After eight years of retirement and a couple of careers under his belt, Robert Tutty is excited to be presenting his first glass exhibit, at Robert Held Art Glass in Parksville.
Tutty is showcasing a variety of glass art – everything from jewelry to dishware. He worked with dichroic glass, which uses two colours and reacts to light in a different way than regular blown glass. The pieces he’s creating need to be fired in a kiln between three and four times.
“I discovered dichroic glass about four years ago, it’s not normally carried in the glass shops in Nanaimo and around here, but I was able to order some and I was just blown away with the colour and the different textures and it’s just incredible glass,” he said.
“When you fuse it, it maintains its texture, so if you’d had a ripple effect, you’d still get the ripples in it. That type of thing… it’s not a quickly made item.”
Tutty’s journey with glass is around five years underway. He had done stained glass years ago and wanted to do something artistic, but different than things he’d tried in the past. He saw a blown glass course in Nanaimo and took the jump.
“I retired out here in 2013 from Calgary, and after two years I was looking for something to do in an artistic way,” he said.
“I just thought it was so neat, that I went out and bought all the equipment and started ordering glass. I made a lot of plates and bowl at first and gave them all away.”
Tutty experimented with glass and jewlery making over the next few years and went to trade shows across North America with his wife, selling his pieces. However, he said it was hard to sell enough pieces to make it worth it. He views this first show as an opportunity to get his work out to the public.
“We just couldn’t get it to take off and I ended up with a lot of raw material left over, the dichroic glass, and I was trying to come up with a way to use it,” he said. “Between my wife and I, we decided that the best thing might be to try and use it in the bowl and the plates and get that vibrant colour.”
Although it’s been five years of working with glass, Tutty said his experience owning a factory that produced thermally fused melamine, as well as building houses, translates into the way he approaches working with glass today.
“Nothing like this, but working in my own factory, I did everything there, I hired, fired, did books, prepared equipment. And you get a lot of time where you’re fixing stuff, and it’s nice to use your hands,” he said. “Even in a mechanical sense, to see a positive result at the end of it, that kind of feeds into glass. Where you’re working with glass and you don’t know what you’re going to get until it comes out of the kiln because the heat will change its shape a little bit.”
You can catch Tutty’s work, which is available for purchase, at Robert Held Art Glass in Parksville at 708 Island Hwy E. They’re open on Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.