Rivers and robes — movement and flow — this was the inspiration for Carole Tetlow’s exhibit of kiln-fused glass art during a ‘meet the artist’ event at the Gallery of the Midnight Sun recently.

This current-day exhibit, however, was the result of an epiphany from decades ago that eventually led her down the path to creating the delicate works of art she continues to design and produce.

“I had just graduated from architecture and I was in Istanbul. I walked into an old mosque and saw this rosette window and just fell in love with it,” Tetlow said of the intricate design that would eventually shape the inspiration for her glass creations.

After returning home to Vancouver, she decided to take stained glass courses and eventually, upon moving to Yellowknife, she delved into the kiln-formed glass technique, which she continues to do in her home studio.

Tetlow said in terms of the differing techniques, stained glass is flat glass formed with copper foil and known as cold glass, while fused glass is created in a kiln and described as warm glass.

In the creative process, she often makes wax forms that she incorporates into the glass to make a mold, resulting in a textured and shaped dimensional quality that brings to life her delicate creations.

Historic glass

Tetlow frequently recycles glass to mold and use in her projects and some of it she has salvaged from the former Shaganappy apartment building in Yellowknife, she noted, giving her work an historic quality.

“You never finish learning,” she said of the enjoyment she gets from her lifelong passion for creating the works of glass art.

The designs Tetlow chooses to create are based on a story she wants to depict, she said of the trout, flowers, ice, robes of fabric, and other inspirations she draws from — but they are primarily inspirations from her life in the North and experiencing the diverse beauty of nature.

For Lisa Seagrave, owner/manager of the Gallery, it was a happy moment being able to return to pre-pandemic events such as Tetlow’s exhibit. Seagrave hopes to host more events in the future.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had something so exciting happen here in the gallery,” she said of the opportunity to showcase the work of a Northern artist in-person.

Seagrave said she was impressed with the quality and designs in Tetlow’s exhibit.

“It’s a privilege to have Carole, who has such a wealth of knowledge and experience and who is so amazingly creative. There is such a variation in the pieces, so we are thrilled to have her here today.”

This blue glass piece by Carole Tetlow is her interpretation of the ice road. Jill Westerman/NNSL photo

Collaborative work

Several of Tetlow’s cast pieces were developed over the years in collaboration with other artists, one of which is on display in the Northland Utilities building, with the other being on display in the legislative assembly.

Tetlow said collaboration has become much easier with the use of social media, allowing her to connect with other artists from around the globe.

“You end up with friends from all over the world because you take courses together and then keep in contact,” she said.

On one memorable occasion, Tetlow said she had the opportunity to collaborate with an artist on a glass work that interpreted former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama’s famous yellow gown.

Tetlow said often people, upon viewing her work, want to know more about the complex process and how the result is achieved.

“I tell them it’s about finding new ways of doing things. Any time you put it into a kiln, there are new results,” she said.

Tetlow added that she already has an idea in mind for her next exhibit which she will unveil sometime after Christmas.

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