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Glass Window Art by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Alice Beckstrom of Richland, WA

Beauty from Broken Pieces — The Glass Art of Alice Beckstrom

Glass Window Art by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Alice Beckstrom of Richland, WA

Glass Window Art by Wenaha Gallery guest artist, Alice Beckstrom of Richland, WA

Recycling is not a new, chic concept.

Eighteen centuries ago, Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria urged others to not throw away items that could benefit one’s neighbor.

Prisms of Hope, glass art by Alice Beckstrom

Prisms of Hope, glass art by Alice Beckstrom

“Goods are called goods because they can be used for good, in the hands of those who use them properly,” Clement said.

Back in the present, one person who uses goods properly and with a sense of their value is glass artist Alice Beckstrom. The Richland artist, whose business motto is, “Recycled, Repurposed, Recaptured into Functional Art,” collaborates with local glass replacement businesses by picking up their unwanted materials — miscuts and wrong orders that are too expensive to ship back.

“It’s a win/win for all,” Beckstrom says. “Most recently, with more people becoming aware of my art and the desire to keep as much as possible out of the landfills, I often get emails and notes letting me know when and where old doors or windows are available.”

And what does she do with buckets of broken glass, at her disposal within a 500-square-foot home studio?

Krustallos Candle Holder, repurposing unwanted, cast-out tempered windows and doors into beautiful, usable art, by Alice Beckstrom.

Krustallos Candle Holder, repurposing unwanted, cast-out tempered windows and doors into beautiful, usable art, by Alice Beckstrom.

“I have always tried to look for new and interesting ways to work and create with glass,” Beckstrom says of her 40-year career as an artist using this varied, variegated, versatile, yet challenging medium.  A chance encounter with the creations of California artist Ellen Blakely, whose tempered glass murals span city blocks, inspired Beckstrom to add experimenting with recycled materials to the traditional outlet of stained glass work.

“(Blakely’s art) was unbelievably beautiful, and I recognized then the unending possibilities of tempered glass as a base for a myriad of art forms,” Beckstrom says.

Hours of “practice, practice, practice” in conjunction with “experimenting with no particular expectations” have led to a collection of pieces unique in their style, form, and function, ranging from Krustallos (Greek for crystal) candle bases to full-sized skis. These latter, embellished  with broken tempered glass pieces glued across the surface to create a design or message, are especially popular with visitors at the Art Works Gallery in Sandpoint, ID, where tourists fly in from all over the world to the nearby Schweitzer Ski Resort.

Tempered glass embellished skis by Alice Beckstrom

Tempered glass embellished skis by Alice Beckstrom

This last winter, a couple from Scotland fell in love with one of Beckstrom’s skis, but shipping it back was the problem: how does one package a long, glass-encrusted ski so that it safely arrives at its destination, but doesn’t cost as much as a plane ticket to do so?

“The worker at the UPS store was a skier himself, and he suggested that, since they had all had their skis brought with them, why not just bubble wrap this ski and slide it into their ski bag that they were already going to check at the airlines.

“So, off my ski went to Scotland!”

With gallery and gift shop locations throughout the Pacific Northwest, Beckstrom finds herself scheduling a regular loop around Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, restocking unique work that is easier to drive in than ship. As an added bonus, she enjoys mini-vacations in some of the region’s most beautiful places.

“This is one of the biggest benefits of my art,” Beckstrom says. “I love the travel opportunities.”

Sometimes those travel opportunities take Beckstrom to exceptionally unusual venues, like the local home of a U.S. Congressman, the wife of whom fell in love with a piece displayed at the Prosser Art Walk and Wine Gala.

Santa in Glass by Alice Beckstrom

Santa in Glass by Alice Beckstrom

“To guarantee its safe arrival at their home, I offered to deliver it myself the following morning. Carol (the Congressman’s wife) was very gracious and gave me a tour of their home.”

Other pieces in prominent places include an Oakland Raider’s stained glass window installed in the owner’s box at the Oakland Raiders Coliseum, as well as numerous stained glass “trophy windows” custom designed for golf tournaments and country clubs, a welcome variation to “the same old engraved crystal bowls for tournament awards.

“Everyone was thrilled to have something new and original.”

Given Beckstrom’s commitment to, and creativity with, working with recycled materials, one can’t help but think that Clement of Alexandria would heartily approve. With each piece made from more than 80 percent recycled materials, Beckstrom’s art is earth conscious and eco-friendly, which in itself is its own inspiration:

There is a quote Beckstrom uses on her website, and while the most frustrating aspect about it is that she has not been able, in ten years of searching, to find its author, the words fit perfectly with her process of thinking and creating:

“When you are left with nothing but broken pieces . . . take them . . . rearrange them . . . and make a masterpiece!”

Wenaha GalleryAlice Beckstrom is the featured Pacific Northwest Art Event artists from Monday, August 15 through Saturday, September 10.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

 

Fishing Tackle Boxes Make Great Artist Studios — The Hand-crafted Jewelry of Anna Steinhoff

A selection of jewelry by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

A selection of jewelry by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Artists work in all sorts of spaces, but the waiting room of an airport has to be one of the more exceptional studio venues. Recently, while fellow travelers absorbed themselves in cell phones and digital notebooks, jewelry maker Anna Steinhoff settled back in a coffee-shop rocking chair and created wearable accessories until her flight boarded.

“I keep my supplies organized in tackle boxes,” the Dayton artist explains, “and I have one tackle box that has a little bit of everything for traveling.”

Bracelets by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Bracelets by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Jewelry making, while it is intricate and detailed, is highly portable, an aspect Steinhoff discovered at the age of 13, when she originated her sideline career in yet another unusual place: the hospital room where she was receiving treatment for lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer.

“I had almost three years of chemotherapy treatments, so I needed something to do,” Steinhoff says. “I started making jewelry because I needed a good distraction — you can only watch so much TV.” When a local leather-craft store offered Steinhoff supplies in exchange for her creating projects and displays for their windows, the teenager used her time well: she fashioned intricate seed bead projects, bags, and moccasins, as well as tooled carved leather into wallets, purses or belts.

Jewelry artist Anna Steinhoff gives demonstrations during Art Walk at Dayton's Wenaha Gallery

Jewelry artist Anna Steinhoff gives demonstrations during Art Walk at Dayton’s Wenaha Gallery

Out of hardship grew something beautiful, with the skills Steinhoff developed during adolescence growing and flourishing into adulthood and a business, Blue Mountain Made, which she advertises primarily through her Facebook page of the same name. And while leather and beads still factor into the supply list, Steinhoff has added extensive variety to her material stockpile, scouring antique shops, outdoor stores, and the proverbially treasure-laden family attic for unusual design elements.

Assorted rings made by Anna Steinhoff, Many feature the primer cut from the end of a used bullet shell

Assorted rings made by Anna Steinhoff, Many feature the primer cut from the end of a used bullet shell

“I’ve used parts from bicycle chains, antique pocket watches, fish hooks, fishing flies, bullet cases, old belts, rocks, and flowers,” Steinhoff says. “A lot of my materials are recycled. Almost all of the leather I use are scraps from upholstery stores or even motorcycle chaps.”

An especially impressive find unfolded in her grandparent’s attic, where she stumbled upon a jar filled with brass buttons. A note within described the buttons as from Steinhoff’s great, great Uncle Frank Jobe’s World War I uniform, and it didn’t take long to incorporate this memorabilia into a leather bracelet.

Steinhoff loves leather, it being a major component in many of her pieces. A highly natural, organic element, leather adds a sense of the mountains and countryside, not to mention its ability to impart beauty without being “girly-girl,” an appellation Steinhoff avoids.

“I like wearing something that comes from nature and/or reminds me of the olden days when things were hand forged and simpler,” she says.

Handcrafted earrings by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

Handcrafted earrings by Anna Steinhoff, guest artist at Wenaha Gallery

“It’s important to me that I make quality goods, but I want them to have a hand-crafted, simple beauty to them — things you can tell that someone put a lot of time and love into.”

In addition to the wearers of her jewelry, Steinhoff has another, unusual fan named Tikka, the family Labrador with a leather addiction. Because the artist’s primary place to work is the kitchen table, she keeps a watchful eye out for Tikka, but sometimes the dog’s muzzle is quicker than the human eye.

“I have to keep leather put away, or she’ll eat it every time. She has actually eaten a lot of things I’ve made.

“I have some dangly leather earring’s I’ve made, and every time I wear them she nuzzles my neck/ears and it tickles. The more I giggle, the more she nuzzles and tries to nibble the earrings.”

Freeloader. But a fetching one.

With a day job in human resources at the Walla Walla Penitentiary, Steinhoff balances family time with commercial endeavor, and launched her business officially last year at Dayton’s Blue Mountain Station. She has recently been invited to share store space at Azure Mountain Botanicals in Dayton.

“I never know what I will make next,” the artist says. “I just like things that are simple, pretty, rustic, and handcrafted.”

Wenaha GalleryAnna Steinhoff is the featured Art Event artist at Wenaha Gallery, 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA from Monday, October 5 through Saturday, October 31. 

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.