Carol Houk

While I’ve dabbled in various art mediums over the course of my life, glass has been my medium of choice for over 20 years.  I was drawn to stained glass because of its rich colors and textures, and its ability to make light dance.  This common material made from sand is truly a magical medium. It can be cut, shaped, fused, molded, and sculpted in a flame.  It’s solid, yet flows (even at ambient temperatures given enough time).

Many of my traditional stained glass pieces have been commissioned and installed in homes or businesses.  Designs for these glass works have ranged from geometric patterns to Tuscan scenery.  Smaller stained glass works include colorful window mandalas, terrariums, and wall art.

Stained Glass Mandal
Stained Glass Terrarium

With glass I can be a crafter, painter, or sculptor, working in 2 dimensions or 3. I can even make 2 dimensions look 3-dimensional through layering and the magnifying properties of curved glass.  If I don’t like something I’ve made, I can melt it down and make something else.  My work has expanded from traditional stained glass windows to mosaics, frit (crushed glass) paintings, and sculpted pieces.  I’m always on the lookout for new techniques to try.

Mountain Trail – Frit Painting

In the recent months of pandemic quarantine, I’ve been exploring the potential of molten, flowing glass:  heating a plate of multi-colored glass to the softening point (~1280º F) and watching it slowly flow through an open hole to create a deep vase, or seeing how melting cubes of layered colored glass will flow into an empty space to create a unique solid pattern. 

Drop Vases

Inspiration for some of my work comes from my background in math and science, which can be seen in my stained glass Penrose patterns (Roger Penrose is a Nobel Laureate in mathematical physics), mosaic fractals (repeating patterns used in modeling natural systems), and glass frit paintings of space objects.  I also find inspiration in the life around me from the details of an artichoke in bloom to the night skyline of Portland to create images in fused glass. 

Hawthorne Bridge Nightscape