Sarinda Jones is bewitched by glass.
You can see it in her eyes and hear it in her voice. When her hands gesture purposefully, carving the air with energetic strokes, endeavoring to share the bewitchment, her smile cultivates complicity.
"A minimalist approach," she writes in her artist statement," gives my work a contemporary feel and illuminates the simple beauty of glass."
Jones loves exploring the textures available in the medium, as well as the technical process involved in making glass art.
"One of the processes I use is a Murrini technique often used in Venetian glass blowing (see accompanying box). My experience and training at Pilchuck Glass School in 2003 enabled me to apply this technique to the kiln-formed process."
Glass artist virtuoso Dale Chihuly, co-founder of Pilchuck, met Jones at a 2002 Olympic book signing. She asked the maestro where she could go to learn more about glass and he suggested Pilchuck, a school notorious for its restrictive admission policy.
"Well," she said, "You don't know 'till you try. So I wrote this letter hoping to be accepted, and I was."
Earlier, Jones had studied art history, photography, ceramics and fine art. She dabbled in painting, watercolor, pen and ink, ceramics, photography and silversmithing. "I just went from one medium to the next trying to find my home," she said.
She found it in kiln-formed glass.
"Melting compatible glass together in a kiln creates what is known as warm and fused glass," Jones said. "Temperatures for this process range between 1,100 and 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Additional kiln firings are required for complex arrangements of glass and for molding the kiln-formed glass into a shape."
According to Jones, everything starts with a sketch. "I use a lot of colored pencils. You have to work it out, you know? You have to have a plan to actually execute anything because you have to know how it's going to hang." The drawings and the color combinations help her work out problems before they actually occur.
"You need to know your material very well in order to know how it's going to behave under given circumstances," Jones said. "You have to know the rules in order to bend them when you need to."
While she vigorously tries to control every aspect of a firing, accidents do happen sometimes with wonderful results.
"I've had sculptures that were meant to be triptychs and ended up being in five pieces instead of three, and they were the first thing to sell."
According to Jones, you can't force glass because it almost has a personality of its own. "I'm just the vehicle through which it flows."
When discussing her excitement for glass, Jones admits that "it's all in the chemistry; it's the fact that it's not a solid. It's in a state of liquid at all times; it's sparkly and it's shiny, it's rough and smooth. I collected marbles as a kid and always loved to look at them in the sun."
All of Jones' creations originate in her Reflective Art Studio, 301 E. 1700 South. Originally located in Art Space on Pierpont in 2002, she later moved to Sugar House in order to have more room.
"I've had a studio for six years now," she said. "It's where I do my teaching and have my personal work space."
She also has a small gallery there for exhibiting her glass art.
Her class sizes, of necessity, are small: four to five students. However, Jones would like to arrange it so she could teach eight to 10. She has taught 10- to 12-year-olds and up to hobbyists of retirement age.
"I've also done a teen apprenticeship program with Bad Dog Rediscovers America," she said. "That's the age group I'd really like to get ahold of to teach to show them they have another choice for a medium."
Adamant about not returning to another medium, Jones is nevertheless grateful for her diverse art education.
"Without the painterly background that I have," she said, "I wouldn't be able to do the stuff that I do with glass."
She would, however, like to incorporate glass panels into a painting.
"I haven't figured that out yet, but I'm sure I will."
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