The nest is getting bigger for a Fondren creative.
Glass artist Elizabeth Robinson, known more recently for her glass birds, has doubled the size of her Spirit House Glass Studio in the basement of Fondren Corner.
A craftsman since 1980, Robinson has grown her business tremendously after being picked up by Artful Home, a wholesale catalog representing 14,000 artists in the United States and Canada. To date, Robinson is the only Mississippi artist represented, but, if she has her way, that’s all about to change.
As a board member of the Mississippi Craftsman’s Guild, Robinson hopes to bring other Mississippi glass artists into the Artful Home fold. “We have opened a pipeline for being able to take glass product and wholesale it,” she said. “That’s the trick, to balance retail with wholesale. Glass is expensive. You won’t see that many around here that wholesale their work because it is so difficult.”
But that’s not the only group she sees taking under her wing. Spirit House is a collective, a collaboration, where Robinson is an instructor. “If I look at my skill sets, they are in facilitation,” she said. “I have a comfort in being teacher and student. And if you’re around (glass) enough, it becomes a second language.”
Robinson has introduced “Glassmosisâ„¢,” her newly coined term for the weaving and melding of other arts into her own. The process includes photographers Kay Holloway and Josh Hailey and visual artists Ginger Williams Cook, William Goodman, Jason Thomas and Kelley Williams, Spirit House’s studio manager for the last year.
Williams, one of PORTICO jackson’s “rising artists” in 2013, said it’s neat to see how each artist is ready to share. “It’s like, ‘What can I do with my stuff on this glass,’” she asked. “(Being here) has inspired me and gotten me away from ‘brown desk world.’ I’m artistic and free all day long.”
It’s that same freedom that inspires Robinson. At once a part owner of Professional Staffing Group, she’s sold her shares to focus full time on production of glass, especially her birds. “You have to have a production mindset,” she said of the birds that have more recently been found in the Art Institute of Chicago’s gift gallery. “When I did jewelry, people would ask for 100 pieces. I had to address it — doing 100 birds at a time. ‘Are we doing 100?’ Yes, we’re doing 100 this week!”
Though churning out bird after bird may seem monotonous for a creative, Robinson explained that each one is so different. “We embrace the idea of hatching them again and again because they are unique. That gets us excited.”
While the birds pay the bills, Robinson is exploring ways to create larger, more artistic pieces, the kind that Artful Home is calling for. “We’re going to continue this year to learn more about what we do and enjoy this space,” she said. But this next year, we’re doubling down.”
Visit Spirit House Glass during their open house on August 7 during Fondren After 5. You can also find Robinson’s work at her Glass House retail spot on the first floor of Fondren Corner.
Photos from Spirit House Glass: