I first saw Roessler Glass through the Smithsonian Craft show website where Joyce Roessler was a new exhibitor with some magnificent entries. All her pieces are created from her own glass work. I asked her about the allure of glass:
What I find particularly special about glass is it’s gem-like qualities, such as color, refraction, transparency and fluidity. It lends itself very easily to jewelry making. It has a sensual tactile feel and I enjoy the weightiness of it. Glass can be drilled, sawed, tumbled, fused together, painted, carved and much more. The imagination is unlimited.
I have always tried to stay true to my personal style. I am always in some way building on the piece I conceived before. But still I’m influenced by everything around me. I am also painting and my paintings feel like my glass jewelry. It’s interesting how this happens automatically in some naive way that is subconscious. The material itself also lends its own feel and style. This is probably another reason I chose it. It’s suitable to my sensibilities. These things combined with who and what I am are what make my work stand out from others.
I continue to push color use. I am always striving to find new colors by using glass overlays. This might mean taking an opal lilac and overlaying a transparent peach color glass to get an end result that is more interesting and unique. Becoming more technically proficient allows more creative freedom.
When and where did you first become interested in working with glass?
I had just completed my second year of art school and decided to take some time off to apprentice at a stained glass shop in Louisville, Ky. This was my initial introduction to the material. I went back to art school, this time at Ohio University and studied painting, sculpture and glass blowing.
Jack Schmidt, my glass instructor while at Ohio University, was responsible for pressing me to try hot glass and I was hooked! My biggest influence in jewelry design is my good friend, Michele Mercaldo, here in my community in Boston where I work and live. Mimi is a real "jeweler's jeweler" and has helped me immensely with metal work and is a sound board for ideas.
You teach and make beads as well as finished jewelry. What do you enjoy about each of these parts of your business?
Making something with your hands is so intrinsically primal and nurturing, satisfying to the soul.. I love to teach to see others experience this thing I love so much. Some will leave the studio euphoric. It’s satisfying to experience. The beads and all glass parts seen in my work are conceived and executed by myself.. This gives my work a unique signature and style.
What challenges do you have combining the business side with the artistic aspect of running your business?
I am not good with money and have had a hard time in this area..Running a business is a constant struggle and you do have to work it. Discipline and delegation of responsibilities are important. I will always still be learning.
What do you think are the most effective ways to market and sell your product?
The most important ways to sell my product is to stay focused on what I do best, making art. Being as good as I can be as an artist gives me the best edge. I need to keep developing and staying abreast of the ways to market my product.
How has the economy affected your business?
Overall everyone seems to be selling less, so of course this affects us all. The craft markets are doing poorly.
What advice do you have for fledgling jewelry designers?
Find your own voice and develop it. Persistence will get you everywhere!
Where can your work be seen?
Here in my Boston studio showroom my work can be seen. I also sell my hand blown glass beads here and in Boston also at Mercaldo Gallery. On the west coast the de Young Museum at Golden Gate Park. Symmetry in Saratoga Springs, NY, Corning Museum gift shop also in NY, Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA and Alaska Glass Gallery in Anchorge, Alaska. My work can also be seen at www.roesslerglass.com.
Joyce's glass is extraordinarily beautiful and graceful. It was a pleasure meeting her!