Couple's glass art featured at Stonehedge Gardens
ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS
Presenting their love and passion for glass art, husband and wife Jim and Laurie Christman, have combined their works at a gallery being held at Stonehedge Gardens in South Tamaqua.
"One of my earliest childhood memories was being told we're going to church today," said Jim. "The only thing I remember about that day was being told to turn around and sit still. Now you see I couldn't take my eyes off that beautiful stained glass window in the back of the church. It was huge, dwarfing the parish that sat directly in front of it, staining anything with the sunbeams shining through it with deep purples and brilliant blues.
"I guess that's when I got the bug for the glass," said Jim.
"It wasn't until the late 70s, that I would try my hand at stained glass," he added.
"Finding a class that taught stained glass was next to impossible. Because of this, I am 90 percent self taught. I have, over the years, taken classes from well-known masters on different aspects of the art glass industry. In 2010, I closed the bar and restaurant my wife and I ran for 20 years to concentrate exclusively on my glass art."
Born in 1965 in Bay City, Mich., and raised in Rockledge, Fla., Laurie Christman was introduced to the world of art through painting. Beginning by painting ceramics with her grandmother, her painting quickly moved to larger pieces.
It wasn't long after she began mastering pieces that included oils, acrylics and airbrushing. As a self-taught artist, Laurie has been commissioned to do many popular pieces, including canvas paintings and mural work on motorcycles and car hoods.
In 2009, while spending over a year battling an illness, she decided that she needed a distraction from the pain of 48 weeks of chemotherapy. She joined her talented husband in the world of glass. While focusing primarily on hot glasswork, such as fusing, draping and slumping, she developed a special glass-style lamp that uses olive oil.
Most recently, she has been combining her many years of painting and hot glass by the traditional technique of stained glass found in many churches around the world.
Traditional stained glass is created through finely crushed glass mixed in vinegar to form a paintlike consistency. A shaped piece of glass is coated with the material. Removing the dried mixture, much like a photo negative, the artwork starts to take shape. The glass piece is then fired in a kiln to fuse the glass powder with the glass piece. The process is repeated many times to create depth and detail.
Once completed, the pieces are brought together into copper foiled or lead-stained glass panels.
Last year, Jim and Laurie, who've been together nine years, created their first collaborative piece of art glass entitled "Isabel."
Their newest venture of "Traditional Stained Glass" has brought together the wonderful artwork of husband and wife.
Their artwork will be on display for the next few weeks at the gardens, 51 Dairy Road, Friday to Sunday from noon until 6 p.m.
For more information, visit the garden's website at www.stonehedgegardens.org or call (570) 386-4276.