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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Deserved recognition

Post Falls glass artist Louise Telford’s need to be creative has taken her to the pinnacle of her career. She has dabbled in art most of her life, mostly in spinning and weaving, but found her niche with glass art. “When I discovered glass, I found the joy of my life,” Telford says. “I have to create. If I don’t make something every day I get irritable. Glass is such a magical material to work with.”

Telford will receive well-deserved recognition when her “Composition in Black and White” is featured in the silent auction of the 2004 Pilchuk Glass auction Oct. 15 at the Westin Hotel in Seattle.

This is the 26th annual glass auction and exhibition of International Glass Art presented by Pilchuk, and it is the oldest glass art auction in the United States. Founded in 1971 by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly and patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg, Pilchuk Glass School has become the largest and most comprehensive center in the world to learn glass art. The show is juried, and as a former Pilchuk student and current volunteer, Telford is delighted to be a part of this show.

“What’s great about art is you get up in the morning and it makes you happy,” Telford says. “To me it’s a joy to have my artwork juried into such a prestigious event.”

Working with glass was a chance discovery for Telford. In the early ‘90s she wanted to fuse together glass from jars, but discovered that what she wanted to do wouldn’t work. After doing some research and attending “Glass on the Grass,” a glass art show at Arbor Crest winery in Spokane, she discovered that she couldn’t fuse different types of glass together without first testing it for compatibility.

Telford started taking classes, first learning how to paint glass from Coeur d’Alene artist Lynn Gamble. The paint had to be fired onto the glass in a glass-fusing kiln, which can get as hot as 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

“I had taken some pottery classes, so I knew a little bit about kilns, but the kilns that you use for glass are different than you use for pottery,” Telford says. “I felt like a sponge, so after that class I took a class at Spokane Community College, one in Portland and eventually I got into Pilchuk Glass School.”

Telford was a student of Henry Halem’s at Pilchuk in 2001. She lived on the campus, located 50 miles north of Seattle in Stanwood, Wash., while she was learning new techniques.

At Pilchuk she learned more about fusing glass, metal leafing and sandblasting. Telford’s specialty is fused glass. “Composition in Black and White” is a fused piece.

Fusing glass is accomplished by heating two or more layers of glass heated in the kiln, which can take more than 20 hours. On the second firing, the shape is created, which takes up to another 18 hours. “Composition in Black and White’s” checkerboard pattern is several 1-inch-by-1-inch squares, alternating in black and white, fused together. It is considered a functional piece, because it is a sushi plate.

Telford was first inspired to do sushi plates and sets by picking up a beautiful set of chopsticks. Then she designed the plates to go with them.

“It’s like the chopsticks inspire me to make the plates,” Telford says. “I find them in Asian shops. I look for the most interesting and different chopsticks that I can find.”

She also has her sculptural line and jewelry line. Both employ glass fusion. Telford uses a lot of dichroic glass in her jewelry line. This glass is created through vacuum deposition. The result is art-glass that transmits and reflects colors and bends light.

The starting price of “Composition in Black and White” is $800. Proceeds from the sale will go to Pilchuk. Many of the artists have donated their best work to benefit the school. “I feel that I have a gift, and I feel that I have to help society in some way,” Telford says. “So by donating pieces of my art to things that I believe in, that I feel are a good cause, I can help (other students).”

Telford spends 30 to 40 hours per week on her art, in addition to a full-time job as a respiratory therapist at Kootenai Medical Center. She has a 400-square-foot studio in her home that she is outgrowing. The studio has taken up most of the basement in the home she shares with her husband, Gary. There she has her kiln, grinding, polishing and cutting tools and other assorted tricks of her trade. Gary is building her a bigger studio because she needs a bigger kiln. Their home is in the “boonies,” which she loves for the inspiration.

The two Telford children have picked up their mother’s creativity as well. Shawn Telford, 31, is an actor in Seattle working on his master’s degree in theater at the University of Washington. Gideon Telford, 23 is a professional skateboarder in Portland.

With what she credits as “good marketing skills,” Telford’s work is represented by many studios throughout the United States. Her work is on display in Coeur d’Alene at Erlendson Art Glass, and in Spokane at Good Works, where she had her first solo show in July. Her work is also shown in Sandpoint, Priest Lake, Scottsdale, Ariz., Louisville, Ky., New Mexico, Tacoma and about a half-dozen other galleries.

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