Artist profile: Alissa Faber, glass artist

Deep in the Vermont forest, artist Alissa Faber trudges through the terrain dragging a piece of decaying wood behind her. This log, once dead on the forest floor, might be overlooked by any other, but in Faber’s eyes this is an opportunity to create.
Returning to her studio space at Burlington City Arts (BCA), she tosses the timber to dry amongst a heap of other potential wood pieces. The industrial fans offer some relief from the heat generated by the molten glass that surrounds her. Artisans dance around one another shouting direction over blasting music and smoke fumes. It is loud and chaotic, but it is part of her artistic process.
Surrounded by the madness of the studio, Faber grabs her gloves and her steel pipe to start her newest piece. In a 2100-degree Fahrenheit furnace is the molten glass that clings to her pipe as she collects her first batch. Her glass form always begins as a small bubble, which she creates by putting the steel pipe to her mouth and channeling air, slowly filling and expanding the hot glass. Faber shapes her glass forms using a number of different materials including water-soaked wood blocks and wet newspaper. While still blowing air through the pipe she is able to get the preferred shape, depending on the wooden form she chooses as her base. From the pile of drying timber that Faber has collected, she chooses her base and slowly lowers the hollowed form onto the wood. She allows it to melt and hug itself around the bark, blackening the wood with its high temperature. This labor-intensive series of steps creates what Faber calls her “Blackened Timber” collection.
It was love at first sight for Faber and glass blowing. En route to her freshman orientation at Alfred University in New York (where she received her BFA in sculpture in 2009), she stopped in at the Corning Museum of Glass. The shapes and forms taken on by the molten glass amazed Faber, and in that moment she proclaimed herself a glassblower.
Lucky for her, Alfred University offered a glass program. She signed up, and then spent much of the next four years within the walls of the glass studio. While she continued to pursue her original interest in clay and other sculptural materials, her real passion was glass. Glass blowing offered an immediate form or transformation; clay took more time to create and more time to dry.
Today, Faber is most recognized by her “Blackened Timber” collection, which features a glass vessel that has been formed to sit comfortably within a found wood form. Wood is commonly used as a mold in glass blowing to create consistent shapes and streamline the fabrication process. The irregularity of the vessels molded by the decayed timber offers an organic and individualized shape that Faber likes to view as a “lens or a window” to the beauty that she saw in the found material.
“As an artist, you wear many hats,” Faber explained, and that she does. Faber resides in Burlington and teaches ceramics classes to both adults and Middle School students for BCA. She loves being involved in the city and with her peers, bringing awareness to the arts, including her recent participation in a mural project repainting the city’s mall with high school students. She also practices yoga regularly and is an avid reader, always striving to learn more about her art form and beyond.
“I love the process and I hope to blow glass for a long time and continue to learn about new mediums and add new materials to my work. I think every idea develops the more you work with it, so I’m not sure where the Blackened Timber series will go, but I know it will keep evolving as I grow as a person and artist.”
Faber’s “Blackened Timber” collection can be found at Edgewater Gallery at Middlebury Falls. 

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