Fused glass artist Jacki Cohen often finds inspiration in her immediate surroundings. “I always have a sketch pad with me,” she says. “Sometimes it will be an outfit that somebody’s wearing, or a pattern in architecture. I’ll pull out the graphic [design] from it and then translate it to glass.”
For Cohen, who moved to the Valley at age 7, becoming an artist has followed a natural progression. About 13 years ago, the former retail buyer started taking classes through Scottsdale Community College, Mesa Arts Center and other local art institutions. As she became more skilled, people expressed interest in buying her work, so she built a studio in her north Scottsdale home. Now, she exhibits and sells her fused glass in shows and galleries, creates private commissions and is working on her first commercial installation for a pediatric dentist’s office. To continue growing, Cohen takes classes locally at SW Art Glass and Milkweed Arts and tunes in to webinars and instructional videos from master class artists to learn new techniques. “But a lot of it is confidence and trial and error.”
When working with glass, Cohen wears eye protection, closed-toe shoes and long pants (sometimes) to avoid accidents, but still cuts herself multiple times every day. “It’s glass, and sometimes you forget about it, but it’s sharp.”
In the studio, Cohen surrounds herself with brightly colored bowls, hearts, plates and Judaic art in dazzling shades of cobalt blue, lime green, burnt orange and brilliant red – all products of her kiln. Do pieces always come out the way she envisions them? “Opening the kiln is like opening a Christmas present. You hope it’s going to be what you think, but you really never know for sure.” View her work at jackicohenglassartdesigns.com.
Cohen fires her creations in a high-heat, 220-volt kiln that fuses layers of glass together to form vibrant colors and patterns.
2 Glass Grinder
The electric grinder reshapes, trims and smooths the sharp edges of glass.
3 Dichroic glass hearts
Dichroic glass has two colors that change and sparkle in different lighting conditions. Cohen mounted the hearts on a whimsical metal background.
4 Miscellaneous tools
When creating glass art pieces, Cohen uses a scoring tool to mark and cut the glass, pliers to break the glass into shapes and glue to hold pieces in place before they get fired in the kiln.
5 Glass tile
The colors and shapes in the glass were inspired by the Pacific Ocean during a trip to Maui last summer.