Artist Houston Llew in Breckenridge gallery | SummitDaily.com

Artist Houston Llew in Breckenridge gallery

Summit Daily staff report
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Artist Houston Llew's Spiritiles are created from molten glass on copper. Llew's discovery of the ancient vitreous enamel medium late in 2008 launched him to the forefront of America's young artists. Every piece is created to capture life's spirited moments. Llew will be signing his original works in the Raitman Art Galleries' Breckenridge location on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16–17, from 5–7 p.m.

Llew returns to Breckenridge this weekend to meet and greet collectors of his work. This show brings a conclusion to a year that has seen 18 new designs added to his collection. Not only is Llew's imagery alive with light and color, each Spiritile is packed with a positive message. Llew captures a mix of famous and obscure quotes to feature on the sides of each of his pieces. This is more than a common theme for Llew's work, it serves as more of a guiding principle for every new creation. His new design featuring a detailed globe on a blue background and a quote from Dr. Seuss reads, "To the world you may be just one person, but to one person, you may be the world."

Llew mentored under the modern master of the vitreous enamel medium, the artist Zingaro. In search of a more riveting career, Llew headed westbound in 2008. He landed at his mother's house in New Mexico, and she happened to be dating Zingaro at the time. Fittingly, she has since married Zingaro, making Llew's journey into the art world a family story.

Zingaro had studied under enamelist Craig Ruwe towards the end of Ruwe's life. With vitreous enamel becoming a dying art form, Ruwe charged Zingaro with passing along the medium to seven apprentices. Along came Llew, with both perfect timing and a passion for learning. Llew quickly developed his own flexible style within the medium, combining his knack for realism within the challenging medium with an appreciation for ancient techniques like sgraffito and crazing.

Each Spiritile is created with tiny, sand-sized bits of molten glass. Llew drops the glass through little sifters onto flat sheets of copper. A key component of Llew's work is an appreciation for home, both the glass and the copper are produced here in the United States. Llew incorporates the use of playing cards to carefully shape the glass into form. The cards provide him with a straight, yet flexible edge. With steady hands Llew designs his work, readying it for a careful placement in one of his kilns. The kiln is fired up to exactly 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme heat enamels the glass to the copper, permanently fixing the two mediums together. In essence, Llew uses glass for his paint and copper for his canvas. The end result is a perfect homage to an ancient medium.

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