BY LISA KOIS
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
August 27, 2014
Glassmaking is not a solitary art. Glass artist Katrina Hude compares it to partner dancing. “It’s nonverbal. You’ve got to follow the music,” says Hude, a Whidbey Island glass artist featured in the Whidbey Working Artists Summer Art Tour.
Hude uses Canework and Murrine in her glass art—complicated 16th century Venetian techniques in which fine threads of vibrant color dance intricately around one another. These threads are stretched and suspended in clear glass rods, which are then cut into shorter rods or cross-sections, fused together, shaped and blown to form glasses, bowls, vases and other works of glass art.
The colors of the cane suspended in motion capture the intricate dance of the glassblowing studio. It is a collaborative process that requires many hands, careful choreography and what Hude describes as “uncommon communication.”
Glass art studios are filled with fiery furnaces and molten glass. It’s hot, sweaty work with the temperatures of the glass being shaped hovering over 1000° Fahrenheit and the temperature of furnaces at least 2000° Fahrenheit.
Artists are in tank tops and shorts, often with bare skin close to extreme temperatures.
Trust and communication are paramount.
Last Sunday during the Tour, Hude worked with an assistant and two others who supported her work to transform 20 or so cut rods of dancing blues and purples into a flattened glass vase. Each member of the team stepped in and out of the process seamlessly, often without a word being exchanged, supporting Hude as she worked.
Glass making can get demanding quickly.
A practice in presence and mindfulness, glass-making requires absolute, undivided attention. Hude appreciates the collaborative process that, she says, “causes you to reflect on yourself, and how you react when something goes wrong. It exposes you.”
Hude’s approach to art making—thoughtful, intelligent, connected and aware—seems to reflect her approach to the world. This is evident in her newest series, “Watering Cans.” With her watering can sculptures, Hude hopes to engage others in dialogue about nature and the preservation of natural resources.
Hude has been thinking a lot about water. Concern creases her face as she describes the way that water has become a commodity controlled by large corporations. In Hude’s art, her concern manifests through symbol, color, shape and texture. “I am a symbol maker,” explains Hude. “Visual objects are my chosen language.”
Whether in her studio or through her art, Hude has a knack for uncommon communication. The soft, delicate lines and warm colors of the glass Watering Cans belie the fire that created them.
The Whidbey Working Artists Summer Tour continues this weekend Aug. 29, 30 and 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This self-guided tour features 27 artists at 18 locations from Oak Harbor to Freeland. The participating artists invite the public to see how and where they create their art. Art mediums include pottery wheels, looms, liquid glass, wet paint, wood and clay. For more information visit www.whidbeyworkingartists.com.
Image at top: Katrina Hude and her assistant at work. (photo by David Welton)
After 13 years in South Asia working as a human rights lawyer, writer and documentary filmmaker, Lisa Kois returned to Whidbey Island with her daughter and founded Calyx Community Arts School, the 347-acre classroom at South Whidbey State Park. She believes passionately in the transformative powers of nature and the arts.
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