This month we would like to introduce you to the Ayotte/Kenison family!
John is an attorney in the area and Melissa is a 2nd generation glass artist!
Both of their kids are inquisitive and full of smiles!
We have asked Melissa to share with us some about her amazing talent working with glass!
|Navajo basket with Black Eyed Susan bouquet!
Please teach us a little about your art form!
As a glass artist I create very tiny, life like sculptures or ideas which tend to mostly reference nature- flora and fauna. This is done with a technique called lamp working or flame working. I make small leaves, petals, flowers, or tendrils- all in glass. After the design is created it is then carefully encased in molten clear glass, and shaped into various forms. Primarily this tradition meets its end in something called a paperweight, but the word paperweight is quite limiting, often bringing to mind the acrylic or plastic butterfly in a dome like piece. These art glass pieces are far from that . In fact, I’ve started to use the encasement process to push the natural limits of the glass and create other more sculptural items -- stones, Navajo baskets, bud vases and so on. Keep in mind each of these has realistic bouquets or references encased inside the glass.
Where did you learn?
I’m very fortunate to be a second generation glass artist. My father Rick Ayotte has been working glass in various forms for 50 years. His expertise allows me to start at a higher level with the glass. The medium itself, glass, has so many nuances and “secrets” that are more easily discovered with the help of master artist. I didn’t grow up always working with glass. He encouraged me to get an education and work in the world for someone else before even considering this path. It wasn’t until graduate school for counseling psychology, when I desperately needed to earn money to support myself, that I sat down at the bench with the torch and fell head first in love with the process.
Where are you able to work?
My studio is approximately 20 feet from my home.
I feel privileged to be near to my kids while they grow and enjoy having lunch with them or transporting them here and there when I can.
It’s not always easy to keep them out of the studio, but we’ve made it clear they can visit, but not stay all the time when the sitter is here!
There have to be boundaries, but as they grow older (my son is 5 and daughter 3) the roar of the torch is not as frightening as it once was and their intrigue grows.
I guess we take it as it comes and when I’m really working hot glass, it’s obvious to them that I’m unable to give attention.
I think both my father and I enjoy the visits!
After all, we’ve always had an easel and work area for them to play at.
How do you balance family and work?
I try to keep a regular schedule five days a week 9-4 so that everyone maintains some sort of tempo. Of course, it never works out perfectly, but at least this keeps us all going. Upcoming shows and time crunches generally change everything, but we deal with that mostly spring and fall, so the pattern helps us stay balanced. My husband John Kenison is super supportive, trying to give me extra time when I need it or watching the kids when I’m traveling. And I couldn’t be productive without work out time, so that takes priority for balancing mind and body.
How did you end up with your studio and home in New Hampshire?
I am a New Hampshire native. I went away to North Carolina and California for school, but New Hampshire is home. Growing up we spent a lot of time vacationing in northern NH and the lakes, ocean and woods is where I derive so much of my inspiration. New Hampshire wild flowers are a part of many of my sculptures and I couldn’t imagine a richer place to be for a nature artist. Our time in New Boston has really enhanced that experience for me.
To see more of Melissa's work, please visit her here