(Artwork by Deb Borine)
For fused glassmaker Deb Borine, the pandemic has been a time for experimentation. She has always been known for her vivid glass landscapes and colorful bowls and garlic plates. Recently, she has also added glass casting to her repertoire to make paperweights and small hearts that appeal to people who love the look and feel of something smooth and glossy in their hands. Her work is showcased at Red Chair Gallery in March.
Glass casting is a complicated process. First, Borine coats a ceramic mold with a primer to prevent the glass from sticking to the mold. Then she mixes fine colored glass frit with a liquid gel to form a crust that she presses into the bottom of the mold. Sometimes she adds glow powder and then the mold is filled with a mixture of colored and clear glass frit and fired in the kiln. The result is a little chunk of softly colored light.
Borine’s glass landscapes often show birch or aspen trees in multi-hued sunsets. For the trees, she prefires two sheets of glass in two different colors and then cuts outs the trunks. Then she lays the trees on the kiln shelf and applies frit to create leaves and sunset streaks and fuses the whole thing together. Recently, she has been experimenting with fine powdered glass frit to create hazy or misty backgrounds to change the mood. One piece that shows fir trees in a wintry mist “took me hours and hours of work,” she recalls.
Borine has also been working with reactive glass — glass which contains lead, copper or sulfur/selenium and which change color when they come into contact under heat — to create new and sometimes unpredictable colors for her pieces. She has used some of these colors for her channel plates (long slim plates for cheese or bread) and sushi sets.
A typical firing takes 12-14 hours and her computerized kiln carefully regulates the heat for annealing so it slowly rises to 1480 degrees and then gradually decreases again. The thicker the glass, the longer the firing takes. Her simple, but elegant, garlic plates require three firings: one to create the base, one for the added frit and the last to slump the piece in a mold. It’s a laborious process that results in brilliant glass creations.
A Bend resident since 1978, Borine always had a creative bent and worked with many art forms, including stained glass, basket weaving, quilting, fiber art, metal art and jewelry. But nothing captivated her more than fused glass. “Once I found glass, that was it for me,” she says.
In 2007, she started taking classes taught by Kate McLeod, who owned Glass Symphony, an art glass shop on Wall Street. The landlord asked McLeod to design a stained glass panel for a space above the doorway, which she did with Borine’s collaboration. It’s still there although the space at 916 NW Wall St. is now occupied by another business. Borine worked at Glass Symphony for two years, selling her glass pieces there until it closed in 2009 during the Great Recession. She became a member of Red Chair Gallery shortly after that. Besides exhibiting her work there, she is also available to make custom pieces.
Contact Deb Borine at her email: firstname.lastname@example.org