Steph Harper, glass artist
I have been fascinated by glass since I first visited Europe as a child and saw what humans have done over the centuries to bring glory to God and beauty to the world through the use of glass in cathedrals. That interest stayed with me as I learned to make stained glass windows and later got into kiln work. I have never grown tired of playing with glass, seeing what it can do and using it in ways that bring out its unique characteristics. I work to create pieces that are interesting, finely made, and that draw people in. My experiences in the military, living abroad, and even growing up along the shores of Lake Michigan all come together in my work.
Stephanie J. Harper is a glass artist whose work makes use of intense colors and bold design elements to create pieces that are as eye-catching as they are well-made. Her work is often bright and electric while tempered with a sense of restraint and innovative use of technique. One can see evidence of the balance that she holds between the creative and logical sides of her mind in each of her pieces.
Stephanie’s versatility stems from her unique background and her individual passions. She grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan and draws immense personal inspiration from the waters that nurtured her as a girl. Vivid sunsets and dramatic seasons all congeal within her personal frame of reference and she draws upon this in both her figurative and abstract glass work. Stephanie holds a degree in engineering and has extensive military experience - and she credits these experiences for honing her exacting, intellectual side, while paving the way for her artistic endeavors.
Originally working in stained glass (both copper foil and leaded techniques), Stephanie has formidable glass-cutting skills which serve her well as she focuses on warm or kiln-formed glass. Looking at her fused glass pieces reveals complex cutouts and masterful compilations that are achieved only through meticulous cutwork and attention to detail. (In glasswork, curves and circles tend to be more difficult cuts to make since glass wants to break along straight score-lines.) Her pieces are fired at least twice in kilns reaching temperatures of 1200-1600 degrees Fahrenheit. Larger and more complex pieces sometimes enter the kiln eight or ten times before they’ve met her exacting standards. Stephanie also makes wonderful use of her coldworking skills to create pieces that take on an almost ethereal quality with matte finishes and textures that seem to defy the very medium with which they’re made.
“Glasswork as an art form is a representation of my personality. It takes all of my logical and perfectionist tendencies and puts them to work in the technical aspects of cutting and firing the glass and lets me balance them with the colorful and creative parts of myself that drive me to make art in the first place. The juxtaposition of the fluidity of hot glass with its cool, static state at room temperature is a perfect metaphor for the way we live in this world. No matter who you are, or what approach you take to life, you are bound by certain rules. Those rules might be societal or self-imposed, or even just the basic laws of physics, but we are all bound by something. Glass is like that. You can do many wonderful things with it, but you are always bound by its physical properties. This is true for all art mediums, but I feel that the unique nature of glass makes it even more so. In order to work with it, you have to respect its true nature.”