Tucked away in the quaint Marin town of San Anselmo, just North of San Francisco, is the home studio of Kathleen Walbridge housing kilns, glass cutters and beautiful pieces of glass art reminiscent of meticulously arranged patchwork quilts.
Kathleen never imagined herself as a successful owner of a fused glass art business as her children grew up. As they became more independent, Kathleen enrolled in a two year program in a local college and fell in love with the art of melting carefully cut and arranged glass together to create beautiful coasters, sushi plates and other items for home decor.
Kathleen converted her garage into a full blown studio, now known as KMW Glass Art, housing two kilns, a variety of glass cutters, a wet saw, and a lap grinder. “My husband has been very understanding,” Kathleen laughs. “I suddenly took over the space and turned it into a dream studio that allows me to create such lovely work.”
Large sheets of heavy glass delivered by truck are cut down to manageable sizes with the aide of large cutters. Kathleen lays out her pieces onto molds within the kiln, carefully arranging and rearranging until the patterns are perfect with vivid colors of glass.
“I love using bright colors to make a piece stand out,” she says. “The reds are particularly special because they have flecks of gold in them.”
Glass fusion is an art that takes time and patience because of the fragile medium. The kiln heats up and cools downs slowly. After eight hours, Kathleen can finally open the lid to examine the end result. “I opened the lid early a couple of times and the cold air entering into the kiln shocked the glass, shattering pretty large pieces. It taught me patience and that it’s worth the wait,” Kathleen says.
Kathleen is proud of her work, contributing to her community as an artist and a creator of something made with quality in mind. She says, “People want to buy local. It’s as though people are waking up and realizing we have quality craftsmen and women right here. They don’t want stuff made overseas anymore.”