TRENDER: Glassblower and Metal Worker Kim Vredenburg
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
You taught for 30 years in RI. What led you to become an artist?
When I was teaching, I would work nights or weekends creating things. It was a way to unwind. Now that I am retired, I am able to devote more time to my art.
I've been working with glass for more than 25 years in one temperature or another. My local school district's Adult Education offered a class in Stained Glass, which is considered cold glass. After some time, I was working on a panel for my son and thought it would look better if it incorporated a fused element, so I started fusing (which is warm glass). The size of my kiln dictated that I could only fuse small pieces, perfect for making jewelry.
About ten years ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told them I wanted a beginners lampworking kit. All I wanted to do was make coordinating beads to go with my fused glass jewelry. Somehow that little Hot Head torch led to a glass studio, and a bigger torch, and lots of glass rods and tools. Funny, he hasn't asked me in recent years what I want for Christmas.
How has RI helped foster your work and business?
Recently the Rhode Island Legislature passed a bill creating the whole state of Rhode Island as an arts District, and therefore exempt from sales tax on original artwork. This will allow us to be more competitive with big-box stores or imported Items. Plus it also helps out the people that purchase fine art directly from the artists.
I'm also a member of an Etsy Street Team called Arts In RI, a diverse group of RI artisans committed to offering high quality, handmade alternatives to mass produced products. Due to the size of our state, we are able to meet regularly to share information related to improving our businesses...and have fun chatting.
I've used the process of electroforming to combine copper with my flameworked glass for quite a while now. The addition of metalwork to my glass just seemed a natural progression. There is something so appealing to me about the warm tones of metals with the coolness of glass. I feel it sets my work apart from more traditional glass jewelry.
Incorporating this also allows me to be more creative and be able to fabricate ideas that wouldn't be possible if I were using just glass.
What do you love most about being an artist in RI?
The thing I love most is, in a very short span of time, I can go from where I live in a rural area of Rhode Island to the city, whether it be to shop or to go to a play or to dine out. And the landscape varies from ocean coastline to rural farmland to urban cityscape, each providing its own inspiration or relaxation.
Do you have a personal flair or habit when making art?
Occasionally, I've been known to go out to my metals studio in PJs with coffee cup in hand.
Seriously, lots of times when I'm working on a piece, my mind wanders a bit and I start wondering, what if I do this or what if I do that tonight or what if I use this finding? What if I use this different technique? That can be a good thing, but it also can be a bad thing, especially if I have a deadline for what I'm supposed to be working on. It certainly has led to some interesting pieces.
You make jewelry that has been called "feminine industrial". Can you explain what that means?
I love working with vintage findings, keys, gears, and various metals like copper, brass, or stainless steel and they give an overall industrial look to my jewelry.
It's feminine because, even though my jewelry tends to be a good size, it's not overly clunky. The addition of chains or ribbons or color makes it end up being jewelry that women would wear. I am currently working on more unisex jewelry and some things that are not technically jewelry.
Where can people access your art?
Shows: My last show for this year is my favorite show, the Foundry Show, December 5-8 and December 13-15.
A Shopper’s Dream
The Kittery Outlets in Kittery ME is a shopaholic’s paradise! Located only 1.5 hours from Worcester and 2 hours from Providence, so much is so close. Choose from great outlet stores—with great outlet prices—like Levi’s, Coach, Old Navy, LOFT and more. If you are looking for something more outdoorsy, be sure to check out the Kittery Trading Post, which carries outdoor apparel and equipment to please even the pickiest New Englander. Oh, and there’s a Lindt Chocolate Outlet store—enough said.
306 US Route 1, Kittery, Maine. 1 (888) KIT-TERY.
Burlington is home to great universities, Lake Champlain and is the birthplace of Phish. But did you know that this Vermont city also has first class shopping? Church Street Marketplace, an outdoor shopping haven, is the center of the action. Perouse the cobblestone streets, featuring great shops like Urban Outfitters, Saratoga Olive Oil Company, Sweet Lady Jane, and more. If the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor shopping, pop into the Burlington Town Center Mall to check out the 802 Store—a place dedicated to everything Vermont.
North Conway, NH
North Conway, tucked away in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is the perfect weekend retreat. There are picturesque mountain views and some much needed peace and quiet. Shopaholics need not fear, though, because this little New England town has got their back. Settlers Green Outlet Village is chock full of all your brand name favorites, plus some specialty shops well worth taking a peek in. In total, there are over 60 shops! If you’re got a sweet tooth, be sure to stop into White Mountain Cupcakery—their cupcakes are the best around. Don’t forget, New Hampshire shopping is tax free!
Route 16, North Conway, NH. (603) 356-7031.
West Hartford, Connecticut
Located in West Hartford, Ct, Westfarms Mall is only about an hour’s drive from Worcester and a two hour drive from Providence. This elegant shopping mecca is stocked with designer names and delicious dining. Makeup lovers will appreciate the handmade cosmetics at Lush while fashinistas will fall in love with the styles at Anthropologie. Of course, it never hurts to look inside Tiffany & Co. either...
1500 New Britain Ave., West Hartford, Connecticut. (860) 561-3024.
Providence Place Mall
Okay, so this one is super close to home—but it had to be included! The Providence Place Mall is a destination that people from all around travel to visit, so why not take advantage of it if it’s close by? This multi-level shopping mall is any fashionista’s dream come true! Banana Republic, the Apple Store, dELIA*S, and Nordstrom are some retail favorites; while The Cheesecake Factory is a top choice for a bite to eat.
1 Providence Place, Providence, RI. (401) 270-1000.
Yankee Candle Vlg. Store
South Deerfield, MA
Here’s another one that is close enough to home to make it a great day trip! Yankee Candle Village Store in South Deerfield is a kid at heart’s dream come true! This place is in the Christmas spirit 365 days a year, featuring keepsakes and ornaments alongside 400,000 of your favorite Yankee Candle scented candles. Head out on Nov. 16, 17, 23, or 24 to see Annie—everyone’s favorite musical; or on November 30 to see Santa arrive by helicopter!
25 Greenfield Road, South Deerfield, Ma. (877)636- 7707.
Manchester, Vermont, is a vibrant community nestled in a beautiful Vermont setting. Besides its rich history and fabulous mountainside location, Manchester is also home to Manchester Designer Outlets. MDO features a unique blend of specialty and designer stores, such as Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren and Armani Outlet, alongside first class entertainment and dining. If you are a shopaholic who loves the outdoors and long, scenic rides—but don’t want to give up the convenience of a one stop shopping mall, this is the place for you!
97 Depot Street, Manchester Center, VT. 1 (800) 955-SHOP.
Boston is the largest city in New England, so of course it has to have larger than life shopping. Enter Newbury Street, an urban shopping favorite. Newbury Street is made up of 8 blocks of marvelous shopping and dining. Whether you go to Boston’s fashion district to window shop or splurge, there is something for everyone. Crush Boutique, Rinascimento, and Bobbles and Lace are just a few of the shopaholic approved boutiques that call Newbury Street home.
Newbury Street, Boston.
Photo: Rudi Riet/flickr
The Umbrella Factory
Picture a place where you can get a henna tattoo; visit a petting zoo; listen to live acoustic music; peruse or purchase goods from all around the world—all in one place. This is all possible at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory in Charlestown, RI. This cool outdoor shopping bazaar and has been delighting visitors since 1968. Six separate shops and a café each have their own unique twist, making a trip to The Fantastic Umbrella Factory anything but ordinary.
4820 Old Post Road, Charlestown, RI. (401) 364-1060.
The magic of the cape has been delighting artists and poets for centuries. Of course it is befitting that they have inspired shopping options as well. From the whimsical and free to the beautiful and dramatic; if you can dream it chances are it is on Cape Cod. Looking for sea glass jewelry, Cape Cod bracelets, or other great gift ideas? Check out Heart of Stone in Sandwich. For great art, take a peek in the Coastal Craft Gallery in Orleans. If something offbeat is more your style, Cape Kaleidoscopes in Mashpee is a do not miss!
For more on Cape Cod Shopping, visit http://www.capecodchamber.org/.
Photo: Cape Cod Travel Guide
L.L. Bean has long been the pinnacle of New England retailers. The company’s flagship store, which is located in Freeport, Maine, is a destination for all things outdoors. Visitors are greeted by a giant boot before they walk into the multi-level store. Inside, there is a plethora of men’s, women’s, and kids clothing and equipment that puts other sportswear shops to shame. If you decide to stay in the area, be sure to pop back into the store throughout the week for special clinics and courses. Oh, and don’t worry about closing time. This store is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
95 Main Street, Freeport, Maine. (877) 755-2326.
Vermont Country Store
Weston, VT & Rockingham, VT
Sometimes there’s just nothing better than good old fashioned hospitality and great products. The Vermont Country Store, with locations in West and Rockingham, provides just that. The Orton family, who opened the first Vermont Country Store in Weston in 1946, are self proclaimed “Purveyors of the Practical and Hard to Find.” This store has got everything and anything that you can’t find anywhere else, from old-fashioned games and candy to high end, high quality wool apparel, to house wares and more. The Rockingham location is even complete with a covered bridge dubbed “The Kissing Bridge!”
657 Main Street, Weston, Vermont. (802) 824-3184.
1292 Rockingham Road, Rockingham, Vermont. (802) 463-2224.
Do you love the feel and aesthetic of handmade pottery? If the answer is yes, Wesleyan Potters in Middletown, Connecticut, has got you covered. These guys have been the go-to specialists for pottery in New England since 1948. Take your pick of an assortment of beautiful crafts to give as gifts or keep for yourself. They are having a sale until December 15, so head over soon. They also offer tons of unique classes as well!
350 S Main Street, Middletown, Connecticut. (860) 344-0039.
The Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is renowned for its striking views and world class winter sports opportunities. People flock here in the warmer months to bask in the sun; in the fall to take in the foliage; in the winter to fly to down the slopes. Why not come do all of that and more—plus get some shopping done? While you’re in the area, head to Stowe for upscale boutiques and specialty shops galore or head to Johnson for some warm country apparel at Johnson Woolen Mills. Designer shopping is located less than an hour away in the bustle of Burlington.
Fifth Avenue, NYC
No shopping getaway list could possibly be complete without 5th Avenue. Although this street is not located in New England, it is unrivaled for its shopping selection that is the epitome of upscale, elegant and classy. Where else in the world can you find Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Prada, and Apple all on one street?
Photo: St. Simon/Flickr
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