April's featured member is the very talented Suzanne Tanner of Tanner Glass. Suzanne has been part of Arts In RI for about a year and she brings with her the ancient art of glass blowing. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Suzanne. She is a straight shooter, very serious about her craft and has a heart of gold. We asked Suzanne to tell us more about herself.
Suzanne, please give us a little background on yourself:
I have spent a huge part of my life in Rhode Island…..growing up, I spent my summers on the beach (and still do), but never imagined living here full time. In my heart, I’m a mountain girl. Give me snowy peaks, endless trails, and a wood burning stove, and I’m happy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing that compares to sand between the toes. I just happen to prefer ski boots on my feet.But, I’m proud to call Rhode Island my home. I’ve been here for 10 years, after living in Maine and Colorado (surprised?). The arts community here is like none other.
When did you first become interested in your art form?
I have a vivid memory of seeing glassblowers work at a festival when I was a child (okay….not completely vivid, as I can’t remember where or when). I was amazed at what they were doing, and the fact that the glassblowers had long hair (they were men). Men didn’t have long hair in West Hartford, CT, where I grew up. West Hartford did have art classes, and I took them. I loved to draw, and thankfully, my parents knew that. I took my first glassblowing class my Senior year (last semester) at Hartwick College in 1993. Within a week, I knew this is what I wanted to do.
What inspires you?
The everyday. I strive to make functional work…….things that people will want to own, and use everyday. I like to call my work FUNctional Objects.
Does living in Rhode Island influence your work in any way?
As I mentioned earlier, the Arts community here is unmatched. And the support, advice and inspiration I receive from fellow RI artists has helped me get where I am today.
What techniques do you use the most in your work?
Well, around these parts, I’m known for my bottle stoppers. No specific technique there……they are just my ‘thing’. A technique that I use often, is hot-applying designs to my work. The Coin Bud Vases and Belted Vases are perfect examples of this. I rarely melt them in completely, creating a optical and textural quality. These are by far, my most favorite things to make.
What do you find most challenging in your work?
Hmmm…..well, glassblowing itself is a challenge. I would like to be better at it. And the challenge lies in finding the time to work at that. It’s easy to get comfortable making the things I make, and not find the time to work outside of my comfort zone. Someday, I will make a goblet. Someday.
How did you find Etsy?
On the Today Show! During the China recalls in 2007, they were discussing venues to purchase American made products. I joined a few months later.
Apart from your Etsy work, what do you do?
I’m a glassblower. (I work for another artist). I’ve been working for her for 10 years, and truly do so much more than glassblowing. And I love it. I also teach Spin (indoor cycle classes) a few times a week. I love that, too.
What's your favorite place in Rhode Island?
My family's beach house in Quonochontaug (in the Spring/Fall, when I can walk my dog on the beach, and just laugh at her battle the ocean, sand, and all things beachy).
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