Close Up Interview with Glass Artist Carrie Strope Sohayda

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

My name is Carrie Strope Sohayda and I’m an studio/teaching artist who works mainly with glass as a medium. I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska where I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture before moving to the Napa Valley to work in the wine industry. After a few years, I realised that I preferred drinking wine to the hours involved in making it.
I had taken a few art classes in college while in the Architecture department, and after realising I needed a break from the wine business, I was able to start taking classes at the local college and pursuing my interest in art that had always taken a back seat. While taking classes in oil painting, mixed media, web design and photoshop, I stumbled upon a glass studio where I walked into a beginning fusing class and simply refused to leave!


Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business? Where do you get your inspiration from when you design?

I love working with glass as a material, integrating different techniques, including mosaic, kiln-formed (or fused) glass, glass painting and stained glass.  I enjoy experimenting with and combining various techniques and processes, using them to add new facets to my work.  I am influenced by intricate geometric designs and color exploration, incorporating a love for quilting, textiles and bright colors inherited from my mother, who was an avid quilter.

I love the meditation of breaking glass into many pieces, building them together into a new form. I enjoy that kilnformed glass can be a challenge.  There’s always a chance for surprises and accidents. When the kiln lid closes, the glass can shift as it changes from a solid to a liquid and back.  The transformative and independent nature of kiln-formed glass and its lessons of detachment have helped me evolve not only as an artist but also as a person, and makes me want to share glass as a medium with as many people as possible.
 My husband and I
at a Lincoln Arts Council fundraising gala
I lived in the Bay Area of California for 10 years and was lucky to live 5 minutes from the glass studio where I became addicted to glass. I would visit the studio daily to see if there were chores that I could help out with. I just wanted to be around glass and soak up everything I could learn about it. In order to help around the studio even more, I took Stained Glass classes, mosaic classes, beadmaking classes, everything that was offered. Gradually, I started to help out teaching the classes and assisting with the production of larger architectural installations. There seemed to be such a large community of people who were familiar with glass, that I just assumed fused glass art was present everywhere.
When I moved back to my hometown, though, I realised that was false. There are a handful of people in the state who know what glass fusing is. I’ve been on a mission since that time to spread the “Glass Gospel” far and wide. I’m on the roster of teaching artists for the Nebraska Arts Council Artists in Schools and Communities program, which means that I am often contacted by teachers who want to expose their students to a brand new art form.
Stella, 2011, kilnformed glass, 9.7
I’m headed to a residency in the next few weeks in rural Nebraska and will be setting up glass fusing programs in two different schools. I’ll be working with Kindergarten through 12th grade students over the course of two weeks. We’ll be creating fused glass mobiles, a fused glass window panel, mosaic stepping stones and two large triptych mosaic pieces. It’s an exciting venture and I can’t wait to share glass with a whole new group of students.

What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?

I’d definitely say I’m busy, enthusiastic, determined, creative, and helpful.
I never used to plan or schedule things, but I’ve become so involved in teaching, travelling and creating with glass that I’ve become much more organised. My calendar is often full 6 months in advance!

How did you know when you’ve found your passion for Art & Design?

The very first workshop I took with glass was a glass blowing workshop at the college in Napa. It was a month long class that met once a week to learn about the history of glass and the mechanics of working with glass. I walked away with two paperweights that led me to search out more glass classes. I eventually ended up assisting the teacher of that class in his hot glass studio two days a week, in addition to assisting in the transcription studio (cold and warm glass) three to four days a week.
Glass Links Jewelry, cast glass and aluminu

Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?

My very first job was in food service at Subway. It was the beginning to my food and wine adventure. I used to be shy and was scared to talk on the phone in my early years. But, being in the service industry really helped me to open up and talk with people. I’m no longer shy, and if you get me talking about glass, you may have a hard time shutting me up!

Describe your day in your studio space?

I generally begin my day with toast and coffee in front of the computer waking up to Facebook and catching up on emails. If it’s a computer day, I may spend all day editing photos, creating inventory sheets, organizing workshops or residencies or putting together a newsletter. When I’m in the middle of production for craft shows or gallery items, I’ll often get out to the garage/studio right after breakfast to put things together and load the kiln. Once the glass goes in the kiln, it’s got 12-24 hours before it’s ready to come out. If I haven’t got other projects planned to work on right away, then I’ll experiment with different techniques or play with mixing colors. Glass is unlike paint in that when you mix colors, you have to think about chemistry as well as color theory. Some colors react unexpectedly and some techniques don’t work quite the way you planned them, so I often make small samples before tackling larger projects.
The glamorous life of a glass artist 🙂
Sandblasting a collaborative Girl Scout glass plate for
 the Girl Scouts annual ArtVenture fundraiser auction

As an Artist, what is your biggest frustration?

I really don’t enjoy having to list items in online marketplaces. There’s not enough time in the day for me to get everything done that I’d like to do, and listing generally ends up on the bottom of my to-do list.

Tell us about how you prioritise your work.

Generally, I’ll work on projects that lead to immediate payment, which generally means consulting work. Often times that is computer work, but occasionally is playing with new techniques and products. When I need a creative break, I’ll work on my own projects or create studio samples. Unfortunately, it’s my own work that generally takes a back seat, so I’ll create deadlines for myself to motivate me to get work done. I don’t often go to craft fairs, but I’m always looking for gallery exhibits. I’ve got two shows coming up in November and December, so I’m getting a lot of work done!

Can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?

When I moved back to Nebraska, my glass community shrank to almost none. I began to network with local artists in a variety of media through the Lincoln Artists’ Guild. At the same time, I began expanding my online network. I’m lucky that the glass community is generally very open and sharing. I keep connected with other artists with facebook and twitter, but also with glass conferences like the Glass Art Society annual conference. I travel for work and meet glass studio artists across the country. This way I’m able to constantly exchange ideas.
I also keep in touch with customers online, as well through facebook and a newsletter that I send out 2-4 times per year. Whenever my schedule’s permits, I go to gallery openings and talk with patrons that may have questions about the art.
 Rocky Road Fused Glass Dish, 15″ x 5″

What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?

Don’t be afraid to experiment and play when you create. Feel free to look to other artists for inspiration, but don’t forget to find your own voice. Identify your goals and be watchful for opportunities. If you know what it is that you’re aiming for, you’ll find that opportunity often presents itself.
For a glimpse into my creative process, check out CalyxAnn’s YouTube channel.
The Glass Gospel :
Riley Residency in fused recycled glass :


Vinh Van Lam
the authorVinh Van Lam
Vinh Van Lam, co-founder of ArtSHINE, is a visionary art coach and entrepreneur with a passion for fostering creativity. With a diverse background in art and business, he brings a unique perspective to empower emerging artists, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic art industry through the innovative platform of ArtSHINE.


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    Vinh Van Lam

    Co-Founder of ArtSHINE

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