Submitted by Claire Samulak Columbia Basin Trust
Katherine Russell’s bright, whimsical glass art can be found in galleries across Western Canada—and the internet. Her art features glass pieces turned like honey on a spoon at temperatures up to 1,100°C.
Based in Elkford, BC, Russell teaches art projects in schools and offers workshops from her local kiln studio/gallery and cold shop, and blows glass at a studio in Calgary, AB. She has held exhibits, attended glass conferences, and taken master glass courses across the globe, studying both nationally and internationally to become an expert in her craft.
More recently, Russell has shifted her focus to improve her online presence and reach more people, following one-on-one coaching she received from Columbia Basin Trust’s Basin Business Advisors Program, by taking part in a social media webinar.
“Most people have never seen glass blown, so they can’t imagine how it’s made,” says Russell. “After the webinar, I started taking more videos of what I do. They really work! I can get a few hundred likes, even when I post something that I think is pretty routine or run-of-the-mill. The responses are always surprising.”
Like many people, Russell initially found it uncomfortable and difficult to manage posting on social media. The webinar directly addressed the strengths and weaknesses of Russell’s specific social channels, rather than focusing on generic tips and best practices that anyone could look up online.
“I guess I’m a bit shy,” says Russell. “When I’m not doing something outdoors, I kind of just want to be in my studio making glasswork. But I know full well, if I’m just in my studio making glass for me, nobody knows it’s for sale, nobody knows its value.”
Beyond the pictures of the exquisitely colourful pieces she crafts, Russell’s Facebook and Instagram pages feature videos of the glass-blowing process, as well as highlights from the art classes and camps she runs.
“The webinar was an extremely helpful one-hour session,” said Russell. “I received so many tips from the expert on upgrading low-hanging fruit and re-thinking some of my methods. It reinforced that I absolutely need to be active online so I can keep pursuing my passion. It’s non-negotiable. They provided very tangible information, too, so I knew exactly what I needed to do after participating. And the more I practice, the easier it gets.”