Making the cut with glass artist
Drill press. Grinder. Soldering iron. Pliers.
These are some of the tools artist Deenie Pacik uses to make fused glass and stained glass creations in her home studio in Warwick.
While the art requires a delicate hand, a bit of strength helps.
“A teacher once told me, ‘Be mean to the glass,’” she said.
When she’s designing, Pacik said she is completely emerged in whatever she’s doing. To her, there is nothing more relaxing. “It’s sort of like being in another world,” she said. “You know all the negative associations about being an artist? That’s when all that stuff is good.”
Pacik spends most of her time designing and working on commission projects. Her commissions, to name a few, include stained glass windows, etched doors, an 18-inch-by-22-inch fused glass window, and an etched crossword tray.
Recently, she was asked to design a poppy flower for a front window in a local home, and is also in the process of updating a 93-piece stained glass window that was made for a church more than 20 years ago.
“The work I do is more one-of-a-kind,” Pacik said.
Fused glass is glass that has been fired, or heat-processed, in a kiln, an oven for burning, baking or drying glass and pottery, at a range of high temperatures. To fuse glass, the kiln is set at 1,200 to 1,500 degrees.
“It’s three times the temperature that you’d use to make a pizza in the oven,” she said.
Stained glass, often seen in church windows, is made of vibrantly colored glass. It is primarily used to depict decorative designs. While they are separate techniques, Pacik combines the two.
“What’s cool is you can use stained glass techniques on fused glass to create different effects,” she said.
In addition to designing and performing stained glass repairs, she also teaches classes on fused glass, with up to eight students per class. Each class is $39, plus a $15 materials fee. For more details on pricing, scheduling and how to register, visit her website at deeniepacik.net.
Pacik, who grew up in Goffstown, N.H. and moved to Rhode Island four years ago, has been painting her whole life and began creating art with glass more than 15 years ago.
Her interest in glass art became clear while she was working on abstract paintings after earning a Bachelor in Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“A friend of mine said that my paintings look like glass and that I should take a glass class,” said Pacik. “I actually listened and I fell in love.”
Then, she studied glass at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and enrolled in glass internships in New England and continued her studies at Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle.
Soon after, she received her Masters in Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, and again attended Pilchuck Glass School on a scholarship.
Her resume is extensive, as her work is shown in local galleries and juried shows, such as the Fuller Craft Museum and the Danforth Craft Show of the Danforth Museum of Art.
Moreover, she taught stained glass techniques at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, and trained students in fused glass and studio art at the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts, Diablo Glass School in Boston, the Boston Architectural College, as well as Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education.
She is the recipient of the Museum of Fine Arts Enterprise Design award and the Dorothy Maddy Scholarship from the Stained Glass Association of America.
If that’s not enough, Pacik is also writing and illustrating a children’s book, “Turtle Magic,” in which a young girl loses her “adventure cape” and a friendly turtle helps her find it by taking her on a journey around the world atop its shell.
“I want to take my paintings for the book and translate them onto glass,” she said. “The glass just changes everything because it’s so intense.”
She was inspired to write the book during a visit to Forest Hill Cemetery in Boston and saw a turtle in the middle of the road. Worried it would be harmed by traffic she brought it to safety.
“There’s just something cool about turtles,” Pacik said. “If you look at folklore, they’re in every culture.”
Pacik hopes to finish her book by April of next year. In fact, she’d like to debut it at her upcoming exhibit, “The Light Show,” in the same month at the Warwick Museum of Art. It will focus on light, shadows and the reality of illusion.
“What attracts me to glass is the translucency of the colors,” she said. “It’s a very unusual form of art and you don’t see it very often. You can do stuff with plastic but it doesn’t have the same quality. Glass has a unique texture. It’s really fun.”
In the meantime, guests are welcome to visit her home studio by appointment only. She can be contacted at 401-919-5969.