Peggy Pettigrew Stewart
“The glass artists had said that the type of glass, materials used and the extreme movement I was requiring of the glass was not possible. … I got frustrated and said that I would find a way to do it.”
Price range: $1,650 - $9,900
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Peggy Pettigrew Stewart
As an artist who has now won national and international awards not only for her glass work but for her unique processes and techniques, Peggy Pettigrew Stewart surprised herself perhaps most of all with this particular life direction. She had been a successful business owner who felt joy and satisfaction with her accomplishments before a major health issue in 1998 turned everything upside down.
Her recovering body lacked the energy needed to remain an active businesswoman and she found herself both tired and bored. She began stringing beads. Never one to settle for keeping things simple she decided she could make her own glass beads and signed up for a class. The necessary open flame of a torch almost stopped her right there – she had grown up with a father who was a Fire Chief. But with a keen respect for fire though a continuing dislike of open flame she persevered: “I came back in [to class] and fell in love with fusing – it was an instant drug addiction.”
As Pettigrew Stewart grew stronger and stronger so did her focus on this new life direction. At age fifty she was accepted into the famed Pilchuck International Glass School in Washington and studied at the Academé Taller in Spain. She had the honor of working with Team Chihuly during installation of the master glass artist’s work. She extensively studied coldworking, sandblasting and sand carving in addition to kiln forming and casting and she became one of the early pioneers working in Float glass.
It was her continued desire to avoid a furnace’s open flame, however unavoidable other glass artists seemed to think it, that led Pettigrew Stewart to gain the technical knowledge needed to create an entirely original method for creating hot furnace glass without a furnace. “I studied the materials, science and chemistry of glass,” she explains. “I set about working with the masters in glass.” Her study paid off as she developed a kiln cast process that allowed her to work with large pieces of flat glass - with a thin film of dielectric coating – that she could melt over a mold. The process allowed her to manipulate glass to create texture, pattern and intricate detail.
Working with molds in this fashion also contributed to one of Pettigrew Stewart’s most intriguing bodies of work: portraiture in glass. While she has created molds of a variety of notable individuals as well as client commissions, it is her devotion to telling the story of Woodstock and the “Summer of Love” that has allowed her to work personally with a great number of the musicians from that significant era. “During these sessions of casting [molds], I have been told fascinating stories and … for a few moments I get to look at the world through their eyes.” Band members from Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Grateful Dead, Big Brother & The Holding Company and many other living legends of rock have sat with the artist as she builds on plans for a special museum exhibition to celebrate, in glass, the individual musicians responsible for that arguably unmatched era in musical and cultural history.
As one of the few U.S. instructors to teach the Verre Églomisé ™ glass technique Pettigrew Stewart also creates stunning works using this technique. The process – over 400 years old – requires the artist to skillfully work on the rear side of the glass. Her dichroic glass pieces are bent and molded to release prismatic color change as lighting changes and as a viewer moves around them. The glass works of Peggy Pettigrew Stewart have now been exhibited in museums and exhibitions worldwide as the artist continues her decades-long fascination and experimentation with translucence and transparency, with color and light.