Sharon Owens

Tippecanoe County


Inspired Fire
Furnace, Flame-worked, hand-blown glass

Glass artist Sharon Owens is about community.  “I enjoy working with people,” she says; and it shows in her work with students at her Inspired Fire studio in Lafayette, collaborations on her work with glass artists statewide and in hosting and learning from glass masters in Italy and around the world.

Sharon launched her teaching studio, Inspired Fire, nearly a dozen years ago, and she founded the flameworking program at the Indianapolis Arts Center the same year she co-founded Lafayette’s Artist’s Own Co-op.  Well before that, she studied with internationally recognized glass artist Lucio Bubacco in Venice, Italy studio.  “Lucio has had the most profound influence on my journey as an artist,” Sharon said. I studied with Lucio in Italy in 1983 and brought his style and technique back to Indiana to share with my students. He has been a visiting artist at my studio throughout the years.”

Sharon continues to study with masters of glass.  “In addition to working with Lucio for decades, I’ve had the opportunity to study with Paul Stankard, Richard Ritter, Mark Pieser, Dante Marioni, Dick Marquis, Mark Petrovich, Kari Russell-Pool, and many others.  I’m thrilled that I can pass those experiences and lessons along to our local community,” she said.

Her classical education in techniques and knowledge has been incorporated into her work for more than 30 years, and Sharon regularly shares that with her students.  “I believe my work reflects the knowledge and influence of many fine teachers,” she said.  “And continuing to hone that, and especially to be able to pass it on, is why I opened Inspired Fire Studio and Gallery.  Here, we embrace public participation, and this is where students and visitors can see other fine Indiana artisans and international glass artists’ work.”  In addition to classes, Inspired Fire offers a large gallery and art sales space Sharon offers to Hoosier artists who work in a variety of media.

“As an Indiana native, my vision is derived from my love and interaction with the natural environment,” she said.  “I am moved by Indiana’s wildflowers, crimson tulips, yellow daffodils, blushes of dogwood, and the intensity of the spring colors during my horseback rides through the country; these aspects of nature influence my glass art and are represented in my murrine flower designs.”

The design of Sharon’s work reflects the complex forms and expresses the minute details she enjoys in nature. “I have distilled the techniques of glass blowing to represent the fields, the rivers, and the plant life of my state. Just as the regional landscape painters captured the light and attitude of our area, I tried to layer the colors and movements of T.C. Steele and Otis Adams on the surfaces of my vessels. I strive to communicate transparencies, opacities, layers, and represent the complexities of nature in my work.”

Sharon’s work has a unique look and uses vivid colors of cane and dichroic glass and the murrine process.  She practices a two-step production, creating her flame work pieces in her Inspired Fire studio, where visitors oftentimes visit to observe her technique, and her furnace work at a studio near Indianapolis.  During the process, she can spend a month creating pieces and parts and then, later, she heats those to 2,000 degrees to combine them for a beautiful end result. “Often I will create ten to fifteen layers in a single piece,” she said.  “The murrine process involves several work periods of five to six hours in which each color of glass is elongated to the length of a room in a pencil sized diameter, and several colors are used in each piece.  This process is time intensive, and the result is beautiful.”

Sharon’s work was selected to represent Indiana in 1995 when it was chosen by the Clinton White House to ornament a Christmas tree.  Locally, her profile as an accomplished artist was raised when Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon and Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski selected her glasswork as both gifts and for recognition.  And her work is part of many private collections, including that of Grammy-winning artist Graham Nash.

People, however, are at the core of Sharon’s work.  “I encourage students to pursue whatever suits them best,” she said, “and then I can teach skills along that particular line because I enjoy blowing and doing, say, goblets, as well sculptural pieces and figures, and a large variety of work in between. In college, I studied art, and my background is in ceramics and print-making. Bottom-line, I enjoy working with people.”