Artist Spotlight Series: Claire Kelly

A few years ago I saw the work of my last Artist Spotlight Series feature at Penland School of Crafts Gallery.  I was instantly mesmerized by the perfection and sinuous lines of this whimsical yet utterly, impossibly beautiful craft.

Glass always gets me, as I feel the work will you.

I will have a piece of hers in my personal collection one day. 

Claire Kelly

Providence, Rhode Island

What is your training? 

I went to Art School at Alfred University where I was introduced to glass. Since then I have worked professionally in glass my entire career. I’d say a big influence early on was working for Robin Mix in VT. I learned a lot from him and he really put me through my paces as a glassblower.


What inspires you and your designs?

Animals, color, memory, and pattern. Much of my recent work centers on elephants due to their unique role as beloved childhood toy, popular decorative figure with a strong history in glassmaking, and a perilously threatened species.

(my personal favorite)


What is your favorite piece?

A piece I made two years ago: 

Tidal Locking                   


11 x 13 ½ x 7 ½ ”  

28 x  34.25 x 19 cm  

Glass: Blown, sculpted, and assembled. String

What I keep coming back to with this piece is the relationship between the two elephants and the combination of the forms to reflect a hilly landscape. I need to keep going with work like this!


How has the your area influenced your work?

I can’t put my finger on it but Providence is a great small city. I am fortunate that I live in a place where I can have my pets (one dog, three cats). I love that I can take them outside and hang out in the yard.

What is your favorite restaurant in Providence?

There is a lot of great Italian food in Providence and I prefer a restaurant called Bacaro because it’s Italian but they have a lot of small dishes. The food is light and fresh.

What is your favorite cocktail? 

Gin and tonics in the summer, mainly because my mom makes the best one!


How do you balance personal life and work?

I don’t! It’s all part of the same structure. But I am cautious about taking time for myself when I’m very busy or else I can get too tired and that’s when accidents happen. 


Dream trip?

I’d love to go to the Galapagos,

but I also love snorkeling on St. John. 


Dream commission?

A Noahs Ark. This is a project I’ve been thinking about for a while. I’m picturing an installation where you follow a meandering track with the animals to the Ark. It would be a challenging piece and I’d need figure out how to create all the different animals and design an amazing mosaic pattern for the Ark in blown glass.


Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

Handmade wine cups.

(these are from Bernstein Glass)


Who is your style icon?

Emilio Pucci. Such devastating color and design.

Your favorite up and coming artist?

Kit Paulson is a wonderful glass artist whose work I’ve been coveting. 


What is your most treasured possession?

A framed piece of elephant wallpaper from my bedroom as a child.



What are you reading?

Glenn Adamson’s “Fewer, Better Things: The Hidden Wisdom of Objects.


What are you listening to?

I listen to a lot of books on tape when I’m cutting up glass for mosaics or driving. I recently finished Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. It was gripping and very well written.  

I haven’t seen the HBO series they made from the book but I bet it was GOOD.

What are your favorite blogs / publications?

I subscribe to the craft publications Glass: Quarterly and American Craft. I think I get most of my information about what’s going on from Instagram! 

Take a gander at the INCREDIBLE work of Claire Kelly.

Follow her on Instagram and her website



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