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Location:
Indianapolis
Medium:
Non-traditional stained glass/mixed media
Availability:
Petter Gallery, Saugatuck, Mich.
Artistica Gallery, Wabash, Ind.
FEATURED WORK
Cathy Claycomb

“If you are familiar with my work or my classes, you know my glass usually contains an engineering challenge,” Cathy says. “I use each one to introduce a new look, a technique that pushes the envelope of what is already on the market.”

Some say their art fills a hole in their soul. For Cathy Claycomb, more than 20 years ago, her career as an artist started by filling a hole in her wall. “We were building a second-floor master suite, and I wanted a stained glass window at the top of the stairs,” she said. “I told the contractor the size of the opening I wanted and enrolled in beginning classes at a stained glass shop,” says the woman who talks more like an engineer than an artist.

“I started to develop my signature techniques in 1994,” Cathy said. “At first, I hesitated to call myself an artist. Now I am among the top 17 percent of those juried: the best Indiana has to offer,” she says of Indiana Artisan. Since the State created Indiana Artisan in 2008, 17 percent of the nearly 2,300 applicants have been recognized for being at the height of their craft.

After Cathy’s window was installed in her home, “A few years later, the muse on my shoulder chewed my ear and kept repeating, “What if… , Could you do…., Isn’t that an interesting raw material? Everything changed after that,” she said.

“I started as a fine art oil painter. During a tour at Kokomo Opalescent Glass factory in Kokomo, I fell in love with the glass. I am inspired by the glorious color, how it could be worked together and particularly the headglass, which is the leading edge as it comes through the rollers in its molten state. The epiphany of that part of the glass being my new “canvas” sent me on my way.”

Cathy says her work explores nontraditional and one-of-a-kind materials and the development of the engineering necessary to push the boundaries of their use. “The integrity of fabrication is by far the most interesting facet of my work,” she says. “I am fascinated with the problem-solving aspects of the materials.”

She credits the challenges of her material, and her problem-solving skills, as the elements that make her work unique. “They impact my technique,” she says. “That doesn’t change. It’s better to say my technique is refined with each piece. As I attempt to develop the next signature technique, the elements allow my ever-changing work to maintain a no holds barred freshness in a medium that normally relies on square or round perimeters.”

Looking back on the launch of her career, Cathy says, “I find it fortuitous and divinely inspiring that a glass factory that produces the best materials of that type in the industry is only 90 minutes from my home.”

And of her application to Indiana Artisan, she says, “I had no idea what the impact of this designation might mean. It was not until I was juried in and participated in the annual Marketplace that I realized I was being introduced to a new market. Even though I had participated in many larger art shows over the years, patrons of this show appreciated and purchased my work. The show itself is a destination where patrons attend specifically to purchase artwork – the best artwork in the state. And as I came to learn, the top 17 percent of the art and foods created in Indiana today.”

When not creating her work, Cathy teaches it. “Except for my students, no one does stained glass as I do,” she says. “If you are familiar with my work or my classes, you know that my glass usually contains an engineering challenge,” she says. “I use each one to introduce a new look, a technique that pushes the envelope of what is already on the market, or a new design. Many times the venue demands the challenge, such as a curved wall, no light transmission or an extraordinary installation issue. I enjoy solving those: the subsequent design and presentation, the pitch, the client contact; all of that, perhaps more than the fabrication of the glass work itself.”

Across the country, students have an opportunity to attend classes Cathy teaches on a total of 15 different techniques, and of those experiences she says, “I am constantly amazed at how creative a group of people can be when they move off the starting line with all the same instructions and finish with such unique work.”

Cathy’s teaching has twice led to her emceeing the Kay Bain Weiner Annual Glass Cruise. She has been featured in worldwide webinars produced by Glass Patterns Quarterly. She is the author of “Hidden Images in Glass”, “Sticks and Stones”, and “Working with Solderfields” videos describing her unique copper foil overlay soldering, open sided construction and bronzing techniques. A contributing editor to “Glass Craftsman” magazine, “Profitable Glass” magazine, “Glass Patterns Quarterly,” and “Glass Art Magazine,” her work also has been featured in these publications, in addition to “Art in Motion” and “Creative Designing: Innovative Glass Art.”

Her initial work filled a hole in her wall, which led to a career that clearly fills her soul. Of all things in her life, however, it’s easy to imagine her calendar being the thing that’s most filled, and it sounds like Cathy likes things that way.