Lowercase talked with glass artist Sarabeth Post about crafting energy fields out of glass, finding inspiration in RuPaul's Drag Race, and her time as a Core Fellow at Penland.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
LC: How and where did you get into glass work?
SBP: I grew up in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, and moved to Louisville, KY for school in 2011. I started learning in Harrisburg, and went to Louisville for my BA in 3D Studios with a focus on glass work.
My very first experience with glass was at my community college right after high school, where they had a marketing program in contemporary craft. It was really interesting: how to do prototypes, classes on business management, that sort of thing. Moving for the BFA was a big switch away from business to more conceptual work.
What are you working on these days?
My favorite piece right now is something I just made, a wearable sculpture that has pink and blue cords running through 28 glass components. It fits like a bib. It’s not an everyday thing to wear, but it’s the closest I’ve come to illustrating the energy body, and it references meridians and textual energy diagrams.
I’m loving making a series of everyday rings right now. They’re a lot of fun, they’re chunky- I’ve been calling them “the chunky line”. They’re based off rings you wore as a kid- those thick plastic faceted rings that were so popular. I want to start doing some faceting.
How do you make a chunky ring?
They’re solid when I start out: we purchase glass in different colors and clear rods. I usually start out with clear- a little or a lot depending on the window or depth I’m trying to create. I could start with a really thick piece of clear, then with another color rod, heat the tip and paint the color onto the clear. Then do the same with another color. Then heat it all into a mass, a really hot sphere. Then I taper that sphere so it’s like a wedge, and pierce a hole through the tapered part. Using another tool I get in and widen the hole: I have a ring mandrel for metalsmithing, and I use that to size it accurately.
How has your time as a Penland Core Fellow shaped your work?
I am always doing various things: consistency for me is that I’m always working, not that I’m always on the same path. Penland has been great for that- I’ve been able to take on more focused learning for a week or two weeks at a time, in media and techniques that are totally different from how I would normally be working.
Last summer I took an embroidery class- I don’t use embroidery that much, but going through the motions and taking in that knowledge has an effect on my work. Having my hands on a different material, seeing if I can bring those skills into glassmaking, which is my primary, has been really helpful and interesting.
You can go anywhere and sit and embroider, which is refreshing. It’s a completely different pace from glass: If you’re flameworking, you’re barely taking a break. When you start a project, you’re in it until the end.
You’re a master Reiki practitioner. Does that come into your work?
Reiki is an energy healing method-- I first learned about twelve years ago in Harrisburg.
The body of work I’m producing right now is clear glass, and I use different colored cords to show the channels of the invisible field around our bodies. The different colors in my work is often a reference to chakras: I just made this necklace that is a radial shape that hangs right on your chest, your heart chakra. Often imagery is green, but with this particular work I used pink by choice because I liked the particular color. The pattern and radial shape are in reference to the representation of chakras as wheels that are churning.
A lot of your work is similar in scale. Is that intentional?
Because of the physical nature of my work with people, I tend to gravitate towards work that has to do with the body. In the past a lot of the objects I have made are intimate: I want to make something that is just enjoyed. Often color brings that enjoyment for me- I love this color so much, I’ll stare at it, I want to hold it. It holds some kind of power or a moment that’s just nice.
Where do you find colors that inspire or excite you?
I’ve been doing a lot of -- what I call -- research, which involves mainly looking at the sky. I look at transitions between color, at sunset or when clouds come through and there's a rich kind of overlapping. I find inspiration in that for sure.
This is funny, but I found a lot of inspiration in this last season of RuPaul’s drag race-- From day one I was team Jaida. Her style is amazing: one thing I really like- some of her outfits are, like, just purple. She takes over that color: the whole gown, all the accessories, the hair and the makeup, just brings a power to a certain color. I’ve been very inspired by her.
I’d like to do some residencies after Penland. I want to continue some ideas that I’ve just started to scratch the surface of. In the past I’ve worked a lot with children and taught after school art. That’s really important to me- maintaining and evolving a studio practice and hopefully continuing to have fun with kids making stuff!