Fused Glass Artist - Helen Rudy

Fused Glass Artist - Helen Rudy Born in Liberia, West Africa to English and Welsh parents, Helen's varied childhood contributed to her early appreciation for design, color and texture. After growing up in a working Welsh pub, Helen became a Royal Chartered Surveyor, bringing her in contact with the ancient cities in the north of England. With her passion for travel, Helen could be found cycling between the remote religious forts in Bhutan and Tibet, trekking with Berber craftsmen in the high Atlas Mountains of Morocco and exploring the visual elements of the Hmong weavers along the Chinese border of Vietnam. East Africa holds a special place in her heart; she met her husband cycling near Kilimanjaro. The bold and bright colors of the Serengeti and Masai figure prominently in her work. She moved to the US in 2002 and resides in Denver.

Helen's exploration of the medium of glass began with her move to the US. Upon visiting a friend's glass workshop, she was mesmerized by the myriad of possibilities of color, form, texture and light transmission possible in every combination of glass. An initial reaction to the bold and bright colorful designs is amazement, closely followed by the question "Are those colors painted on?" The elements of color and design were only half of her interest, as fused/kiln glass requires a rigorous understanding of its technical properties. It is her construction background that lends itself well to understanding the technical complexities of melting and transforming glass. Ten years later, Helen's work has transformed from colorful practical pieces to chandeliers, tables, as well as sculpture and installation art.

Helen focuses on kiln fused glass. The glass designs are constructed piece by piece, and then melted in a kiln to 1460F and above where it becomes liquid. After cooling and annealing a solid piece of glass has been made. The glass is often fired a second or third time to create 3D shapes. Sometimes the glass is layered like a cheese sandwich and melted together. Other times thin strips of glass are placed on edge like dominoes and fired together. Both techniques enable her to create strong bold designs and distinctive color placement. The designs are created to take the best advantage that light can bring to a piece. Often a pattern will change as you view it from different angles depending upon where the light comes through.

Helen's work is featured in some of the finest contemporary American glass galleries, including the Pismo Galleries, Philabaum Gallery and the Denver Art Museum gallery. Her commissions include structural glass panels, light fixtures and glass furniture from clients in the US, Europe, South America and Australia. She was recently honored with a commission by the board of directors of the Denver Art Museum to create glass tributes honoring the museum's most significant benefactors.

Helen has studied at the Pilchuck School of Glass and studied with Milon Townsend and Lisa Voigt. These concentrated classes have helped her tremendously; essentially however, Helen has learnt her technique one disaster or beautiful miracle at a time. Her studio is small and well-equipped. Helen collects the glass, cuts it, fires it and will spend hours outside with a wet diamond polisher or sandblasting a finish to complete the vision and masterpiece of glass.

"My work vision is to create glass pieces that are not only beautiful, sometimes tactile but are also functional. Glass is not an inexpensive medium and I find that if a piece is both functional and beautiful the owners are able to enjoy it more as they use or see it."

2014 Niche Awards Finalist