About the Artist

Leslie at Touchstone

I find the process of beadmaking is almost meditative. I enjoy the solitary nature of working on a torch, and the endless mutability and experimentation allowed by the glass medium. I enjoy the personal size and detail of flameworked glass, and the challenge of making wearable, yet exciting pieces.

Being a glass beadmaker means that you are always making components of a larger piece. Sometimes the pieces are designed as part of an imagined whole, and sometimes the finished product is totally inspired by one bead. Often, your works are sold individually to other jewelry makers who use your inspiration to create wholly new and unexpected objects, lending their interpretation to your art. I find a richness in beadmaking, creating objects that can stand alone, but usually do not, creating a chain of creativity that only ends when the wearer of the piece makes their own creative choices of adornment.

poppies-crop

I have two directions I have been exploring in my flameworking. The first applies sculptural techniques in borosilicate glass to a bead form. Some aspects of borosilicate glass color are best developed with sculptural forms, and I have been experimenting with wearable glass sculpture. Secondly, I have begun to focus on the design of the whole necklace first, rather than letting the design of a particular bead drive the process. My most recent designs draw on my deep horticultural interest, and I have been exploring abstract flower forms. Some have compared my glass jewelry to tiny, wearable ‘Chihuly’ sculptures.

I find that the physical act of glass beadmaking stretches me: each time I feel that I reach a technical or artistic impasse, the ‘making’ process frees me up and moves me forward. Inspirational teachers and beadmaking colleagues provide essential challenges and support.

kaplan_leslie_2

Education and Experience

In an integrated life, all experience and knowledge combine to flower in new and unexpected ways. I hold degrees in History and City Planning, but have forsaken those disciplines for the art forms flameworking, glass beadmaking, (and garden design). I became interested in beadmaking when I began to string beads to make jewelry. I reveled in the intricate colors and patterns of art lampwork beads and began to learn to create my own. In 2000 I took a weeklong workshop at Touchstone Center for Crafts, and was completely hooked

I have studied with Mike Mangiafico, Stevi Belle, Kate Fowle Meleney, Barbara Becker Simon, Tim Drier, and Doug Remschneider among others. I am a full member of the Pittsburgh Craftsmen’s Guild, and the president of the Three Rivers Glass Beadmakers, a chapter of the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB). I earned the Glass Alchemy Teachers Certification.

My work has been selected for all five ‘Glass Birthday Suit’ exhibits at the Pittsburgh Glass Center and the 2008 juried show, ‘Steel and Glass’. My work has also been exhibited at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in the 2005 ISGB juried jewelry show ‘Rivers of Glass’, and the jewelry show of the ISGB in the Sherry Leedy Gallery in Kansas City in 2006. My work has also been shown in a June 2007 exhibit of glass jewelry the Touchstone Center for Crafts, and in a October 2007 Three Rivers Glass Beadmakers exhibit at the Laurel Arts Center in Somerset PA.  In 2009, my work was chosen for the ‘Innovations in Glass Beads’ exhibit  in Corning, New York.    My necklace ‘Harvest’  was juried into the ‘Convergence’ exhibit and was shown at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee, WI, the Ohio Glass Museum in Lancaster OH, and the Windisch Hunt Fine Arts Gallery in Coconut Grove, FL.   ‘Harvest’ was also featured in the Bead and Button publication ‘Jewelry Designs with Art Glass Beads’ which was published in October 2009.

Embodiment Exhibit

“Lets put on a show!”

In December of 2016, the Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC) put out a call for proposals for exhibits for the next year.  During a day of slow sales at the annual PGC Holiday Sale, a few members of the Three Rivers Glass Beadmakers (3RGB) decided to pursue the idea staging a national juried glass jewelry show to promote flameworking.   We thought this would give 3RGB a purpose and focus for the next year, and we were right!

Our chapter met in January, and batted around ideas about a theme, exhibit name, practicalities, and responsibilities.  We came up with some answers and even more questions.  I wrote the proposal for the exhibit and the PGC was enthusiastic, saying that this would be the first show in their 16-year history to showcase only glass wearables.  The show date was set for Oct 6 – Nov 15, 2017.

We named the show ‘embodiment’, a juried glass jewelry and wearables show.  We expanded the original concept to include any kind of artist made glass – as long as it was wearable.  The name and theme were very important to us; the concept was that artists would ‘embody’ an idea or concept in glass.   This connection became one of our jury criteria, and we planned to display the statements with the entries.

The Pittsburgh Glass Center was an enthusiastic and capable partner in the development and funding of this show.  Diana Dugina(3RGB) designed the gorgeous Call for Entries postcard and the PGC paid for the printing.  We wanted to get the word out into the lampworking community early on to get people thinking and working.   The ISGB agreed to let us put the postcard into the Gathering Packets, and distributed the cards at Bead and Button.  We used Facebook to publicize the call for entries, especially the ISGB members pages, and approached individual artists who might promote the exhibit in their classes.  We emailed the leadership of all the chapters.  The PGC printed posters (designed by Diana Dugina) and sent them out to Glass Schools around the country.  The PGC sent out email blasts, and had links to the show entry site on its website. 

One of the best decisions we made was to use ArtCall.org.   For a very reasonable fee, they took all our information and set up a website for entries.  It had our image, the full description of the show, timeline, award info and contacts.   It linked to the online application form, and the picture download system.  Our three jurors were able to remotely review the entries before the final cut. 

We originally charged an entry fee but removed it to encourage more entries. We received almost all our entries in the last month, surprise!  We received 115 entries from 55 different artists, representing 18 states and 6 other countries.  The jury (one 3RGB member, and the exec directors from the PGC and the Society of Contemporary Crafts) chose 68 works by 46 artists.  The work represented the gamut of glass expression:  stained glass, flamework, cast, hot, cold worked and kiln work.  Our chapter awarded two cash prize for best flamework:  First prize to Floor Kaspers for ‘Into the Wild’, and second place to Linda Newnham for ‘Helios’.   The Pittsburgh Glass Center awarded two scholarships:  quirky cast work by Lou Kreuger and Alexandra Fresch for ‘Ethereal’, a set of networked wings. 

Most of our members were involved: they publicized the call for entries, sat on the jury, unpacked work and hung the show, organized the opening reception, provided food and drink, demonstrated, funded awards, did a fine educational exhibit, helped take down the show and repack the work.  3RGB is grateful for the support and encouragement of the PGC throughout the process, and for the many artists who submitted their beautiful, thoughtful work to ‘embodiment’. 

Other Awards

In 2018 Leslie was juried into Master Status with the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.