Sarah Dionne

Functional and Decorative Warm Glass Art

Cold Lake Women of Influence 2014 Awards

I am so pleased to share with everyone these awards. I was chosen by the Cold Lake Women of Influence committee to create five awards for their five categories for which they award a special and deserving women in Cold Lake, Alberta. The awards ceremony took place on Friday, 07 March 2014, at 4 Wing Cold Lake. Prior to the awards, I gave a short speech explaining my inspiration and some of my process for fabricating these awards. For more details on this process, please visit my blog, where I will post more photos and explain more of my process. 

As soon as I saw the categories for the Women of Influence awards, and that the committee was looking for a local artist to create their awards this year, I knew what I wanted to accomplish. The four award categories are in sync with one of my favorite subjects of inspiration: the four traditional elements (air, fire, water, earth). The elements are a main source of inspiration in much of my work (and in projects yet to be completed). My connection to this theme stems from my spirituality and connection to nature. 


​ I assigned an element to each category: Air to Business and Professional, Fire to Art and Culture, Water to Health and Wellness, and Earth to Community and Volunteerism. I was amazed at how well these four categories fit with traditional associations of each element. Air is linked to communication and new beginnings, which fits with the Business world. Fire is linked with creativity and passion, which describes anyone in the Arts. Water is linked with healing and compassion, which is Health and Wellness. Earth is linked with life and death, and to connections with our loved ones. This fits perfectly with the spirit of Community and Volunteerism. The Overall Woman of Influence award was a combination of all these qualities, and it a representation of our spirit, our centre that is the strength our other qualities rest on. I chose colours and symbols that relate with their respective element.

Once I completed sketches of each award, I began the planning process. Working with glass is complex and requires an extensive knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of glass, in order to accurately predict your final results. The more variables you can control during the heating and cooling process, the more likely your project will be successful.

These awards are a block of solid glass that started out as eight separate layers. The glass used is manufactured especially for glass fusing, and has a different chemical composition then normal window glass. Some of these layers were pre-fired, meaning they had a cycle in the kiln prior to the final firing. I created large multi-coloured pieces of glass using a technique called a pot melt, which consists of taking coloured pieces, placing them in a terra cotta flower pot, and literally meting the glass to the point it oozes out of the bottom hole in the pot and makes a beautiful puddle in the kiln. I then cut out the curved shape in each. I chose this curved shape because these awards are for women, after all, and women have curves!

The symbols in each award were painted on other glass layers using specialized glass enamel paints. Once heated, these paints sink ever so slightly into the surface of the melted glass and become a part of the glass. The final firing of the eight layers to create the block takes about two days to complete. The glass is slowly heated to 1470 degrees Fahrenheit, and then cooled extremely slowly. The firing schedule is digitally controlled in the kiln, using a program that I designed specifically for this piece. The process of cooling the glass evenly is called tempering, and is critical to get right. If not done properly, the piece could crack or explode.

​As you can see, each one of these awards was created with care, attention to detail, and with much love. It is my sincere wish that each one of the award recipients is reminded of that love after they take it home and each time they look at it. 

The evening's guest speaker was Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians. She received my "Scattered Plate" as a thank-you gift from the committee. I was so pleased she enjoyed it!