Meet Makers Working in Metal, Glass and Mosaic
Jeff and Heather Thompson
Glassblowing is not only an ancient art form; this unique medium has transformed from factory functionality objects to one of a kind sculptures, light fixtures and wall art. Jeff and Heather Thompson’s Bend workshop functions in the tradition of the “studio glass movement” that emerged in the 60s. Using three primary furnaces: the crucible, glory and kiln along with a five-foot, steel pipe that gathers the molten glass from the furnaces — the process of shaping glass takes extreme concentration and time. The Thompson’s use their knowledge, experience and non-verbal communication (they are married) to create their unique art. Glassblowing has been described as “a dance” of movement and coordination, combining colors, shapes and unique features for each piece. With several installations both locally and nationally, the Thompsons draw inspiration from both nature and the alchemy of bringing science and art together. “The yin and yang of the pure natural environment is a process that inspires me,” says Heather. “The flow of the glass and heat mixed with color intrigues me and it feels like I’m playing with the stars.
Nature, the universe, light and colors are my inspiration,”
she adds. The Thompson’s Studio Art includes blown, sculpted and solid pieces and the pair are currently experimenting with forged and fabricated steel components, wall lighting features and creating custom glass colors which is rarely done in the glassblowing world. Embracing the entrepreneurial and artistic spirit of Central Oregon, The Thompson’s art is a blend of traditional, contemporary and custom works. “The desire to create is a part of my personality. I’m compelled by the challenge of bringing a thought or vision into reality and figuring out the steps to make that happen. Glassblowing as an art is strange because there is a very sequential process and order that must be followed to achieve a successful artwork and then within that process,” says Jeff. ThompsonStudioGlass.com
Bend born metal artist Kellen Bateham is a true craftsman who has taken blacksmithing to the next level. A process traced back to 1500 BC, blacksmithing heats metal in a 2300-degree forge. Using various tools and techniques, Bateham’s style allows him to create all sizes of works from small jewelry pieces to thousand-pound sculptures. Besides creating on his own, one of Bateham’s deepest passions is collaborating with other metal artists on community made sculptures. This passion led him to found The Peoples’ Forge Project, a nonprofit that aims to bring public art to communities everywhere. In 2016, Bateham led a collaborative community mural project with other local artists called Love Lost and Love Found which currently resides in Tin Pan Alley in downtown Bend. For the upcoming Winterfest in 2020, The Peoples’ Forge Project will hold an on-site workshop where festival goers, with no experience necessary, can forge more than 400 metal partstogether to create a community mural. There will be blacksmiths on site to assist anyone who wants to try their hand at forging metal. The finished piece will reflect the Central Oregon spirit of community and creativity.
“The arts community in Central Oregon is very close knit and supportive.
The friends and colleagues I’ve made in the arts world here are incredibly talented and generous and they continually inspire me to work harder, create more, push my limits, and share my knowledge,” says Kellen. Another example of the strong community is the Central Oregon Metal Arts Guild. Founded in 1998, the group meets monthly to share ideas, discuss different techniques and build a stronger metal arts community. Bateham served as President of the Guild and is a board member of the Northwest Blacksmith Association. His work may be seen at the Workhouse, Bend. WorkhouseBend.org
If there was ever an artist that understands her craft piece by piece, it’s Rochelle Rose-Schueler. With her Wild Rose Mosaics, Rochelle starts with small individual shards of glass or tile on a macro level to build public art, and functional, architectural and sculptural mosaics. With an early interest in architecture and alternative energy, she always had a passion for the natural world. Rochelle brings her understanding of a wide range of arts and craft to her work. Her experience with screen-printing, tie-dye, homebuilding, welding, metal arts and ceramics led her to a 2012 discovery of the language of mosaic.
“My contemporary mosaic work is inspired by nature, mathematics, and engineering structure
and is a continuous process of exploring and refining a personal abstract language,” she says. She has traveled to work on commissioned and public art projects in New Orleans, San Francisco, and Mexico. In Jacmel, Haiti, she facilitated the creation of a large-scale tile mural in a reconstructed hospital after their earthquake. She experienced how public art can transform a space with a sense of pride, and then the economic, social and psychological effects that has on a community. That community spirit is reflected in her Bend project, Ripple Effect a 4-foot x 8-foot mural created with helping hands of people who were invited to contribute a small piece to the bigger picture. That piece was juried into the 2019 Mosaic Arts International exhibition and can be seen in the breezeway of the Box Factory. WildroseArtworks.com