From STAFF REPORTS
The rhythmic ping of a shard of glass ever so delicately placed on a swirl of green and blue that will soon be fired anywhere between 1,099 °F to 1,501 °F ending with a result of a fluted vase, a 4-piece plate, or a coaster is sure to complement any coffee table. This is how Karen Hitchcock, a seasoned glass fusion artist and McKinney Center teacher, spends many of her days.
As Hitchcock lays a sheet of glass beneath a blade to begin the glass fusion process, she tells how her life as an artist and instructor unraveled. Hitchcock comes from a long line of artists, she grew up in New York with parents who worked at the Corning Glass Center and a sister who was an accomplished potter. A young Hitchcock reminisces on visiting the Corning Glass Center for school trips, recalling that as the instant when her love for art first blossomed.
As her eyes are fixed on the minuscule glass piece in-between the tweezers she is carefully holding, she points with her other hand to a small kiln in the corner of her studio. “I’ve had that one since the beginning” Hitchcock says, alluding to a story waiting to be told through a simple object. Hitchcock once owned her own business as a custom picture framer until her husband bought her that small kiln, she then sold her business and got into glass.
When Hitchcock is asked to dot the moment in the time line of her life when she decided glass fusion was her true passion she would say, “When I began teaching at Rochester Arc and Flame.” Those students and experiences provided her with life-lasting inspiration that delivers her daily motivation.
One of the things that drew Hitchcock to Tennessee would be the lower cost of living and one of the cleanest lake in the world, Watauga Lake. However, one of the things that keeps her in Tennessee is the McKinney Center in Jonesborough.
Hitchcock’s first experience with the McKinney Center demonstrates the friendly and welcoming nature that is typical of Jonesborough. Hitchcock happened upon the Art Glass gallery on Main Street, amidst searching for a piece for her kiln. There she met Steve Cook who pointed her in the direction of the McKinney Center, but not without displaying true southern hospitality. Cook first took her to Earth and Sky so she could experience their delightful chocolate masterpieces.
When Hitchcock walked into the McKinney Center she ran into Pam Daniels, Special Programs Coordinator. Hitchcock explained what she was searching for and Daniels knew just where to get it.
Daniels offered to pick up the piece for Hitchcock, considering she was heading to the kiln parts store, but in the meantime Daniels offered to take that piece off of her kiln for Hitchcock to use until she could get the new one. Hitchcock was blown away by the kindness from Daniels, “I was like Wow! I’m not used to that. Up in New York it’s not really like that.”
That simple encounter snowballed into Hitchcock being part of Fine Art in the Park, a fine art show the McKinney Center holds annually, and then becoming one of their art teachers.
You can find Hitchcock at the McKinney Center working with glass while sharing that passion with her students.
Be a part of Karen Hitchcock’s story by joining in on one of the Glass Fusion Workshops she will be teaching at the McKinney Center Feb. 17, March 6 and April 4. For more information contact Theresa Hammons, McKinney center Director, at [email protected] or call 423-753-0562.