Silvia Deen draws inspiration from nature. She enjoys exploring Colorado’s mountains and natural landscapes, observing the way light hits the trees or how scenery changes with the seasons.
She then replicates what she sees in nature onto a canvas — in her case, fused glass.
Fusing is a technique in which an artist joins two or more pieces of glass by heat in a kiln.
“I always liked art. We like to go to the mountains, to little mountain towns … that we enjoy a lot,” Deen said. “At one point, we were in Aspen and there was a gallery we went in where we saw some glass art. I fell in love with a few particular items. Some of the work I saw was fused glass, and at the time I didn’t know what that was. I asked [the artist]. She explained it a little bit to me, and I just was so amazed.”
Deen hails from Germany, but she has lived in Colorado Springs since 1987, when she moved here with her husband. The couple has three children together, two born overseas and the youngest born in Colorado.
A stay-at-home mom when the children were young, Deen said she decided to re-enter the workforce when their youngest son was in school.
In Germany, Deen had an associate degree in manual drafting and held an apprenticeship there in which she worked with engineers to create drawings by hand for projects. Over the years, drafting became computer-based instead of manual, so Deen said she relearned the trade in a new way and later worked part-time in the field.
About six years ago, she began pursuing fused glass art. What started out as a hobby has transformed into something much more for Deen.
She spoke with the Business Journal about her art, her process and the effects of COVID-19.
Talk a little about fused glass and your process for creating artwork.
With fused glass, I start with a certain background color and then I add the motifs on it, such as trees, butterflies, leaves. I have to cut those with a glass cutter into certain shapes and make them as good as I can. Sometimes it’s a little difficult because it breaks or it doesn’t go the way you want. But my art reflects nature, and nature is not perfect. Nothing is perfect in nature. So, I cut leaves, twigs, flowers, butterflies, and I put them on the background glass which is a larger sheet. I lay it out there the way I want it, and to get the shape I want, sometimes I paint a little bit of the glass. To make it the way I want, sometimes I need to put it away for a little while. I’ll maybe start working on a new project and look at the one I’m working on later because I see it with different eyes. I have a different perspective.
Once I’m happy with it and it’s how I like it, it gives me that good feeling, that happy feeling. That’s when it gets put into the kiln and it gets fired to between 1,400 and 1,450 degrees Fahrenheit, which takes about 48 hours because it needs to slowly heat up to that temperature so it melts the way it’s supposed to be. Then the kiln shuts down and it slowly has to cool down; otherwise, it probably would break.
When I first started, it was difficult as far as the colors because it’s possible for them to show differently once the kiln is fired. It can be a good surprise or not such a happy surprise, or a piece that I had in there might have moved a little bit for whatever reason. I learned out of those experiences. That’s when I learned it’s best to wait a day to continue because I have more ideas.
Over time, I started putting rock chips on many of them, which I get from the mountains. I love going into little galleries in the mountains and looking at other artists’ artwork. I just really enjoy doing it and my husband enjoys it as well. Especially in Colorado, you are surrounded by nature. I get some ideas seeing the sunlight coming into the forest or in trees; it shows the different colorations. Sometimes you can look at something in the morning, and in the evening, it looks different. I love that. It’s very beautiful.
What is about art you enjoy so much?
It’s relaxing. You create something you really enjoy and especially since I like nature a lot, it’s like trying to create a copy of it in glass.
How has your artwork changed in the last six years?
Initially, I started with something that the background was more black and white, and then I added some brighter colors, like orange, in it. The background is completely different than what I do now. Now, it’s gotten more colorful; I like to use different colors. I’ve gotten more into color than the grayish black and white that I used to use. I still like those, but my art has changed. I wouldn’t mind doing those again, but I’m starting to have so many different ideas.
I’ve started adding rocks and in one particular picture — I believe I made it last fall — I actually added real bark to it. I collected some nice bark and some twigs, which I used on it. I’ll probably try that some more. I need to practice it though. It still came out nice, but not quite the way I wanted it. Something I want to pursue in the near future is to add tree bark though. So in those ways, it’s progressed. Of course, I’ll get more ideas when I look at things and I think, ‘Wow, that’s gorgeous,’ and I would like to recreate it.
Where is your artwork currently on display?
Right now, I have an event at Miriam’s Place; it’s on Boulder Street. It will be on display through the end of August. I also have a little bit of art in a gallery in Golden, Colorado, and then I try to promote it a little bit on my Instagram (@silviasglassgallerie) and on Facebook. My next event won’t be until February; I have an event scheduled for the whole month of February at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts.
How have you been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I was going to participate in an event at a gallery in Manitou Springs the end of March. The title of the theme was “Blowing in the Wind.” I had prepared several glass panels for that theme, which I have showing now at Miriam’s Place. It was sad, but we had to cancel it.
Miriam’s Place is doing a virtual art show. We did a live a video visit going through it, which is available on their website. They aren’t open to the public unless, of course, there are special arrangements like if the artist calls ahead. I went with some friends and my daughter, so they could see it.
What are your plans for the future?
I just take one day at a time and work on my art. This gives me a lot of joy. I do hope it gets out there; it’s nice for people to enjoy it as well and to see nature and what you can do with glass. It’s unbelievable.