Art is described in the Webster’s dictionary as a skill acquired by study, observation or in this author’s observation just pure talent. An artist is the medium by which that skill is presented. An artist may use canvas, paper, metals, any material they find or glass.
Kathleen McBride is one such artist. One who can see art in most anything but chooses some of her favorite things to recreate or create art. Kathleen’s daughter finds it amusing that her mom can see an old window frame sitting out as someone’s trash and know her mom will stop to pick it up as Kathleen sees art everywhere. Maybe not today or tomorrow but someday soon that window will become a beautiful piece of art.
As a child, Kathleen knew that art was her calling. Her first interests in art came at about 8 years old when Kathleen entered a contest for Mr Bubbles. She had to do some coloring and more intricate work as requirement for the contest. Kathleen was pleased to win in the contest and her prize was a pink poncho with Mr Bubbles likeness brightly displayed. Her accolades did not stop there as she entered many more contests involving art and won. Many of you will remember the “Draw the turtle or face” advertisements in the backs of magazines and Kathleen won many of those categories. While the majority of her winnings were accolades and not so much in the “prize in hand” type it did encourage her to continue expressing herself through her artistic talents. Kathleen knew her paintings and drawings would lead her to more artistic expressions and clay became her new medium.
Kathleen first found clay. Clay required more creativity with her hands. She could mold pieces from a chunk of clay and create something beautiful and at times useful. Pots, bowls, tiles and other work took her to a new level of artistic ability under guidance of local clay artist Doug Oian. Much of the shaping and forming used in producing clay creations and the technicalities of using kilns were a bridge for Kathleens near future as a hot glass artist. Kathleen discovered this new love while attending an arts and crafts gallery in Wimberly circa 1995, where she learned glass fusing and fused her first bowl. Glass intrigued her and Kathleen knew she had found a place to express with a medium she loved. Information on the technicalities of heating and cooling rates for hot glass was very tightly held in the hot glass community at the time, but her thirst for knowledge spurred her need to master this new technique and she was able to find workshops that answered her questions. She learned the basics of glass fusing successfully. Since then she is largely self taught and today the knowledge is much more widely attainable in the art world where kilns control via computers have expanded and revolutionized hot glass as an art medium.
When heated, layers of glass fuse. They become one. The glass can then be slumped into a bowl or platter shape. It can also be “draped” over a tower creating unique folds and facets of beauty and allowing “one of a kind” designs to emerge in the glass creating bold pendant lights or gorgeous vases. Kathleen does all of this. Annealing the glass allowed it to heat to the desired temperature and then cool it properly to allow the glass to strengthen, remove stresses and become more durable. This occurs also in the kiln process of the piece. Kathleen said, “I cool my glass art down around 12 degrees an hour for safety and to keep the piece true.” Stress cracks can occur causing sometimes unwanted designing and actually can also cause wanted or desirable cracks or uniqueness to its design. This type of glass work does crack and shatter but not in the same way a baking or cooking dish shatters or breaks. Heating or tempering Kathleen’s glass hardens her work.
She created a piece she calls “Roadrunner in Flight”. This piece is incorporating multilayered methodologies including Kathleen’s signature “pot melts”, where she brings the glass to molten temperatures exceeding 1600F. By utilizing clay pots she allows the multiple colors of scrap glass to drip down through the holes to ripple and pool creating interesting designs. After the various layers of this beautiful piece came together, “Roadrunner In Flight” spent over 2.5 weeks in 4 cycles being heated and cooled in the kiln.
She does commissioned work, art shows, some galleries, and displays at her office and studio. Kathleen is not one to do many galleries other than her own displays due to the nature of pricing in galleries. She would rather her fans pay reasonable prices and she not have to mark up her art as required by galleries. This brings another facet of Kathleen’s basket of tools. A few years ago discovered that her love for running and doing marathons created some pain that needed attention she sought the help of a rather uncommon source-Rolfing.
The official definition of Rolfing is that one must experience it to understand it and its effects on the human body. Rolfing answered so many of Kathleen”s pain issues that she became a certified Rolfer. According to the website “Rolfing refers to system of body education and physical manipulation. Stress, strain, traumatic injury and even simple everyday life can cause an array of issues. Rolfing unwinds those issues in your body facilitating the rediscovery of your natural grace and youthfulness.” Kathleen had this to say on the website,
“I became Rolfer after experiencing the healing effects it held for me in relation to a running injury while training for a marathon in the 1980’s. What started out as “Please fix my feet!” turned into “Wow! I thought that pain was just because I was getting older” ….and my Rolfer fixed that too! — I was 30 years old at the time! LOL! A short time later I left the telecommunications profession to return to school and become a Certified Rolfer…A decision I still relish today. I had always been interested in health and was in the process of looking for a health oriented career path when I stumbled onto Rolfing….the rest is a wonderful and fulfilling history. Kathleen is a member of the Rolf Institute and you are encouraged to do some research for your own health.
Rolfing did not replace Kathleen’s artistic work with glass it just enhanced her joy. Kathleen is a licensed Rolfer and her office is in San Antonio and displays some of her glass work. Kathleen’s contact information will be at the bottom of this article.
As a resident of Boerne for over 20 years now, Kathleen homeschooled her daughter Chloe, through high school and with their affiliations with various homeschool groups, Kathleen taught art classes including hot glass classes that were semester long. These classes allowed the students and their parents to enjoy creating with glass. The absorption of the students brought happiness to both Kathleen and her students. Projects for fused glass can take a short time or weeks and even months to complete. Glass work art uses so many techniques and talents from fusing, heat direction, layering, sandblasting, tempering, temperature and timing.
One of Kathleen’s more recent pieces was a glass fused picture in front of one of the historic fronts Zoellers grocery store and Vogt’s drygoods in Boerne along with the proprietors in front of the storefront. It incorporated imaging and sandblasting. Today this is Bear Moon Bakery. Kathleen has also done some memorial pieces, one for a beloved pet who passed away using one of her own dogs as a model and some of the remembered pet’s ashes melding in the glass memorial.
Fusing glass is not the same as glass blowing which is another art value for glass. When fusing glass and using the kiln, the process requires knowledge of tempering, cooling and heating. The artist, Kathleen, must impart the need to understand why each step is crucial to a precise piece for the outcome desired. When she does work for sale, Kathleen showcases it in many venues-her Rolfing office, her facebook page, Boerne market days, and Boerne Handmade shows. Kathleen has many affordable pieces such as ornaments, hangings, décor and more. Scraps in glass are desirable for future projects and Kathleen keeps them all!!!
Kathleen’s projects include light fixtures and windows. One project with a window was a couple whose neighbor could see in their more private room of their home through a window that the neighbor’s window overlooked. Kathleen took a window and created a fused glass design that was beautiful to look at while providing more privacy in the replacement. Kathleen sees potential in lamp post lights glass, most light fixtures, ornamental, and some dishes.
Most of Kathleen’s glass art time today is spent creating in her studio, however, Kathleen still teaches classes on a limited basis in her studio. These classes can be full or part day, couples evenings, girl’s night out or even family group classes where she encourages family to create a piece together or an individual piece. Kathleen loves to garden, sew and work around her 5 acres with her menagerie of animals. Her favorite joy is her daughter, Chloe, who will graduate college in a few weeks. Kathleen is looking forward to that moment. Chloe has some interest in the glass art as she has spent a great amount of time in the studio creating some art of her own. She has found a talent in creating custom glass beads with glass rods and a torch.
The result is stunning.
Kathleen is also active in the Rolfing office and finds time to run. Kathleen is one of the founders of Boerne Runners. She has been running for 40 years and one of her running projects is the 254 club which involves running in every county in Texas. One of her ongoing goals is to complete all 254. Maintaining her mental, physical and emotional health is important to whom she is and Kathleen is wonderful. To reach Kathleen and see her works or find a special gift, to reach her for Rolfing, or to find one of her classes please call her at 210-317-4242 or her email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit