There was a time when I used to scour thrift stores for cool stuff. It was something I did to pass the time between elementary school drop offs and pickups. And I don’t know if I’m being nostalgic here but I think my finds in those days were pretty amazing; I still have an Indonesian hand-carved, 3 panel teak screen (in storage in the basement) and several cream coloured English earthenware bowls that I love (I have a thing about bowls). I used to find gorgeous picture frames and cool ornaments that I still have on display all these years later.
Twenty five years on, if I go into a thrift store all I see is junk. Maker Amber Cowen though sees potential.
Cowen has been sculpting glass for 15 years. She has a BFA in 3D design and an MFA in glass/ceramics. She uses techniques like ‘flame working’ (sculpting glass by twirling thin rods of coloured glass over a gas-oxygen burner), blowing and hot-sculpting (hot glass shaped with blades, knives, shears and paddles). But the cool thing (pardon the pun) about her work is that she sources her material (usually American pressed glass) from thrift stores and flea markets and sometimes post production factory runs.
So all those glass ornaments and jugs and dishes that I’d call useless are given new life in these outlandish yet beautiful sculptures. Who knew?