BRATTLEBORO—After many years of searching for studio space, ceramicist Natalie Blake and glass artist Randi F. Solin launched their Fulcrum Arts studio on Route 30 four years ago.
Since then, the business partners' gallery has grown, with Hand of Man Artisan Builders and Saxtons River Distillery joining the collaboration.
Now, the time has come for the collaboration to ignite.
Fulcrum Arts is changing its name to Fire Arts Vermont.
“We have grown, refined, and transformed so much that we felt that it was time to show off our newly renovated gallery to our family, friends, and customers and celebrate,” Blake and Solin wrote in a Facebook invitation to the studio's third annual birthday bash.
The Oct. 22 party, dubbed the Fire Ball Masquerade, will formally launch Fire Arts Vermont, and masks are mandatory. Organizers will have some available at the door or people can bring their own. Costumes are also encouraged. Doors open at 7 p.m., and Solin will give a glass blowing demonstration at 9. There will also be hors d’oeuvres, a bonfire, and a DJ.
Fundraiser for scholarship
All proceeds from the $10 cover charge go to the Michael Wind Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide scholarships to classes at Fire Arts.
Wind, a long-time employee of Solin’s, recently passed away, Blake said. “We all loved him dearly,” she said.
Blake described Fulcrum Arts as the slow-burn energy that powered the artists through seven and a half years searching for a studio space that could also house a gallery and workshop space. Fulcrum is the hearth, she said, and Fire Arts is the studio’s new energy that will burn in that hearth.
Solin is an award-winning artist and the creative force behind Solinglass. She has worked in glass blowing for 26 years and operated her own glassblowing studio for 18 years. According to her and Blake’s website, Solin’s pieces have resided in collections at the White House, the U.S. embassies in Algeria and Guinea, and the St. Petersburg Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Blake, too, is an award-winning artist. She has worked with clay for 26 years and owned her business for close to 20 years. According to the Fire Arts website, Blake started in functional pottery before moving into decorative porcelain vessels. Some of these pieces are in permanent collections at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art and the Wheaton Museum, as well as several private collections. Recently, she has focused on tile murals and takes commissions for public and private installations.
'Girls who play with fire'
“Our tag line is two girls who play with fire,” Blake said. “And now we can start burning our fire.”
Fire represents inspiration, warm heartedness, and creativity, she said.
Blake, Solin, Saxtons River Distillery, and Hand of Man all use fire in their work in some form.
“The gallery is more exciting than we ever thought it would be,” Blake said.
Looking ahead, Blake and Solin also have plans for an outdoor sculpture garden, party area, and workshop space. They have already planted a garden and fruit trees behind their building on Route 30.
Blake and Solin will continue to offer workshops in ceramics and glass blowing. They encourage people to tour the studio and watch the artists at work.
“[It’s important that] people have access to the creative process, which is so dynamic and requires so much focus and attention,” Blake said.
Watching an artist work helps people understand the steps that go into making the pieces that hang in the gallery, she said. Hopefully, it will also inspire them to make their own pieces, she added.