Patricia Doyle of Bella Vista Glass demonstrates her glass fusing technique.

Patricia Doyle of Bella Vista Glass demonstrates her glass fusing technique.

Artisan’s love of glass will never break

Patricia Doyle of Bella Vista Glass shows her fused glass pieces and handcrafted beads at the Okanagan Artisans Guild's 32nd annual show.

It’s been 10 years since Patricia Doyle began to express her love of glass and light by creating unique handcrafted glass beads and fused glass works of art.

About to showcase her work at the Okanagan Artisans Guild 32nd annual show and sale, the glass and jewelry artisan and teacher works from her home studio located on a hillside in Vernon’s Bella Vista area.

There she hones the technique known as lampworking, where a torch is used to heat thin rods of brightly coloured glass to temperatures of more than 1,400 degrees.

“Historically, oil lamps were used to heat the glass, hence the term,” said Doyle. “Although the tools have improved over time, I still apply the same basic techniques that have been used to produce glass beads for more than 2,000 years.”

Doyle’s fused glass works are usually centered on nature and her quirky sense of humour. She uses glass and light to convey her vision of the world being a more harmonious and beautiful place.

Her pieces include northern angels and Aurora Borealis candle holders, which she says pay homage to the many years she spent in the north and her deep love of the magic of the brief northern summer.

Talisman beads are one of the newest additions to her repertoire. They are large-holed focal beads with handmade copper or silver bead caps, and a sterling silver lining to fit on a Pandora, or troll-style bracelet, or to be worn on a simple chain as a necklace.

To create her beads, Doyle uses Effetre (formerly Morretti) glass from Murano, Italy – the same glass used to produce the renowned Venetian glass beads, traded and collected worldwide for more than 1,200 years.

“Effetre glass is the chosen medium for many contemporary glass bead artists, due to its low melting temperature and vibrant colour selection,” said Doyle. “To create each individual glass piece, I stretch, twist and wind the melted glass around a thin steel rod. You will often find a sparkle of 23 karat gold leaf, palladium leaf or aventurine copper in my beads. All beads are slowly and carefully cooled (annealed) in my kiln to maximize stability.”

Doyle also makes glass vessels and platters by fusing shaped, cut glass.

Fused glass is made by taking compatible glasses, cutting, layering and arranging them, then heating them in a kiln until they have fused together. This step is sometimes repeated many times until the desired results occur. The work can then be further altered by placing it above a mold and again firing it, sometimes with very surprising results, said Doyle.

“Fusing glass became a passion while I still lived in the Yukon Territory.  The nature of fused glass allowed a fluidity that stained glass never offered me,” she said. “I mostly choose Bullseye glass because of its vibrant colours and outstanding iridescent coatings.”

Doyle’s vast education in glassmaking includes studying at the famous Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Wash. and at Red Deer College in Alberta. She has also taken various courses at Andrighetti Glass and Silver Art Clay Courses in Los Angeles and has also been studying silversmithing privately with Barrie Edwards and Win Robertson for the past five years.

Doyle herself teaches a beginner’s glass bead-making class, held over two days at her Bella Vista Glass studio, which offers lots of information and hands-on practical application.

“The class offers baby steps into the world of hot glass and exploring one’s own creative life,” she said.

Doyle participates in the forthcoming Okanagan Artisans Guild Show and Sale at the Best Western Vernon Lodge Nov. 25 and 26. Hours are Friday, noon to 9 p.m., and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

For more information on the show, visit www.okanaganartisansguild.com. Information on Doyle is available at www.bellavistaglass.moonfruit.com.

–– This article was submitted by Debbee Poole, a freelance writer out of Cherryville.