TRENDER: Glassblower and Metal Worker Kim Vredenburg

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


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After teaching in Rhode Island for 30 years, Kim Vredenburg is now a full-time artist specializing in glassblowing and metal work. Photo: Beth Drainville

Kim Vredenburg is a skilled glassblower and metal worker in southern RI. She designs and crafts one-of-a-kind pens, pendants, earrings, bracelets, charms, and more, all handmade locally out of metals and blown glass. Her work has a wholesome, industrially natural feel about it, perfect for that artsy person on your Christmas list, or to add to your own collection. GoLocal sat down with her to talk to Vredenburg about her work. Find out what makes her a Trendsetter in the local art scene.

You taught for 30 years in RI. What led you to become an artist?

When I was teaching, I would work nights or weekends creating things. It was a way to unwind. Now that I am retired, I am able to devote more time to my art.

I've been working with glass for more than 25 years in one temperature or another. My local school district's Adult Education offered a class in Stained Glass, which is considered cold glass. After some time, I was working on a panel for my son and thought it would look better if it incorporated a fused element, so I started fusing (which is warm glass). The size of my kiln dictated that I could only fuse small pieces, perfect for making jewelry.

About ten years ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told them I wanted a beginners lampworking kit. All I wanted to do was make coordinating beads to go with my fused glass jewelry. Somehow that little Hot Head torch led to a glass studio, and a bigger torch, and lots of glass rods and tools. Funny, he hasn't asked me in recent years what I want for Christmas.

How has RI helped foster your work and business?

Recently the Rhode Island Legislature passed a bill creating the whole state of Rhode Island as an arts District, and therefore exempt from sales tax on original artwork. This will allow us to be more competitive with big-box stores or imported Items. Plus it also helps out the people that purchase fine art directly from the artists.

I'm also a member of an Etsy Street Team called Arts In RI, a diverse group of RI artisans committed to offering high quality, handmade alternatives to mass produced products. Due to the size of our state, we are able to meet regularly to share information related to improving our businesses...and have fun chatting.

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You are a skilled glassblower, but also work with metal. Can you talk about this combination of media?

I've used the process of electroforming to combine copper with my flameworked glass for quite a while now. The addition of metalwork to my glass just seemed a natural progression. There is something so appealing to me about the warm tones of metals with the coolness of glass. I feel it sets my work apart from more traditional glass jewelry.

Incorporating this also allows me to be more creative and be able to fabricate ideas that wouldn't be possible if I were using just glass.

What do you love most about being an artist in RI?

The thing I love most is, in a very short span of time, I can go from where I live in a rural area of Rhode Island to the city, whether it be to shop or to go to a play or to dine out. And the landscape varies from ocean coastline to rural farmland to urban cityscape, each providing its own inspiration or relaxation.

Do you have a personal flair or habit when making art?

Occasionally, I've been known to go out to my metals studio in PJs with coffee cup in hand.

Seriously, lots of times when I'm working on a piece, my mind wanders a bit and I start wondering, what if I do this or what if I do that tonight or what if I use this finding? What if I use this different technique? That can be a good thing, but it also can be a bad thing, especially if I have a deadline for what I'm supposed to be working on. It certainly has led to some interesting pieces.

You make jewelry that has been called "feminine industrial". Can you explain what that means?

I love working with vintage findings, keys, gears, and various metals like copper, brass, or stainless steel and they give an overall industrial look to my jewelry.

It's feminine because, even though my jewelry tends to be a good size, it's not overly clunky. The addition of chains or ribbons or color makes it end up being jewelry that women would wear. I am currently working on more unisex jewelry and some things that are not technically jewelry.

Where can people access your art?

Shows: My last show for this year is my favorite show, the Foundry Show, December 5-8 and December 13-15.


Stores: South County Artisans Loft (located at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory in Charlestown, RI); Luli Boutique, Providence, RI; D2Earth Gallery, Crown Pointe, IN


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