to holiday ornaments. Her newest product line, Earthfire Arts Glass, is a limited-edition collaboration between herself and artist Anne Cheeks. “No two pieces are ever identical. That is the nature of glass.”
Company Name: Aspen Light Glass Studio
Studio Location: Ridgway, CO