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ARTIST OF THE MONTH - May 2001

Reflections on Dorina Krüsemer - A Stained-Glass Artist
by Annabelle Numaguchi

Dorina Krüsemer’s personality mirrors her multi-colored stained glass creations. Like her work, aptly entitled “Glass Expressions;” she is vibrant, elegant and imaginative in a very alluring manner. Dorina has resided and worked as an artist in Moab since 1991. When I asked Dorina, a world-traveler and native of Hamburg, Germany, how she chose to settle here, she responded that while vacationing in Australia, she met a Moabite, who sparked her interest in visiting the red rocks of southern Utah. After traveling throughout the West of the U.S., she decided to return to Moab and pioneer the art of stained glass here.

Prior to moving to America, Dorina spent ten years as a co-owner of a stained glass studio in Hamburg, where she designed custom-made pieces for hotels, dancing palaces and bars. Her partner, and mentor, Robert W. L. Butt, an English artist trained at Oxford, motivated Dorina to learn the craft of stained glass while she was earning her degree in Pharmacy. Once she graduated, she spent a year as a pharmacist before dedicating herself to stained glass, working in the studio and co-authoring and designing three bilingual pattern books, sold in the U.S. and Germany.
Relocating to Moab provided Dorina an opportunity to shift her focus from large stained glass commissions to creating smaller pieces of art, including her now extensive line of jewelry. She says that she “never got to do the small stuff,” until she set up her own studio, a cozy, well-organized place in the back of her pastoral home. Dorina began using stained glass to make her line of jewelry, named “Moonlight Creations,” in honor of the time of night when creativity and productivity strike most often. She soon veered into working with gem stones and fused layers of glass, which result in elegant earrings, resplendent necklaces and luminous hair barrettes, all touched with a wisp of fantasy.

Preferring the non-symmetrical, wavy lines characteristic of the turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau movement, Dorina solders copper and silver wire over her pieces, creating a free-flowing form through her work, which has become her trademark. The trust she has in her artistic instincts is again exhibited in her approach to her craft. She begins welding the wire onto the gem or glass, and then lets “it go the way it goes,” which accounts for the very natural movement one sees in her art.

Now that she has had a chance to pursue her interest in creating smaller works, such as the copper dragonfly delicately resting on the crescent glass moon that hangs from the window of her studio, filtering glittering sky-blue light, Dorina is focusing again on larger works and interior design. Her clientele includes writer Robert Fulghum, The Ranch House Restaurant, and The Sorrel River Ranch. Her clients realize that stained glass gives a unique, vibrant flare to decor, and can be used to soften the glare of lamps and lanterns. Also, including a stained glass window or door panel is a wonderful way of interweaving an original work of art into the very fabric of one’s home.

What particularly differentiates a professional stained glass artist’s craft from commercially produced pieces is originality and workmanship. Dorina has mastered both the traditional lead method of stained glass making and the more modern copperfoil method. The old church windows that most of us associate with stained glass were created using the former method of fitting the glass fragments into the grooves of the U or H shaped lead rims, and then soldering only the corners of shape. Dorina still uses this method, although she prefers the method invented by L. C. Tiffany, in which adhesive copper foil is soldered along the entire rim of the glass fragments. This latter method allows for more intricacy in the patterns.

So, what’s the difference between a hand-crafted lamp versus a factory-produced one? Dorina humorously likens buying a mass-produced piece to “the difference between a gourmet restaurant and cheap fast-food.” Technology has facilitated the art of glass cutting, but it cannot capture the combined creative power of the brain, the body and years of training in the art of stained glass. Anyone can operate a powered glass cutter, but often the completed piece is devoid of craftsmanship, lacking artistic color arrangement and showing inferior solder work. Dorina’s stained glass pieces demonstrate this distinction beautifully. When looking at her one of her delicate glass jewelry boxes, necklaces or lanterns, it is hard to imagine a machine or an amateur creating something so original, delicate-looking and alluring.

Currently, Dorina prefers working with dichroic glass, a shiny chameleon glass that changes color when tilted at varying angles. Unlike irridescent glass which reflects mottled colors on its surface, dichroic glass absorbs oxides all the way through, resulting in a brilliant sheen. The effect of using dichroic glass as the base of a jewelry box is dazzling; setting the rest of the clear glass aglow. Dorina’s mastery of her art allows her to use this luminous glass in her work with powerful results.

Since her arrival ten years ago, Dorina has been an active participant in the Moab community. Along with two women, she founded Pet Friends, a precursor to the Humane Society. Her inheritance from this endeavor is four healthy, happy dogs and a feeling of belonging to the community. Dorina has continued participating in local events, most notably the Annual Moab Arts Festival. Although she has been a loyal presenter for the last nine years, since the fair began, she will not be able to exhibit her works this summer. This is unfortunate for those continuously intrigued by her work or looking forward to discovering it, but not for her; her May wedding conflicting with the fair impedes her participation this year. Very little could draw Dorina away from exhibiting her works at the fair, but she will be marrying Moab-resident Damian Nash on the same weekend this year. Congratulations to them both!
For those impatient to check out Dorina’s creations, visit the Earth Studio on Main Street. Also, keep your eyes open for gorgeous stained glass windows in businesses and residences throughout Grand County. Dorina Krüsemer can be contacted directly at (435) 259-7886 or dorina@lasal.net.

 
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