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Denver Vendor Spotlight: Caged Bird Sings

How would you describe your style?  
Funky, Nerdy, Romantic.  I have a masters in Art history so a lot of my inspiration comes from people in different timelines, countries, and books. 

Are there any artists / designers that you particularly look up to?
I've always been inspired by Wassily Kandinsky and his use of color and pattern to portray emotion and sound into his work.  My specialty is in African art so I'm also complete enamored with Nick Cave (not the singer) and El Anatsui since both deal with pattern, used material, and transference of cultural history into a contemporary work of art. 

What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own? 
Because I personally make them!  I wrote a paper on the quality of "things" in graduate school and it is mostly about this idea of a "thing" gaining quality by being touched, or formed, with human ingenuity.  That's a similar idea to what I have about my own work.  I use recycled stained glass from a local stained glass artist, I find branches from local parks, and I hold, mold, and put so much love into every chime that I create, and then there is of course the person purchasing the chime for a whole variety of reasons.  All of these different people are a part of the story of the piece and that's what makes me so passionate about creating them. 

What sort of things inspire you?  Where do you look for inspiration?
Nature, humans, emotions.  I often find myself using nature with all of the various patterns, and color combinations as a big inspiration for my work.  There is a kind of special, magical quality that stained glass offers that I find best mirrors those found in natural settings.  Colorado also offers the most beautiful scenery and unusual pairings.  Last summer I spent a long weekend visiting the Sand Dunes for the first time and was just blown away by the way the dunes, river, and mountain peaks played off of one another.  When I'm laying out pieces my design process is very much my memory and emotions felt visiting the different places that I've explored and the people that I've met along the way.  

When do you feel the most creative?
I love to jam out.  Pandora has an "80s Cardio" playlist and when that comes on... I turn into my most productive self (unfortunately for my neighbors it's also extreme karaoke self).  Usually I'll go on a big hike or little walk around Denver to recharge, but I've also found myself to reset into the creative process when I let someone else do it for me.  I love, love, love letting others help me with their custom orders, ESPECIALLY when I'm able to let them come to pick their own glass pieces from my workroom at home.  I love getting to see them pick out pieces and put them together and it really helps fuel my own creative spirit.  I think this is also why I'm such a passionate teacher, I'm always looking for new ways to tackle a project or subject.  

What is your creative process like?
I have about three bins of stained glass scraps (mostly organized by color group) and will spend hours selecting pieces and placing them on rubber mats to lay out a chime.  I'll collect handfuls of colors I find interesting and then begin to put them together.  I usually have a system of opaque pieces next to more transparent ones but I will try and mix it up a little bit.  Once I've set aside a few chime designs and I'm ready to create I head straight to my bead collection which usually has me making design decisions of whether or not to include the same color palate with the beads or to create a contrast.  Then I place the 3-4 beads per piece of glass above the glass, plug in the glue, put on some music, and get into the zone.  One of my favorite little secrets (though not anymore!) is adding an "M" shape with the hemp on one piece of glass per chime, it's kind of like a quiet signature and it always makes me smile knowing that my name is hidden within the work. 

What's the coolest artistic tip you've ever received?
Ah!  So many.  One of my professors at the University of Northern Colorado told me to put my work far away and squint to try and see if the colors, highlights, and shadows were equally placed and I use that advice all the time.  I think one of my most inspiring artistic tips was from a painting professor who told me that my need to please others was bringing my work quality down and that art should be for you.  She told me that all of those great artists that we learned about did not care about whether or not I thought their work was "pretty" or "cool" but rather that we felt some sort of transference in emotion because that artist put their heart, soul, and personal belief into that work of art and that I should do the same.