Amber DeBirk is a multifaceted artist; I'm a big fan of her fused glass works. Amber owns Urbanscrap Art, which is part gallery, part boutique. Basically everything from original artworks to jewelry, to mittens -- all made from scrap or eco-friendly materials. Take note that the holidays are quickly approaching, and this is a good spot to find a one-off gift for the person that's got everything. Stop by Amber’s shop to say 'hi' during business hours, or catch her creative act on the 3rd Friday of every month for Gallery Stroll from 6-9 pm. We chatted with her a bit to get the skinny on the glass and all the other mediums she's got her hands in. Read on...
What types of pieces do you make? I was known for my glass belt buckles that I sold at the Park City and Utah Arts Festival, but I also make jewelry and large wall pieces out of recycled glass. Recent projects and gallery shows have incorporated large scale sculpture and wall pieces made out of junk mail, painted and coated with resin. I also work with metal and love my plasma cutter.
How did you get started with glass? My minors in college in the late 90's were pottery and photography. In searching for a kiln to build my pottery studio, I came across a glass kiln. I took a workshop in 2000 and never turned back. I love glass. I was the Director of the Recycling Coalition of Utah, and naturally I gravitated towards scrap materials for my projects.
What is the process of fusing glass like? I have to acquire my glass first, which means dumpster diving, working with restaurants for their empty bottles, framing companies for their scrap and window company's throw away piles. I get lots of mysterious deliveries from folks leaving their bottles at my doorstep too. I then have to do test firing to see if the glass is compatible. I then design my pieces and fire my projects. Some pieces have to be fired multiple times. Most projects require work with a tile saw and wet belt sander, referred to as "cold working". Kiln temperatures range from 1000-1500 degrees depending on the project, and some pieces are fired for 12+ hours.
Any challenges in working with glass? The most challenging part for me is working with recycled glass. The majority of glass artists buy glass that is compatible for firing. I don't have that luxury with recycled glass, it is all an experiment, but I love the challenge of working with recycled glass and its outcome.
Describe your favorite piece you’ve ever made: One of my first mixed media pieces. I made an abstract sculpted flower from old window glass and mounted it on a painting that I did. The stem is an old rope and the leaves were vintage hinges from my grandmother's old dresser. There is also a vintage flower seed packet incorporated into the painting. It is a larger piece and I have never been able to part with it.
What is your favorite medium currently, and why? I have been enjoying working with resin, junk mail and paint lately. My finished pieces resemble glass. My show this past year at Charley Hafen Gallery had some of these new pieces.
Where can people find your work? I have pieces for sale right now at the Utah Arts Festival Gallery Holiday Show and Art Access. My studio and boutique is open frequently for the holidays. People can follow me on Facebook and be notified of my events and upcoming sales. I exhibit frequently at galleries as well.
Who is your favorite artist (alive or dead)? There are so many artists that I love. I got a chance to be on the jury for the Utah Arts Festival a couple of years ago and it is hard to say. Although, our house is kind of a "Greg White Gallery," we just love his work and he is local.
Do you have any shows coming up? I have a few shows coming up at the studio, December 4th & 5th from 6-9pm, and December 7th the Baldwin Radio Factory Art Studios will all be open from 3-9pm for our holiday art show. There will be live music and 25+ studios will be open. I also have my art in the Art Access & UAF's Holiday Gallery Show through December. This time of the year, people love my recycled wine bottle glass ornaments.
Urbanscrap | 3474 S 2300 E, Studio #4 | 801.842.9167