Artist Kathleen Russell will open her glass studio to the public on Aug. 8-9.

Columbia Basin Culture Tour opens to public

Seventh annual Columbia Basin Culture Tour takes place Aug. 8-9.

Art comes in all shapes and forms, but for most people, the only part of the process that’s seen is the final product.

But this month, the public is invited into dozens of venues to see some behind-the-scene action as artists open their doors and demonstrate their work live.

This year marks the seventh annual Columbia Basin Culture Tour, taking place Aug. 8-9.

One Elkford artist taking part is Katherine Russell, who will open her glass studio to members of the public.

“It’s an opportunity for the public to go to venues that aren’t normally open to the public,” Russell said, adding hers is a working studio and because of the nature of the work she does with blown and kiln-form glass art, it’s rarely open for people to have a look around. “It’s a chance for people to see how artists are working, to purchase work that isn’t normally available and to support artists in our community, to see what they do and how they work.”

Russell’s studio will be open both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., where she will do a variety of demonstrations, including grinding and polishing glass and sand carving.

“I’m going to have a whole bunch of works-in-progress of the sand carving, so that means I fuse layers of glass in the kiln and then I draw on it and I carve through the layers to make imagery, so I’ll be showing that in several stages until I have a finished piece,” she said, adding she will also be pulling murrini – a decorative technique. “That’s when you load the kiln with layers of glass and then when it’s hot enough, about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, it will come out the bottom and there will be rings of colour in that.”

While she’s been perfecting her craft for the past decade, Russell didn’t start working with glass.

“I went to Alberta College of Art and Design where I started the program in design as a graphic designer, but I very quickly switched over to the glass blowing program because it was much, much more exciting,” she said with a laugh. “It was just loud and sweaty and fun, and it was just a totally different work environment that I totally took to.”

The artist said events like the Columbia Basin Culture Tour are important because it brings people into the studios to see what’s going on, and with techniques like glass blowing, the average person likely doesn’t know what goes into the different processes.

“I think especially in glass, it’s hard to imagine how it’s made until you see it. I think almost everybody is familiar with the drawing process or a painting process, but less so for glass because it needs heat and it needs a lot of equipment so a lot of people don’t have access to see that,” she said. ‘You wouldn’t learn that, say, in a regular school system or whatnot, so said seeing the studio will give more insight into how that type of art is made.”

Everyone is welcome to drop by Russell’s studio during the tour, located in Elkford at 118 Cariboo Dr. and for those with questions for the artists, she can be reached at 250-665-8005.

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