Edie Martin, Glass Artist
a path of pattern,
texture, line, and color……
When you see Edie Martin’s glass artwork, it is easy to see her singular focus on pattern, texture, line, and color. Not only does she focus on those qualities, they are most often the inspiration and the theme of her work. She has gravitated toward them more and more throughout her journey.
As Martin looks back on the journey to the current place where she creates, she has come to realize that she has been on an artist’s path since she was in single digits, age-wise. Now she simply continues to follow her passion on that path.
Martin is an Idaho native, born in Twin Falls. As a farm girl who learned how to do many things, she remembers loving to “make stuff” more than anything. This took the form of sewing, hammering things together, making candles the old fashioned drip way, cooking, decorating her room, knitting, crocheting, and various kinds of handcrafts. She says, “At the tender age of nine I was fully practicing as an artist. And now that I think of it, my first studio was in an attic storage room. Along the inwardly sloping walls there were banks of very deep shelves. My mother allocated sections of these deep shelves to each of her children. We could do with that space as we pleased. I filled mine with my craft odds and ends, fabric scraps and bits of trim, plus my dolls, the models for which I designed and made clothes: many, many outfits of clothes. I spent feverish hours and days with these things and with scissors, my mom's sewing machine, and my ideas about how to put them together. My doll was the best dressed, or shall I say, definitely the most dressed, in the county."
Martin didn't know then that she had started her art training, that she was using design principles that she would learnlater in art school, that she was honing her skills, that she was training her artist's eye, that she was teaching her craftsman's hands to manipulate materials, but she was doing all of those things.
Martin says, “In my college years I was encouraged to focus on a field in which I would be able to support myself. ‘There will always be a need for teachers’, was a commonly heard phrase. So I studied elementary education and ab
solutely loved the “Art in the Elementary School” class, because we were able to experiment with so many hands-on art media. I especially loved making pottery. It should have given me a clue that I should study ART, but it took a while longer for me to figure that out!”
After college graduation she worked as a flight attendant for several years, based in Houston and Kansas City. It was in Kansas City that she met and married her husband, and several years later they began to add to their family. But during the first five years after marriage she was traveling both for work and for pleasure and was able to observe a world of design and art. In her free time she took classes in pottery, the medium that had been so intriguing when she was in college. She also tried drawing and painting classes, and completed an \extensive correspondence course from the New York School of Interior Design. She savored each and every one of those experiences.
A turning point came when she decided to experiment with a class in stained glass at a local community college class in Kansas City. After a very short acquaintanceship, she knew she was truly in love with the medium and that she had an aptitude for manipulating the materials that were used. She says, “The aptitude I had was, no doubt, partly from the multiple kinds of art and craft projects that I had done all of my life. My genes may have had a part in that as well, because my mother had an amazing talent for drawing faces and figures, and my dad, like most farmers, could do anything that farmers needed to do, including design and build buildings of various sizes. I think I inherited my eye for proportion from my mother, and my three dimensional abilities from my dad.”
After several years, Martin and her family moved back to the Boise area to be nearer to her family. And she continued her work in stained glass. “The years of designing for stained glass had an effect on every medium that I experimented with. Every design begins with thinking about a line, a space between the lines that creates a shape, and a color. When I went back to school in my 40’s and got a second bachelor’s degree, this time in Fine Arts, my drawing and painting professors noted that effect.”
Though she was once again exposed to many different art mediums at the university, she remained zeroed in on her glass work. Glass art is a huge field and she knew that there is much to learn – geometry, chemistry, technique and tradition. Because of this, she has taken many workshops and classes related to glass, including classes at glass art trade shows and at the renowned Pilchuck Glass School.
She has received numerous awards for her stained glass artwork and has completed commissions for several churches and homes.
Martin’s stained glass obsession began and it has continued and expanded to include a focus on kiln-formed glass or fused glass. She found that glass is absolutely fascinating to observe as it is transformed in the kiln. She has mastered many techniques in kiln-forming and has developed some new ones of her own as she continues to experiment.
“Glass fusing is, each and every time, a semi-controlled experiment, and you do not ever know for sure how a firing will turn out. That is one thing that keeps it so interesting!” She continues to be drawn to the amazing qualities of the medium: the effects of light, its transparency and reflectiveness, color, movement, texture, and versatility.
Her studio is again on the second floor of her home, but instead of a section of shelves, she has glass cabinets for storage, glass cutting tables, glass grinders of many sorts, a glass sandblasting setup, and kilns for fusing. Martin says she has traveled a long way in her art journey, but, despite that, “In my current work, I still spend feverish hours and days with my ideas, cutting things apart and putting them back together in new ways, adding bits of embellishments, and looking for pleasing combinations in pattern, texture, line, and color. And like the plans I made when I was very young, sometimes my designs work out and sometimes they do not. But there is always value and a learning experience in trying them out!”
“I live for the moment when I lift a piece from my work table or remove it from the kiln and see it with the light coming through for the first time as a finished art piece. Viewing the artwork during the process of being made does not begin to compare with seeing it when the light shines through it. I could go on with metaphors about light bringing the work to life. I want to create pieces that draw the eye and hold the eye of the viewer enough to take in the details, see the beauty, and read the meaning.”
Martin currently exhibits her work at the Art Source Gallery in downtown Boise and the Boise Airport and sells directly from her studio and website.
The Artist Life is pleased to offer many of Edie Martin's original work directly. See our Artisan Collection.
Martin's work can also be seen on her website at ediemartinglass.com