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Artist profile: Mark Hamilton

Artist: Mark Hamilton
Business name: Solstice Glass
Location: Eugene, OR

Website & Blog:
Solstice Glass

Solstice Glass blog

Mark, how do you describe your work?
My work is inspired by natural organic forms and colors, and I work with borosilicate glass because the color palette has more of an organic feel than soft glass does. Most of my designs are scenes such as a sunrise or things such as flowers or turtles that can be found in nature.

What is your creative process like?
My creative process is mostly unplanned and sometimes chaotic. I don’t try to create new designs unless I’m in the right mood and can feel the creativity waiting to be expressed. Then I sit down at my bench and just start playing with different glass colors. I just relax and enjoy the process until something emerges that gives me an idea of what I might want to create. Occasionally during the process of playing around, a finished piece will take shape without any conscious direction at all. Those are often the best ones!

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?
I’ve had very little formal training in lampworking. Before I had access to a glass studio, I spent a couple afternoons with friends who were lampwork bead artists. They gave me a little lesson and let me spend a few hours melting glass on their torch. Then a good friend moved to town and it turned out he had just learned the basics of lampworking. He had only been lampworking a couple of months himself but taught me what he could. From there I went on to teach myself by experimenting a lot and reading a couple books on lampworking.

During my 12 years as a lampworker, I’ve also spent time at different friends’ studios and learned various techniques by observing them at work. Most of my work is based on the techniques I discovered through practice on my own though. I feel that being self taught gives my work a unique flavor that I might not otherwise have developed.

Is there a tool or material that you can’t imagine living without?
Pure silver. I file it up, fume it, or cut little pieces off a silver wire and embed it in the glass. It’s extremely versatile and creates some of my favorite effects in lampworking.

What inspires you to create?
My work is inspired by the time I spend in nature. Hiking in the forest, kayaking on a river, or enjoying a beautiful sunset inspires me to express that natural beauty in a glass pendant, bead or marble.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?
When my work gets frustrating it’s usually because I’m not relaxing and letting it flow. What often works is to do something to take my rational mind off my work. Listening to an audiobook can keep my rational mind occupied while my more creative mind creates.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?
You can’t go wrong with lots of practice and that usually means paying for lots of materials. So find a way to sell your work online or at a local artisan’s market…it will allow you to spend more on materials and get more practice. It will also give you valuable feedback about your work as you progress.

What takes up the majority of your time besides your art?
I also own Web Weaver Services, a web design, marketing and SEO company that specializes in helping other artists and small businesses be successful online. When I’m not making glass art I’m usually working on a web project for a client.

What’s your favorite hobby?
River kayaking is my favorite hobby and I usually run class III and under rivers. I enjoy trips of around 20 miles or overnight kayaking/camping trips. There’s nothing that relaxes and rejuvenates me like a day spent moving with the rhythm of flowing water.

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