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Glass Action

Now That She Makes Shimmering Plates and Bowls, This Designer Doesn't Do Windows Anymore

November 08, 1998|Judy Prouty

"Color has a lot to do with my mood," says designer Beatrice Tesdorpf about her line of vividly patterned hand-made glass plates, platters, bowls and pea pod-shaped vessels. The striped and dotted pieces shimmer in hues ranging from emerald green, lime, aquamarine and purple to yellow, fuchsia, orange and cranberry. No two color combinations are ever quite alike. "I might be inspired by fabric or a painting, or I will just play with pieces on my light table and come up with an idea," explains Tesdorpf, who has been creating art glass for about five years.

The Swiss-born Tesdorpf first worked in leaded glass as a college student in Paris. "I studied all the church windows," she says. After moving to Los Angeles in 1976, she began making stained-glass windows and lamps, undertaking commissions and site-specific work for Southern California architects and designers. But she eventually grew frustrated. "Leaded glass is so boring, so flat," she says. "I started to think more about shading, dimension and depth."

Looking for a new way to express her creativity, Tesdorpf signed up for a glass-painting class at the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, founded by master artist Dale Chihuly. There, she became so captivated by fused glass that she later studied the technique at a workshop in Oakland. When she returned home to Malibu Lake, she bought a kiln and experimented with fusing colorful glass strips into decorative shapes. For each piece, she cuts colored glass into strips or discs, sandwiches them between clear glass and, depending on the desired shape, places them in a fiberglass or steel mold in a kiln fired to 1,500 degrees for at least 12 hours. After the objects cool, their edges are ground and polished. "It's a 48-hour process from start to finish," says the artist, whose work is available at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills and Soolip Bungalow and Dialogica, both in West Hollywood.

Until recently, Teasdorpf commuted about a half-mile down the road to work in a neighbor's garage. But with a new light-filled studio in her own backyard, she is much happier now. "I spend a lot of time in the studio, too much. But at least I can go in the middle of the night in my nightgown to check the kiln."

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