The Fragility and Splash of Glass
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ChanukahArts & Culture

The Fragility and Splash of Glass

Local artist Renee Karchmer specializes in fusion and slumped glass.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Star of David is 10” by 10” and a best seller.
Star of David is 10” by 10” and a best seller.

Retired art teacher Renee Karchmer has found her niche in glass design, fusion, and slumped glass in her RK Glass Designs where she is passionate about the beauty of glass and its possibilities in dramatic contrasts and colors.

Especially this time of year, Karchmer cannot produce enough of her Judaic glass line, and said, “I take a particular interest in making menorah display pieces, as Chanukah is a special family holiday for us. I also enjoy incorporating Judaic images into plates and platters, which are best sellers. Menorahs are actually made from glass shards to arrive at its branch-like images.”

Karchmer’s menorahs are composed of glass shards subject to her imagination.

Karchmer spent her childhood in Jacksonville, where she loved anything art related. As a young girl, she designed doll clothes and made the most of a drawer of construction paper, crayons, scissors, and glue that her mother kept stocked for her artistic daughter.

After high school, Renee enrolled at the University of Georgia to pursue her major in art education which allowed a long-term career in sharing her talent with others. Over the course of teaching in the DeKalb County School System for 27 years, Karchmer exposed her students to different art forms, techniques, and theories while practicing her own drawing and ceramics skills. After she retired, she became a regular at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. She started with what she knew – ceramics classes. After a few short years, Renee decided to explore fused and slumped glass where she ultimately landed.

She stated, “I am drawn to the beautiful colors and the process of glass fusion. Over time, I’ve created various types of glass pieces: display plates, plates, bowls, jewelry, and platters.”

The platter has a dreamy “water feel” separated by a gold bar.

Most of Karchmer’s glass pieces are utilitarian, and all are food safe. She says, “When I am immersed in art, I have nothing else on my mind. It’s my time to lose myself in any art activity.”

Back in the studio, she starts by examining various glass pieces envisioning how to assemble them into a work of art. After selecting a sheet of “starting” glass, Karchmer cuts this base sheet into a shape: a circle, rectangle, square, or something more organic. From there, she lets the colors and textures inspire her.

Renee uses lime to contrast with intense royal blue.

After creating a design, the glass piece is fired in a kiln to fuse the glass pieces to the base glass. Then, the piece is set on a mold and fired again to “slump” to the shape of the mold. This results in a bowl, platter, night light, or plate. Amber, lime, and shades of blue and aqua are frequent color palettes, but occasionally Karchmer uses crimson or white.

The process of “slumping” places the glass over a mold at high temperatures. The slumping of a pyrometric cone is often used to measure kiln temperature, in heating over a shape or even a 3D object. The more water is used, the higher the risks of cracking. “Fusing” focuses on combining glass into one piece vs. the reshaping achieved through slumping.

This turquoise plate suggests a candy/heart theme.

Karchmer achieves contrast by using “irid” glass that provides a sparkle and glow. Irid has a thin metallic coating on one surface in the most common colors for fusible glass in gold, silver, and rainbow. Some have pattern effects. She also uses “fritted” material, which is printed with ink, resulting in ultra small particles of ground-up glass.

RK Glass Designs participates in local shows where Karchmer oversees and displays her work. Prices range from $10 to $100, with many in the $45 range for her one-of-a-kind treasures.

Renee Karchmer spends her time at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody coming up with unique designs.

Karchmer said, “I am not doing this to make a living. I want to make my work affordable.”

A member of Temple Sinai, Karchmer shares a creative verve with her daughter and granddaughter, and said, “But each in our own way.”

For more information, visit rkarchmer@comcast.net or call 770-396-3195.

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