Studio Briefs – Linda Banks

Sharing my knowledge is very important to me. I like getting people hooked into experimenting with glass!  I teach the joy of life through my glass.

I’m a multi-media artist.  I took many classes in many different areas but finally realized that glass was my passion. I’m interested in many different things: glass, quilting, sewing, pottery, and gourds, silversmithing and beadwork.  What I’ve found is that they all overlap. One skill you learn from one can be applied to something else.

I grew up in a little town of Washington, CT.  When I was in sixth grade, this lady called Priscilla Porter came in with shoeboxes full of glass. We glued pieces together and she took them to her studio, fired them and brought them back to the school. I was hooked then!

Later on in life I started to work for Priscilla Porter in her glass studio in Washington, CT.  It was very early on in the fusing of flat glass (flat glass in the kiln.)  They didn’t sell compatible glass on the East coast at that time.  Nobody knew what fusing was. The compatibility issue didn’t allow us to go any further than what she was doing in her studio. So I started taking classes and going to shows that were nearby.

Now a renowned fused glass artist, Linda has since expanded on the art form, using her techniques and materials to produce various textures, iridescences, and shapes that shimmer and shine reflecting her whimsical spirit.

Within fusing, there are things like stringers, noodles, rods, and confetti — all made out of glass.  There’s also kiln casting, where you make a plaster and silica mold with clay and then fill the plaster mold with glass and fire it. I have a kiln that I put up on a ladder.  I put a flowerpot with glass in it and out comes molten glass that I can manipulate.  I call it a “squiggle machine!” Now it is called a Vitragraph Kiln.

I like learning something new.  It was a challenge to figure out how to make my own molds. Casting has always been challenging: to make something in clay, then figure out how to cast it so you have a mold that will show you what your glass piece is.

I’ve been teaching art in many forms to adults and children for over 40 years. I started out teaching three to five year olds, and I had a wonderful time with them. Teaching is very important to me. Oh yes, I like getting people sucked into glass!  I love to teach the joy of life through my glass. 

When I used to teach children’s classes, I hoped that if they didn’t remember me, or what they made in the class, they might remember that art was fun.

I get satisfaction from helping a student figure out a way to do something. One of the things I do with my students is they’ll come with a beautiful photo or design, and I’ll say “Why don’t you do that in glass?” and so we figure out a way to do that. I like being able to have our students make what they’d like to make; having the materials available; having the knowledge to be able to help them make what they’d like.  That’s important.  It’s not about me. 

I started working with the Brookfield Craft Center after taking some pottery classes that were offered. I had been doing pottery at Washington Art Association and then realized that I needed different classes and moved on to Brookfield Craft for variety. From there Kristen Muller asked me to teach and so that’s really how I got started teaching there. I like the challenge at Brookfield to put together a new class and figure out how to work out all the details.  Can I teach it in two days?  How do I work out the details of that?

The people at Brookfield make the difference.  They are a pretty dedicated bunch, and I’m very grateful to be able to teach there. It’s a wonderful place and so inspiring.

I’m not out to get recognition. Giving back, paying it forward is important to me. You know, I have fun. It’s been a nice journey, and I love sharing it with other people.

Story written by Terry Tougas and Linda Banks