Molten glass contains myriad possibilities

ere’s a recipe you shouldn’t try at home. Take some glass and apply enough heat to turn it to molten liquid.

ere’s a recipe you shouldn’t try at home.

Take some glass and apply enough heat to turn it to molten liquid.

Shape it into a colourful bead.

Decorate.

And bake for three-and-a-half hours at a searing 515 degrees Celsius.

It’s a combination best left to professionals, and local glass artist Carmen Komish fits the bill.

She’s the owner, manager, designer, bookkeeper and bottle washer at Aurora Stained Glass & Supplies.

The shop is a gem set into the dust of Industrial Road in Marwell.

It’s late afternoon and the sun is streaming through the storefront as Komish takes her seat behind a metal table in her workshop.

In the corner an oxygen machine is humming like a motorcycle engine.

Two tiny Chihuahuas — one hairless and one shaggy — prance and play around the workshop, then come to rest on a little blanket spread beneath the kiln.

Komish dons dark-tinted glasses and sparks the propane torch until it gives off a steady blue flame.

She melts a thin glass rod over the flame until it turns into toffee and twists the liquid on to a metal rod.

Then, like a determined camper roasting the perfect marshmallow, she twists the glob over the flame until it forms into a perfect globe.

“I was the least creative person I knew,” she says with a smile.

But that’s hard to believe when you watch her work.

When she’s finished shaping the bead and accenting the design with red squiggles, she throws the pieces into a cement kiln to bake and cool.

“If I didn’t put them in the kiln they would explode,” she explains.

And four hours later, the beads are ready to be strung on necklaces or hung from ears.

What began as a pastime for Komish and a couple of her friends became a business opportunity for the local entrepreneur.

She took up stained glass as a hobby and soon found that the supplies — glass panes, soldering tools and patterns — were hard to come by in Whitehorse.

So she opened Aurora in January 2004, and has introduced a steady stream of beginners to the craft, who now come in and rent studio space in her shop to work on their own projects.

Today her countertops showcase racks of unique beads, thickly painted coasters coloured with glass crystals and wine bottles that look like they’ve lost their pep, lay on their side slumped into hors d’oeuvre trays.

It’s hard to believe that the polished pieces began as silica and sand.

But for Komish the possibilities for the fragile medium are endless.

Now she’s expanded the business to glass slumping — when glass is heated in a kiln until it conforms to the shape of a mould; fusing — when chunks of different coloured glass are melted together, and she’s even tried her hand at glass blowing.

“Man, does that take practice,” she says with a smile and holds up a wonky clear glass vase — the memento of her first attempt at the craft.

She’s also teamed up with a local jewelry maker, who uses her handmade beads in earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Along the studio’s back wall hang photos of her past students standing proudly beside their finished pieces — sun-catchers and wall hangings.

Through the fall and winter, she runs classes where students can solder together their own designs.

And she hosts two-hour sessions in which beginners can try their skill with the bead-making torch.

Komish has a few pieces of her own work for sale at the Yukon Gallery. In summer she keeps a booth at the Fireweed Market, and in winter she hits the fair circuit.

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