Bonnie Rubinstein
River Falls, WI

Bonnie HSMy life-long fascination with working in glass has led me to the complicated, yet spectacular process of glass fusion.

I made it my goal to work in glass because I was always fascinated by colored glass and what happens when light passes through it. To that end, I studied glass-blowing, neon and stained glass. But it’s glass fusion that allows me to bring together design, art, chemistry and craft, resulting in artwork that I couldn’t achieve with any other method.
Kiln-formed or fused glass is an ancient Middle Eastern craft, revived recently, but not taken on by many artists because of its complex process.

I use high-quality, tested compatible fusible glass and carefully monitor kiln firings. I then cut forms from the glass, position the forms together in layered imagery and fuse the pieces inside a kiln at 1450°F to make one solid form which becomes the base. I enhance the design by adding layers of other cut pieces and sometimes thousands of small glass particles. Or, I’ll add beautiful glass features made beforehand by “dripping” colors through a mesh at 1700°F. This produces a unique visual texture in the glass when it’s kiln-fired for the second and third time.
Fused glass allows me to integrate colors while maintaining the designs in tack so I can control the outcome.

The vibrant colors in my fused glass pieces are colored glass, no paints or stains are used; and the colors are permanent.

After two to four complete firings, or as much as 60 hours of kiln firing time, the piece is complete. The results are remarkably strong, long-lasting works of art. Annealing the glass makes it extremely durable.
Glass is alive, both molecularly and artistically. It has energy and brings life to spaces in a way no other material can. During the course of a day, the visual aspects of glass art changes as the lighting changes, making the piece dynamic. As light is transmitted through my finished pieces, it plays on the vibrant colors I create and often casts interesting shadows on another surface.
Sometimes the work is more abstract and metaphoric, other times it’s more realistic. I often focus on forms and images found in nature. I want people to be moved by the art’s theme and beauty. I feel most fulfilled when someone says the work is inspirational.

My fused glass pieces can be hung on walls or from the ceiling, or they can be free-standing pieces supported by stainless steel stands that I design and integrate with the glass. I enjoy making larger architectural works and the challenges new projects bring by pushing the envelope to produce new types of kiln-formed creations.
Trained as an urban designer, I’ve lectured on the importance of art in public spaces. I’ve always analyzed spaces and thought about ways to create artwork as focal points that complement the space and enhance the experience of the people who inhabit the space.
Bonnie is a native New Yorker, but has been an urban designer in Ohio, Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. She was on the design team of Beaver Creek, Colorado, ski resort. Her line of hand-made boutique jewelry and other accessories were carried by Saks Fifth Avenue and better art galleries throughout the U.S.

She founded EcoSource in 1990 to help businesses with environmental sustainability issues. Her environmental passions extend into the theme of many of her glass pieces. Her art includes large themed murals, sculptures, corporate art, light fixtures, sinks, bar tops, counters and dishware. Her work adorns the walls of the universities, hospitals and many other businesses and residences across the country. She lives in River Falls, Wisconsin, with her husband and two daughters. Her studio is in a large, 1920s former dairy barn where the ghosts of many cows watch over her creations. She has fun!
Artists Statement
Bonnie_By_ArtBorn of fire and silica, and being defined as a super-cooled liquid whose molecules are in motion, glass has an energy, clarity and beauty all its own.

When I am cutting the glass and manipulating the glass pieces and particles, the glass shows me the way it wants to evolve. It is a moving art form. I have found fascination in colored glass and focused on what light and glass do when they interact. Because glass uses light to bring the art to life, it has an ability to be a great source of energy for a space.

My method is recognized for its unique ways of creating new glass colors and visual “textures” by blending hundreds of tested, compatible, vibrantly colored glass fragments. The pieces are fused together in a kiln at 1460 degrees for several firings that can total 45 to 60 hours. The results are remarkably strong, long-lasting works of art.
I believe that artists have a particular spark of energy that does not rest until released. My career has led me from urban design for communities, parks, cities and ski resorts to jewelry design and manufacturing, and on to working in all forms of glass. I have incorporated my passion for environmental stewardship into the theme of much of my work.

I have respect for the challenges that working in glass presents, and strive to push the envelope on my projects to produce new types of kiln-formed creations. This has become a passion and a wonderful outlet for my creative energies.