Lori Heninger, PhD, is the owner of Fish Glass, a lampworking studio in West Orange, NJ. Lori had worked as a full-time fine-craft jeweler and sculptor prior to getting her MSW and PhD in social welfare. For the next 25 years, she focused on international humanitarian and development issues; however, she has always remained involved in creating fine crafts as well as 2-D work. Lori won a New Jersey Council on the Arts Fellowship and has displayed her work in museums, galleries and major craft shows across the United States.
During a trip to Seattle in 2014, a friend introduced me to lampwork glass. She specializes in fused glass, and had just started to work with a torch. From the moment I sat down at her bench, I was mesmerized. When we got home, I bought a book on lampworking, and read it from cover to cover multiple times while I waited for my glass ‘starter pack’ to arrive.
Since that time I have taught myself how to create beads and forms, both on- and off-mandrel, which I have then turned into sculpture, housewares and jewelry. The skills I learned as a full-time craft jeweler have helped me greatly in this new medium.
Lampworking is a process of taking glass rods and melting them with a torch, using an oxygen/propane mix, and shaping the glass into something new.
I am fascinated by small worlds; lampwork allows me to create work that mandates an intimacy between the viewer and the piece. Whether that intimacy is the physical touching of glass to skin, as in glass transformed into wearable art, or the visual proximity needed to explore the detailed depths of a sculptural element, lampwork is a perfect medium upon which to build that relationship.
I am also taken with the world beneath the sea, particularly fish and other marine creatures. I’ve found inspiration in the shape, movement of and reflection of light off schools of fish and have worked to incorporate those elements into my sculpture. Using transparent and opaque glass, etching solution and fine silver allows me to create the kind of contrasts I’ve seen while scuba diving, and the fluidity of molten glass provides for the possibility of capturing motion.