Sylvia Chesson Creates Fused-Glass Artworks

Her sculptures, functional pieces, and glass paintings are impressionistic reflections of life experiences.


Artist Sylvia Chesson spends hours creating her refined fused-glass pieces.

Photos courtesy of Sylvia Chesson

Fused-glass artist Sylvia Chesson was living in El Cerrito when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989. With roads blocked and traffic snarled in its aftermath, she accidentally crossed a bridge into Alameda, and everything seemed calm. She told herself, “This is where I’ll find peace.” She has been in Alameda ever since, sharing her creations by way of her GlasstudioVia.

Chesson creates kiln-fired free-standing and wall-mounted sculptures, functional pieces like bowls and sushi trays, and glass paintings. Her work is an impressionistic reflection of life experiences. That could be “one of those things that hit you like this,” she said, beating her chest. The inspiration could be as somber as the death of a friend or as straightforward as a trip to Alaska, its essence depicted by fragments of glacial ice embedded in a sea of blue glass represented by the same dichroic glass designed for high-end optical use by NASA.

Materials like these are expensive, so Chesson does not advise “winging it” where fused glass is concerned. She pores over technical books provided by the glass manufacturer. “I need to be mindful that all the glass I work with in a piece has the same coefficient of expansion, otherwise you can get cracking, crazing, and total explosions,” she exclaimed, clearly excited.

Another significant investment is the artist’s time. In one piece she placed 275 “staccato” strips of glass to provide a subtle accent to the piece. For another she spent four hours stacking glass dots with a pair of tweezers, each six-pieces high, knowing that in the firing they would shrink upon one another to a 1/4-inch height.

Although glass is durable, it is notoriously fragile. After spending weeks or months on a piece, “It’s with sweaty palms that you pass it over for someone to haul to their car,” she said. “I freak out. You’re taking home one of my babies.”

See more of the artist’s at the Alameda Art Association’s gallery at South Shore Center or online at

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