Web lets artist be glass act

The art form, which involves fusing layers of glass using a kiln, is especially popular in the Northwest, but there are only a handful of serious glass fusers in Maine and even fewer resources for beginning artists.

So Caddell turned to the Internet, and what she found was not only some help, but an extended network of artists willing to support and nurture her budding interest.

"It's been a godsend," Caddell said of www.warmglass.com, a Web site devoted to warm glass artists. "Everybody helps each other. It's like a big family."

The site, maintained by another artist, Brad Walker of Clemmons, N.C., is a virtual artist's colony where other glass fusers can share their expertise with their counterparts across the globe.

Using online bulletin boards, Caddell said, she can post a question and receive at least three responses in 10 minutes. The help, she said, has been invaluable to her, because she describes herself as a "newbie" to the art form.

When she began exploring warm glass last spring, Caddell said, she was disappointed to find that there were few classes offered in the state for warm glass.

"We're kind of at a disadvantage here on the East Coast," she said. The real "scene" is mostly in Oregon and the rest of the Northwest, she said, although there are many active artists in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., area.

People who use the site not only share tips and tricks of the trade, they share their own art as well.

Recently, Caddell and three other Maine glass fusers participated in the 2nd Annual Fridge Art Swap, where each of the 118 artists who use the site sent in 118 pieces of their work.

The pieces were then sorted, and each person in the swap received a package containing 118 different 2-by-2-inch pieces of art. The pieces are magnet-sized, but were sent without magnets to cut down on the shipping weight.

Caddell sent an image of a whale fin appearing from the ocean for her contribution.

"This was a way we could send a little piece of ourselves to each other," she said.

Pam Damon of Cumberland is another Maine artist who participated in the swap. She is also a devoted www.warmglass.com user and owns her own business, Beaded Iris.

"It's an excellent learning tool," she said of the site. "Before I did glass, I was a weaver for about 20 years. Lots of times if you admired someone's work, they didn't want to give away their secrets. But (on the warm glass site), people are very, very open and willing to share."

Caddell recently opened her own business, Gravity Glass, and is searching for stores to sell her pieces. In the fall, she hopes to go to Oregon to the Warm Glass Weekend, a retreat organized by people on the Web site.

Beyond offering technical advice, Caddell said, the site provided her an outlet for her to share her creativity with other artists.

"You're able to talk to people who do the same things you're doing," she said. "It's great to just be able to talk to people who understand what you're doing."

600450 Web lets artist be glass act glassonweb.com

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