Kristy Sly Glass
Linear Series Wine Stoppers
My usual criterion for purchasing a bottle of wine is that it must be a bottle of red, preferably a malbec, and it must have a pretty wine label. I enjoy wine, but as evident by the aforementioned criteria, I am not a wine connoisseur. Since I pay more attention to the design aesthetic, it makes sense that I'm attracted to unusual wine stoppers. I adored the Murano glass wine stopper my husband and I picked up in Venice, and have kicked myself since for giving it away as a gift. Stumbling on the wine stoppers at Kristy Sly Glass was like returning to the winding Venetian alleys.
Each piece made by Madison glass artist Linear Series Wine Stopper.
Designing both tableware and gifts, Sly has provided shoppers with products that are unique and beautiful, so much so that they create the conundrum of whether to give or keep for oneself.
Sly answered a few questions over email about her work and art.
The Daily Page: How do you motivate your creativity?
Sly: The innate qualities of glass -- the ways in which it reflects light while also transmitting it, refracting it, and shifting its color -- have led me into the world of glass art. My focus is to exploit those properties. My appetite for creating is fed by a number of sources: I recognize the integrity of an age-old tree, I see serenity in the ripples of a kayak's wake, and I appreciate the composition of lines in architecture.
While working in my home studio, I listen to the wrens singing in my backyard, I notice the tilting shafts of light streaming in my windows, and I focus on the tinkling sounds of tools on breaking glass.
Describe your workspace. Are you at the kitchen table or in a dedicated work area?
I have two major workspaces in my home. On the first floor, where I do the majority of my design and fabrication, I have an approximately 10'x12' studio. In that well-lit space, I have a 4'x8' glass cutting table. Along one entire wall, my devoted husband built a system of shelves, all custom sized to accommodate various sizes of sheet glass, glass cane, tools, supplies, books, and -- cough -- junk. On another wall, I have a large wooden crate, two feet tall, four feet long, and one foot wide. Here is where I store full sheets of glass. Full sheets range in size from 2'x4' to 20x35 inches. I have a glass grinder, glass cutting tools, rulers, drawing tools, and a bulletin board covered with little inspirations such as petals from a peony, photos of interesting cracks in the sidewalk, clever lyrics from songs, and swatches of color. I spend most of my creative time here, in this room.
Downstairs in my basement, my two kilns live. I have a large kiln, affectionately known as Grendl. It is 24x42 inches, and oval in shape. I use this kiln for most of my work. My small, and yet unnamed, kiln is octagonal with a 13-inch chamber. I use this kiln for making small test tiles that may or may not be translated into a larger work of art. Here, I have yet another worktable with shelves underneath housing dozens of slumping molds. Another section of shelves holds finished work and kiln shelves. Downstairs, I assemble glass onto kiln shelves, layer glass powders onto sheets of glass, and do all the 'dirty work' that I want to keep out of my main living space.
What is your favorite piece and why?
My favorite piece is whatever I am currently designing. I enjoy the creative process, the problem solving, and the freshness that come with working on something new. Opening the kiln after firing a load of 'new work' is like opening the cover of an unread book -- it can be full of beautiful surprises.
Among my already-developed lines of glassware, I am most attached to the Journey Series. It is meaningful to me because it depicts a journey or ascension, such as a loved-one's ascension into heaven or a griever's journey to light.
What advice do you have for people interested in starting an online store? How do you make the separation between your store and your day job/personal life?
- Invest in good photography.
- Make what you love to make, your audience will follow.
I am a glass artist trying to make a career of it. I worked in a local glass shop for a number of years until I decided to grow my family. Since then, I have been working from home, raising twin daughters, and enjoying myself. Even when I am not looking for inspiration, I am sometimes given an idea. If I am wearing my 'mommy hat' rather than my 'artist hat' I simply write it down, make a mental note, and come back to it when I can. I find that I am never really separated from my work very thoroughly.
What is your favorite local shop in Madison?
Etsy is an online marketplace whose mission is to "reconnect makers with buyers." These explorations will connect you with the makers in your neighborhood.