An indulgence in visual intricacies: Hazel Glass

I have always been creating, as long as I can remember. Drawing came first, then writing, then photography, all before becoming a teenager. At what point did what I was creating become what others would call “art”? I suppose to know that, we would first have to answer the age-old question, “What is art?” For myself, I am just as bewitched by the scribbles in an art journal as I am by two-story tall paintings declared masterpieces in a museum. It just depends upon what speaks to you.

I first came across Hazel‘s work through her Instagram account. I was truly mesmerised by the perplexity and the delicacy of her artworks. The combination of colors, the well-fined paper, along with the careful cuts not only catch the eye but pop-up a great question: HOW?

Hazel Glass is an American self-taught artist who traveled the world form more than a decade, gained inspiration and experience and a few years ago decided to officially focus on her cut paper works. She is an illustrator, a photographer, a designer, but most of all she’s a Xacto Blade Master. Her talent has been recognised by the experts while several exhibitions have been hosted displaying her artworks on Verum Ultimum Gallery, SCAD and Kraken Kayaks in the Great Lakes.

Her works tell stories. Οne can imagine everything through the patterns; the princes and princesses, the dragons and the flames, the sadness and the happiness all come to life storytelling another amazing tale. The created lines and shapes form infinite labyrinths inviting you to touch the routes, close your eyes and let the design get you where the design wants. Either falling in the Rabbithole finding Alice in Wonderland or ending up admiring the greatness of a medieval castle from afar, Hazel‘s works promise to make everyone fall in love with this woman’s talent!

As the artist herself mention on her official website, it’s “an indulgence in visual intricacies”. I feel really lucky that I had the chance to know her better though our talk.

Meet Hazel Glass and her hand-cut masterpieces…

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Hello Hazel! I would like to welcome you to The ART.gallery. We are very happy to share your story with our audience…

Thank you so much for inviting me to be in such an aesthetically pleasing company!

You hold a degree in Fine Arts, and specifically in Illustration, so it’s obvious that you realized soon that you are interested in the Arts! One can admire your work on the walls of Verum Ultimum Gallery, in SCAD’s permanent collection, but also at the handcrafted wooden hulls of Kraken Kayaks in the Great Lakes. Would you like to share your story with us?

Actually, I do not have a degree. After graduating from high school I spent almost two decades traveling the world to educate myself through experiences, gather stories, and absorb all of the amazing sights that would inform my visual style. At the age of 34, I decided that I was ready to take my work to a more professional level, so I finally applied to art school. I took 5 terms at SCAD, and one term at PNCA. At that point, I discovered that I had outgrown school (though I would love to go back and study art history!), so I decided to give freelancing a go. Since that time three years ago, I have illustrated the covers of two books, shown work in over 20 fine art exhibitions, and had my art licensed for apparel and other design applications.

My goals moving forward take me in two separate directions simultaneously: To apply my designs into production art, like laser-cut paper editions, metal jewelry, and a series of illustrated story cards; and also to push my fine art towards original artist books, where I can see my love for design, illustration, writing, photography, and cutting paper all coming together.

What’s the first time you got involved and actually created art?

I’m not certain that I can answer that question. I have always been creating, as long as I can remember. Drawing came first, then writing, then photography, all before becoming a teenager. At what point did what I was creating become what others would call “art”? I suppose to know that, we would first have to answer the age-old question, “What is art?” For myself, I am just as bewitched by the scribbles in an art journal as I am by two-story tall paintings declared masterpieces in a museum. It just depends upon what speaks to you.

I work on whatever is inspiring me at the moment. Sometimes I come back to thumbnail designs a year or more after I originally conceived the idea.

The Rabbit Hole by Hazel Glass
The Rabbit Hole by Hazel Glass

Later on, in 2015 if I’m not mistaken, you’ve started your cut paper collections; something completely different from just paper art. Can you share with us the making process of an artwork of that kind?

It’s true that I embarked upon my cut paper journey in earnest in 2015, though my very first piece was a 19-page art book in 2012. While my techniques have grown and changed over the years, most of my work follows the same basic steps: First I draw a design down on paper; second I break it into different layers and create templates for each layer; next I choose a color palette and do color studies to figure out which layers should be what color/value (this part alone can take days!); then I get to hand cut all the layers out of their designated colored papers, and finally I glue them all together so that they align precisely.

What material do you usually work with, and how long does it take to complete one piece?

I always work with archival papers and glues, and very rarely I incorporate alcohol inks to alter the tone of a colored paper or add texture to some translucent vellum. How long a piece takes to make completely depends upon the piece. I have done one as quickly as 3 or 4 hours, while others have taken over 100 hours.

Are the hand-cut paper works created upon commission only, and are the pieces unique?

I only do commissions on occasion. Most of my work is a result of me following my meandering artistic vision and seeing where it takes me. I will always have a pile of ideas higher than I can keep up with, and they all lead in different directions. So I work on whatever is inspiring me at the moment. Sometimes I come back to thumbnail designs a year or more after I originally conceived the idea.

She Parts The Trees by Hazel Glass
She Parts The Trees
Slowly They Gruble Into the Sea
Slowly They Gruble Into the Sea

How did you start creating artworks with cut paper? Were you familiar with this type of art before creating your own pieces?

I had never heard of papercutting as a medium before I made my first piece. It was actually an assignment for a design class, and I found great satisfaction in designing multiple layered pieces. Cutting them out with a xacto blade felt second nature to me. I have always had an intense focus for meticulous detail, and my drawings are generally very clean with controlled lines, so I fell into the process immediately, and made it my own. The head of the design department at SCAD loved my first piece so much that he insisted on purchasing it, so I could see I was onto something! It wasn’t until years later when I began focusing most of my creative energy into my paper art and started showing it in exhibitions, that I learned how different my style and techniques are from other paper artists.

You are also a photographer focusing on shadows and reflections. What’s your inspiration?

Inspirations for all of my art can be found in my photography. I hunt down organic textures in rust, moss and lichen, weathered wood, strata in the rocks. I find rich palettes both muted and vibrant. But most of all I am taken with the patterns I find in nature. As a designer, I am smitten with symmetry and repeating patterns, but those natural motifs that I find in tree roots, the cracks of peeling paint, ripples in a dune or the face of a stream, are huge influences on my drawings. My goal is to capture images that seem otherworldly and can stand alone as abstract works of art.

You have several past exhibitions in your portfolio, especially on your papercutting artwork. What’s next?

I currently have work on display at Verum Ultimum Gallery, and Guardino Gallery in Portland, as well as the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles down in California. Coming up I will be in an exhibition at Wallow Gallery in Carlton, Oregon, for October and November. After that is the annual show at Guardino called Little Things for the month of December.

Thank you very much. I very much enjoyed our talk. We wish you the best on your upcoming shows!


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