Pacific Northwest ArtFire Guild

Monday, March 5, 2012

Studio Spotlight – Steider Studios

It has been a pleasure getting to know Pacific Northwest glass artist, Linda Steider over the past few months. Today I am happy to be able to share that pleasure with you. Her creations in glass are amazing!

After you’ve gotten to know to Linda a little better, then I would encourage you to go check out her ArtFire shop and her blog. I should mention, too, that in addition to her beautiful glass work, Linda is a talented photographer as well.


How did you get started as a glass artist and when did you get started?

I was a fiber artist curating a show at my local gallery & one of the artists asked me “If you like glass so much, why aren’t you working with it?” It had never occurred to me that I could! I went to his studio, learned how to work on a torch and my husband, fearing a torch set up in my fiber studio bought a kiln for my birthday. I then went to Bullseye Glass in Portland and learned everything they could teach me in the mid 90’s.
(My fiber career spanned back to high school where my teachers bought my tie dyed macrame belts. At 16, I was selling at outdoor venues and at 30 I was in galleries and gift shops with art quilts and soft sculptured dolls. Just when I was starting to get noticed nationally, I switched gears as I fell in love with glass and literally had to start my art career all over with my new medium.)
What is your creative process like?

I daydream. I meditatively pull weeds. I drive from the eastern edge of the gorge into Portland, a very inspiring landscape. These are where ideas pop into my head and begin to flow. Sometimes it’s a visual image of a finished piece. More often it’s a word or feeling that I try to figure out how to form with glass. I scribble a sketch into my ever present sketchpad, then fine tune it at the first opportunity in my studio.

The next phase is making a prototype or two or three. These prototypes turn into a series. I try to fully explore each idea before moving on to the next project.

Where do you do your work?

My studio is a spare bedroom that I took over many years ago. I had floor to ceiling cabinets put into one wall, a large workbench against the opposing wall and sturdy bookcases against a third wall. The fourth wall is windows and interspersed everywhere are small art objects made by friends or that I’ve found at art shows.
I have 3 commercial kilns in a covered patio that I call my studio annex where I also store my extra raw materials. As of last winter, I added an ‘annex 2’, formerly a potting shed where I keep my cold-working equipment, saws, grinders, and a flat lap for grinding and polishing glass after it comes out of the kiln.
What sets your work apart from other glass artists?

I use powdered glass for a more painterly effect, I can get shading and watercolor imagery by pouring, sifting and carefully placing powders, then drawing through or marking into the powder. I also will often highlight a piece with 22k gold in liquid form that I can draw directly on the glass. Oh, and I love sparkle, so I use iridescent glass in most of my work.
What inspires or influences your creativity?
I love the outdoors and natural world. I’ve been known to follow a great blue heron down the Columbia River for miles trying to capture a photograph; and this time of year I’m always on the lookout for eagles. What starts out as a simple hike in a forest inspires me with tree textures, rock formations, or water currents.
I keep a garden blog and a 365 photo blog in which I show photos of wildlife & flowers I love, and/or was privileged to get close enough to photograph.
Do you have favorite colors or color combinations or favorite types of glass
to work with?

I love purple. Purple and turquoise. Purple and red. Purple and kelly green. Purple and everything, really. My favorite glass is powder on an iridescent sheet glass substrate.
What is the most gratifying part of having your own business?
Being able to do what I love – being creative in my own space. Setting my own hours…which as it turns out are usually longer than a regular job would be. I am constantly challenged with new ideas and projects and especially love custom work. It’s a challenge to turn a client’s dream into reality, using color swatches and sketches of my interpretation of the client’s stated desires. I love all the connections I’ve made with interesting people, whether creative, business related, or while at an art show, garden show or even just hiking.
What is the most difficult part?
Having to wear so many hats. Having to know how to make it, market it, sell it, photograph it, write product descriptions and press releases, and creatively find new venues to market in. Like most artists, I’d really rather just make it.
Any advice for someone just starting out?

Have the courage to follow your dreams. Do everything it takes to make it happen. Stay focused and positive.
What are your other interests or hobbies?

I’m an avid gardener and plant collector and this year for the first time signed up to be a seller at the Yard Garden & Patio Show at the Portland Convention Center instead of a buyer! I love training my dog (we’re working on picking up toys right now) & taking her on hikes through the forest.
Do you have anything that is unusual or surprising about you that you’d be willing to share with us?

I was honored to be one of the artists chosen for Flow Magazine’s ‘7th Annual Gallery of Women in Glass’ Winter 2011 issue that just came out in December.I teach at national glass conferences and for glass studios across the country. My favorite venue is in Alaska where I’ve been invited to teach again for the third year in a row. My courses are mostly specific to working with powdered glass, with basic design & color theory thrown in from time to time. I’m a lucky woman, fortunate enough to be living out my dream life in a gorgeous setting.

If you go to Maryhill Museum, I hope you’ll take a look at the Windy Walk fence; you’ll see the colorful glass inserts that I made.

I market ‘Steider Studios Glass Medium’, a binder and thickening agent that turns powdered glass into paste (commonly called glass clay) that can be sculpted similar to polymer clay. It’s great for making buttons or small sculptures.

My favorite Arts in Education project was for Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital. I led a group of high school students for two months through the process of making glass tiles, while thinking about the concept of ‘healing’. Seventy five tiles were installed in five large panels at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital in Hood River, OR

What is your favorite piece and why?

I have to laugh because my favorite piece is usually the one I’m working on at the moment … and it’s difficult to choose just one. Two pieces immediately came to mind though, ‘Red Cells’ because it holds a lot of meaning for me & I love the mystery that people see in it. My ‘Raining Cats and Dogs’ series is fun and I love the playfulness it evokes.
Where can we connect with you?

Posted for the Pacific Northwest ArtFire Guild by: Linda Landig

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