In my work, I like to use traditional decorative elements of glassblowing, including frit, glass cane and metal leaf, in unorthodox ways. I often use these elements on a piece’s interior surface to create unusual textures or patterns. It is an approach to glassblowing that works against the grain of conventional glass decoration – most decorative elements are added to the surface or sandwiched between layers of glass. This creates a piece that is meant to be viewed from only one direction. By working on the interior surface, I create vessels that more fully engage the viewer. The result edges the piece away from its utilitarian and traditional foundation and toward a more sculptural and interesting work of art.
St. Paul artist Fred Kaemmer has been creating hand-blown glass pieces for more than a decade. He enjoys forming simple, functional shapes then altering them to create objects of great visual interest and appeal. His combinations of clear and colored glass “frit,” inside, outside and through vessel forms makes his work particularly distinctive. He is also adept at the use of metal leaf decoration in his work.
After earning a degree in religion from Bates College, in Maine, Fred became a special student in glass at the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He states, “I began working with glass as a distraction from the nagging question of ‘What now?’ While at first glance there seems to be no common theme to my work, there is one overriding idea that repeatedly influences what and how I create each piece. It represents my own exploration of the ‘Craft vs. Art’ debate that is so common to this medium. I relish the ability to make a simple form well, but I love the idea of taking that piece just slightly further and turning it into something that would be awkward or difficult to actually use. Most all of my work reflects my enjoyment of moving a piece from its safe, traditional and utilitarian foundation to something more artistic and interesting to look at. The potential for this kind of work is nearly limitless and still, ironically, leaves me wondering, ‘What now?’ ”