EASTPOINTE — For the second year in a row, an artist living in Eastpointe will be among the small number presenting her work at the Ridge Fine Art & Handmade Wares Show in Ferndale this month.
Alysa Diebolt, 24, works with fused glass, a method of melting glass together at high temperatures — roughly 1,450 degrees Fahrenheit — as well as slumping, where the glass is softened over something like a mold, ceramic or steel. Since she was 14, the Northern Michigan University marketing graduate has been creating artistic works through these ancient glass-shaping techniques.
Her father is a stained glass artist, and she said he was a strong influence on her getting into working with glass in general, and fused glass in particular. Diebolt said she’s found it enjoyable.
“It is a very forgiving art form,” Diebolt said. “Things do not need to be perfect. Since you are heating up the glass to 1,450 degrees, many flaws will melt down to close to perfect on its own.”
Furthermore, she said it’s a great medium due to the number of possibilities it offers, as the artist can layer the glass and get different effects, as well as try new styles and designs. Diebolt said she can mix things up between traditional and contemporary pieces, keeping them fresh for her customers.
Diebolt said she sticks with coefficient 96 glass — a rating number that indicates how fast the glass will cool — which she said is versatile in terms of color and texture. She also occasionally works with dichroic glass, a type developed initially by NASA for use in spacesuit visors and for satellites.
“Previously, I used dichroic glass more frequently when creating jewelry, but I have stopped making jewelry,” she said. “Now, I am working to incorporate the dichroic glass into my regular pieces, which is not always easy for me to do. Dichroic is a spectacularly sparkly glass and does not always go with a lot of the designs that I create.”
Diebolt said she has been participating in art shows since 2003, when she did a holiday show in Escanaba, and has been joining in shows of all sizes since then.
“I go to shows where the attendance ranges from 500-2,000, or to 10,000 or more,” she said. “It is a unique opportunity to meet many people. I like being able to talk with my customers and build relationships with them.”
Siouxsan Miller, co-founder and currently sole organizer of the art show in Ferndale, said the show is in its 15th year and focused on featuring local artists from Michigan. Only about 25 artists get approved to showcase their wares at it, Miller said. She personally vets the artists.
She said that Diebolt initially had applied for the Fine Art show, and since Miller had already seen some of her work at other art shows, she was very interested in having her there.
“She seems like she has a good, young energy and is not only talented, but very mindful of the business end of being an artist,” Miller said. “It seems like she’s got the whole package together, and to me, that’s kind of exciting. You can be talented, but that doesn’t mean you know how to sell your artwork.”
Miller said Diebolt brought an assortment of items last year, from standalone artwork to functional dishes, platters and ornaments.
Diebolt has not been content with simply bringing her work to art shows, however. In 2005, she started selling her fused glasswork at the East Ludington Gallery in Escanaba, which continues to sell her pieces.
Since then, around 20 retail locations across Michigan have begun selling her work, and Diebolt said locally, Iron Ivy in Eastpointe, Poesy in Royal Oak, and the Michigan Artisans in Eastern Market are all selling her pieces. She added that a full list can be found on her website, www.bricktownglass.com.
Besides fused glass, Diebolt does acrylic painting periodically, an art form she took up when she was 9 years old and in the Delta County 4-H. But fused glass remains her focus, and going forward, Diebolt said she would like to move her art studio from the Upper Peninsula, where she grew up, to Eastpointe. Her goal is to have that move done in 2015.
“I must drive 450 miles to work, which is not exactly ideal,” Diebolt said. “I want to move my studio to Eastpointe and offer classes and lessons on fused glass to people in metro Detroit. I would like to work with area art centers on offering this art form to their members.”
The Ridge Fine Art & Handmade Wares Show will take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church, located at 2441 Pinecrest in Ferndale. There is a $2 admission fee. For more information, call Miller at (248) 933-9363.
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