Copper in the Arts

December 2012

Melinda Jacobson: Creating Beautiful Partnerships with Glass And Copperfoil

By Nancy Ballou

Meja Glass plates. Meja Glass plates with copper foil designs.

Photograph courtesy of Melinda Jacobson

It is easy to fall in love with glass, especially while watching the skilled artisans at Disneyland construct characters with a torch. From childhood, Melinda Jacobson grew up admiring anything from stained glass to crystal. When she eventually took a fused glass class with a friend at Aquila Art Glass School in North Portland, OR, the experience blossomed into a fascinating hobby. She used the first two letters of both her first and last names to help identify her work at art shows and Meja Glass was born. She has been selling at summer sales and during the winter holiday seasons for four years now.

"Aquila offers studio space and they make it very easy to explore various aspects of glass using their tools, molds (to slump into different shapes), kilns, etc.," she says. "There is space for you to leave your glass there for a nominal yearly fee and they charge for the firing by the square inch. It was here that I first saw copperfoil used with glass.

Jacobsen has perfected her technique over the years.

"The challenge is that it can create bubbles in between the layers of glass," she says. "It's important to roll it out very flat before beginning and to only use a little glue to hold it in place. They actually recommend hairspray to provide adherency without too much moisture that tends to bubble."

Copper ornaments.Copper ornaments.

Photograph courtesy of Melinda Jacobson

She begins by placing the copperfoil between two layers of art glass that has been cut for either an ornament or a plate.

"I smooth it flat, clean it and press it into the glass," she says. "Once the design work is done it is fired in a kiln to fuse it between the glass layers. What I find amazing is that the copper changes color and is sometimes multi-colored within one piece. I've had pieces that are copper-colored, burgundy, teal and black. It supplies interest, richness and is an easy way to add decorative touches to my artwork."

Trial and error have been needed to see which glass best enhances the copper. Jacobson says her daughter sometimes goes with her and was the first to try it on black. "I didn't know if the copperfoil would show up because sometimes it gets quite dark in the firing process," she recalls. "But her finished piece was beautiful. I now use the copperfoil on black quite often. And, the alchemy of fire and light entices me to keep exploring."

Jacobson is a member of the Oregon Glass Guild and will likely be in their "Gathering of The Guilds" show at the Oregon Convention Center, April 26 to 28. Her copperfoil pieces were recently on display at French American International School Holiday Market, Saturday, Dec. 8 at the FAIS Campus in Portland.


Melinda Jacobson, Meja Glass, North Portland, OR

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