Kandyse Whitney of Blue Fox Glass loves glass. She’s an artist who fuses glass into beautiful and useful pieces such as dishes, pendants, memory boxes, coasters, and night lights. But the pieces are more than that. They are like windows through which she shares her sense of color, beauty and creativity, and through which we can see her.
Reflecting Glass: When Kandyse talks of her work with glass, you can almost see it reflecting in her eyes. She speaks of glass like it’s part of who she is. When choosing the colors and sheets of glass to work with, it’s as if the glass is speaking to her. Kandyse remarks she has quite an assortment of glass in her studio waiting to come to life. A particular run of glass beckons, and she knows it belongs with her.
The Puzzle: When fusing glass, Kandyse starts with sheets of both clear and colored glass. While the glass is room temperature, she cuts the colored glass with a scoring tool into pieces and shapes. She then puts those pieces on the clear glass and heats them in a kiln, where the glass fuses together. It reminds her of jigsaw puzzles, she says, carefully placing each piece to create the picture you want.
A Sense of Design: But unlike a puzzle, there’s no picture to start from. This is not fusing glass by number. Kandyse designs what makes sense for the glass and its colors. Kandyse designs using a technique she’s currently interested in, such as sunbursts or cobblestones. Kandyse tells me she can’t really figure out what’s going to sell ahead of time, so she just makes what she wants.
Glass Limits: Interestingly enough, I learned that glass always wants to be a consistent thickness, and it always comes out flat, unless constrained in a mold. To me, this puts an intriguing constraint on anyone working with glass. Kandyse creates different shapes of glass by putting the glass back into the kiln at a lower temperature, using molds to form the shapes.
“Yes I Can”: Kandyse started working with glass as a hobby about 25 years ago. She had a colleague who made stained glass, and Kandyse thought, “I can do that.” So she took a class and started creating stained glass for fun. Soon, she started selling her pieces at shows and consignment shops, hoping her hobby would support itself.
Missing Glass: Because of moves and the lack of good studio space, Kandyse took a break from working with glass for awhile, but she missed it too much. So she bought a kiln and started fusing glass about six years ago. She met someone who owned a glass supply business, researched glass fusing, and just started playing around. Kandyse says one of the joys of working with fused glass is that there’s no waste. She can always put the glass to use in another piece.
Expressions: Kandyse explains she feels a conflict between the practical and the artist within her. She likes fused glass partly because she makes pieces that can be used in daily life. I sense more that she’s fusing these two sides of herself together. I think she likes the designing and piecing the glass together into something beautiful and useful. When asked, Kandyse admits she toys with the idea of learning to blow glass. I think she will someday. It’s one more way for her to get to know glass and to express herself through it.
Uniquely Portland: Working exclusively with glass made here in Portland at Bullseye Glass, Kandyse is a local Portland artisan in the truest sense. She often picks up sheets of glass from one-time special productions with different and unique colors. Using this glass makes her work one of a kind. No two pieces are really the same.
Finding Blue Fox Glass: After moving to back Portland, Kandyse found Artistic Portland, an artist cooperative in town. The Coop turned out to be a good place to sell her pieces. Kandyse now pursues her art as her profession, and has set up shop on Etsy as well. Learn more about Kandyse at Artistic Portland, on Facebook, and her website.