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Fused Glass
Liz Perr-McColm

“I received a piece of St. Clair glass as a wedding gift, and I was determined to have my own fused glass studio one day, Then I met Dale Chihuly, and not more than a year later I was in a fused glass course.”

That motivational phrase about “the carrot OR the stick” would apply to Liz Perr-McColm if “or” is replaced with “and.”

The carrot had been a lifelong fascination with, and love of, glass. For glass lovers, especially Hoosier glass lovers, owning a piece of the storied St. Clair glass might be enough inspiration to explore the craft, but Liz was doubly motivated after meeting Dale Chihuly, one of the world’s living greats in the medium.

“I received a piece of St. Clair glass as a wedding gift, and I was determined to have my own fused glass studio one day,” Liz said. “Then I met Dale Chihuly on one of his visits to Columbus, Indiana, and not more than a year later I was in a fused glass course at the Garfield Arts Center. Everything else is self-taught,” and from the sound of it Liz is ready to teach.

The stick, or what got her off the stick and in pursuit of her dream, was cancer. “Having been diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer and surviving chemo and radiation, I decided to take early retirement as a graphic designer and pursue the art of fused glass full time,” she said.

She was waiting on the outcome of her treatments when she applied to Indiana Artisan, and she got good news about both at nearly the same time.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate to be physically able to pursue my art and to have applied to Indiana Artisan,” she said. “To quote my oncologist ‘The universe must have something else in store for you. You are in the top one percent survival rate for this type of cancer.’” That inspired her, and her talent with glass inspires her more.

Liz says she is constantly experimenting with different techniques and color combinations. “I believe the use of eye-catching color is just as important as composition,” she says. “The endless combinations of glass color inspire me, and while the techniques used in fusing glass are endless, I use a screenmelting technique and my own form of Pate de Verre, or glass paste.” The result is always colorful and oftentimes lifelike and decorative in a way that is unusual for glasswork.

“Besides the joy of the physical process, I am truly humbled by the emotion expressed by others when they see my work,” Liz said. And while there are no carrots, nor sticks, among the pieces she creates, she says, “I consider my work to be a true reflection of my soul – ever fascinated with what Mother Nature produces and the organic beauty of the world around me. Aesthetically, my goal is to evoke a memory or emotion from the person looking at my work – finding starfish on the beach on a family vacation; hiking up a mountain; or recalling the colors of a beautiful sunrise or sunset.”

Asked why she applied to Indiana Artisan, she said, “I have developed an attitude that there’s no time like the present, and at the time I quite honestly didn’t know if I would be able to apply in the future.” Asked what the success meant to her, with a relaxed smile she said, “I got to cross off another item on my Bucket List. I’m very proud to be here, to be able to pursue my art and to be a part of Indiana Artisan. I am one lucky lady.”