News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Arts

August 26, 2011

Art Guild features glass artist’s work

Work will be on display Saturday at Block Party, throughout August

TERRE HAUTE — Edith Acton, a lifelong resident of Terre Haute, is the Wabash Valley Art Guild Artist of the Month for August. Her fused glass artwork can be viewed at the Vigo County Public Library and will be on display on Saturday at the Block Party in downtown Terre Haute. 

Acton had been a crafter for most of her life, but as soon as she mastered the various crafts, it would become repetitive and the satisfaction would diminish. About 8 years ago, she tried glass fusion, and discovered the creative aspect of her work and with it the feeling of being an artist.

Her journey to becoming an artist started with a trip to an art festival in Florida. A display of glass wind chimes caught Acton’s attention. The creator of the wind chimes shared some of the basics with Acton. From there Acton found information in books, on the Internet and by experimenting.

Those beginning experiments took about a year before she produced something she felt she could show. At first she designed jewelry and later, wall hangings and night lights, adding that there is no end to the things you can do with glass.  

The constant creative challenge, the “newness” of each creation, inspires Acton. “I love to combine beautiful colors that make people say ‘oooohhhh,’” she says.

The glass fusion process combines different colors of a special “hot” or “warm” glass with a coefficient of 90-96. The glass reference number indicates its rate of shrinkage and melting when heated. Acton prefers to use 96. Most of Acton’s creations are done in stages, requiring several firings, using a variety of colors and layers, or adding specialty items like glass beads or an iridescent glass called dichroic that adds sparkle to several of her creations. The results are often vibrant.

Tools of the trade include glass cutters (Acton finds the pistol handle style easier to hold), a saw and grinder with a water cooling source to prevent sudden breakage, a flat work surface and a kiln. Acton’s kiln is about two feet in diameter and three feet high.

Kiln paper, a specialty item, has two purposes. It does not attach to glass even though it turns into powder during the firing process, so it is used to separate items. Kiln paper also comes in a variety of thicknesses and can shape glass at 1,225 to 1,250 degrees, lower than the fusing temperatures. Acton enthusiastically points out a beautiful creation of blue glass embossed with butterflies while describing the process of “slumping,” her latest experimental adventure in the creative art.

There are three temperature settings to fuse glass. The first, tacking, occurs at 1300 degrees Fahrenheit, and has the appearance of gluing two pieces of glass together. The second level, dimensional surface fusing, softens the edges and partially melts one piece of glass into another. This process takes place at the 1,400 to 1,440 degree range. The third stage, at 1,475 degrees, is a full fuse; one piece of glass is completely melted into another piece and feels very smooth.

Acton currently has her creative glass items on display at Arts Illiana, a few pieces at The Landing, a Wabash Valley restaurant, and the Vigo County Public Library.

She recently displayed at Art in The Park, an annual event put on by the WVAG, and often displays at various art shows in the area. Her enthusiasm for art is obvious and somewhat contagious.

“I simply love art! Whether you are simply a viewer or a creator it is pure enjoyment,” Acton said.

She has won first, second, and third place in past Spring Art Shows for the Wabash Valley Art Guild and River City during the last five years, and also won Grand Champion at the Vigo County Fair two years ago.

Acton can be reached through at DickEdieA@aol.com or through the Wabash Valley Art Guild.

The Wabash Valley Art Guild meets the second Thursday of every month, usually at the main branch of the Public Library. For more information about the Guild or upcoming meetings contact JoAnne Perigo Fiscus at (812) 607-0284 or visit www.wabashvalleyartguild.org.

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