Firewoman

by Lucy Lee Jones on July 3, 2010

in Art, Gifts, Glass Sculpture, HAWAI`I, Local Artist

 

Perhaps it’s appropriate that I am posting the story of this amazing fire artist on Fourth of July weekend! The fireworks in her studio, however, definitely are more productive than those in the sky.

 

Carmen Wagner is a dear friend and first-class artist as a glass sculptor. Words are inadequate for her glass sculptures and jewelry.

 

I had a hard time deciding between this dragon and the dolphin for the opening photo.

 

When Carmen was introduced to Howard Richie at the Crystal Gallery at age sixteen, she was hooked. She soon started an apprenticeship with him. “I was only paid when I made something good enough to sell,” she says.

After she inherited all Richie’s old equipment, she re-machined torches and fixed broken tools. That was the start of her workbench setup. She still uses most of her original tools.

Isn’t this arrangement of coral and fish exquisite?

 

She has always loved to create things, and says that when she found glass work, she knew there were few people with that skill.

 

Carmen surprised me at the school one day with a beautiful pair of red seahorse earrings. All of these earrings are stunning!

 

Her father was a Filipino immigrant and her mother was born in Ka’u. Her parents had a farm in Honaunau, but they moved to Oahu before Carmen was born. When she was three, they moved back to the Honaunau farm.

 

It was difficult for her to learn a trade that was dominated by men, but she was a determined young woman.

 

Her work can be found in collections world-wide. A set of ornaments were hand delivered by Neil Abercrumbie to President Obama for Christmas last year.

 

I took a shot of a photo of one glass sculpture that hangs on Carmen’s studio wall.

 

During the few minutes that we talked, Carmen started a new project. The term for what she does is “lamp working.” She uses bottled oxygen and propane with a pre-mix torch.

 

At the end of my visit, she showed me her newly created jelly fish.

 

Here is another view.

 

And finally, here is beautiful Carmen. Please check out her website for more of her art.

 

If you are looking for her work on the Big Island, check the Showcase Gallery (Kainaliu), Elements Gallery (Waimea), Gallery of Great Things (Waimea) and Dovetail Gallery (Kona). She is working on accounts for Maui and Oahu. Perhaps you will treat yourself to a sculpture for your home, a pair of earrings for yourself or a friend, or order something special to commemorate your visit to Hawai`i.

Click here to view a slide show of Carmen at work and more of her fragile pieces.

A hui hou!

Aloha!

Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sonia (foodiesleuth) July 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Beautiful work…..she should talk to some of the galleries in Hilo!

2 Lucy Lee Jones July 6, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I think she’s talking with several other galleries. It’s a hard market right now, but yes, her work is beautiful.

3 Michael July 15, 2015 at 3:40 pm

I have an old Howard Ritchie piece that needs repair. Is that posible? if so what do I need to do? She bought it in 1991. I found it in the attic broken, I can send you pics if you want to see what I have. Thank you, Michael Crocker

4 Lucy Lee Jones July 15, 2015 at 5:18 pm

I have forwarded your question to the “Firewoman,” and maybe she’ll be able to respond to you. Thanks for writing.
Lucy

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