Member Gallery Interview - October

Email by Elizabeth Steinebach on October 14, 2009
Categories Filed Under: NEWS

Member Gallery Interview - October Image

Sue Firpo - New work using vintage Bullseye glass

Welcome Sue Firpo.

How was it that you started working with stained glass?

I started with a class about 16 years ago. A friend of mine asked me to donate the first window that I made to a school auction. The piece was a hit and got bid up at the auction. I got a lot of feedback from the people at the auction that made me think that I should continue making stained glass. A couple of years later, I did a trade with someone. I made them windows and they made me a website. The website sort of took off and I transitioned from a stained glass hobbyist to a stained glass professional.

Where does the inspiration for designs/work come from?

Architecture. I have a degree in architecture and have my own design practice as well as the stained glass business. Many of my patterns are inspired from my travels while I was an architecture student in the 1980's. I studied overseas and many of my stained glass patterns are derived from tile patterns or stucco patterns that I saw on the walls, floors, and ceilings of the buildings that I visited .

Who influenced you the most, or helped you along the way?

I am really drawn to the work that I see by the stained glass artists from the late 1800's and early 1900's, especially La Farge and Tiffany.

But really, on a day to day basis, I am influenced by all of the people that I have taken classes and workshops from, and by all of the people that I have had work with me in my studio.

When have you ever been frustrated/disappointed with the material?

I haven't been disappointed, but I do think that it is very challenging to use stained glass in an interior installation. I mean… an installation not lit by natural light. An interior piece needs to be creatively lit and well lit in order for the glass to show well. I find artificial light incredibly challenging. And since, I do a lot of intricate patterns that use a lot of lead and copper foil, light really needs to wash one whole side so that the glass glows. Otherwise, the lead/foil lines can take over and the piece can come off looking heavy or a bit "leady".

What is your favorite glass and why? How did you use it?

I love glass with depth and texture. I use a lot of Youghiogheny stipple glass for art glass and Lambert's makes a mouth blown cathedral glass that really looks antique because it has so much depth to it.

But here is my most recent spectacular glass "score"… A few months ago, I bought a truck load of old Bullseye glass from someone who used to work there in the 1970's. She was clearing out the barn on her property where she had been storing the glass for all those years. She said most of the sheets were products of experiments as the company was perfecting their methods of glass making. The glass is absolutely gorgeous with tons of mottling and rich deep colors and unusual blue-gold-aquas. Bullseye doesn't make most of this glass anymore ( though I recognize some that they still do make), though it all has very distinctive Bullseye characteristics to it.