As she scores a straight line on a piece of purple “fusing glass,” on which a piece of dichroic glass will be glued, small shards of glass fall on the foam board below. Faye Kempton snaps the glass, finalizing the cut into a near-perfect rectangle.
“Perfect is nice, but art doesn’t do perfect,” offered Kempton. “Homemade is what it’s all about.”
The dichroic glass looks like a mini-stained glass window, with many colors swirling about, although some pieces can seem monochromatic as well. It can be used in glass blowing, small window ornaments and, of course, jewelry.
Kempton has many of her jewelry and some small window pieces on display at Gallery One in Ocean View and will be teaching a workshop this June.
“I’m self-taught,” said Kempton. “I designed stained glass for many years. It used to be popular as sun catchers. I did church windows. I’m gutsy when it comes to playing. My old boss sold me my first jewelry kiln, and then I got a bigger one and it went from there.”
According to Kempton, the current vice president of the Bethany Beach Watercolor Society and a partner in Gallery One, while she was growing up in small-town Pennsylvania, nobody but the local art teacher got to be an artist.
But fine art was her passion, so she pursued — and earned — a degree in it, “to fall back on,” as her mother told her. She spent much of her adult life raising children and supporting herself in graphic design, interior design and as director of a design firm. And, after retiring, she started painting again and recently got into dichroic glass jewelry-making.
The art of fusing the glass is imperfect, and much like when working with ceramics, the finished product isn’t finished until it comes out of the kiln.
“It’s never done ’til it’s done,” said Kempton.
In addition to Gallery One — which will celebrate its second anniversary April 12 — and the Bethany Beach Watercolor Society, Kempton is involved with, and has been past art chairwoman of the Village Improvement Association of Rehoboth Beach, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary celebration in 2008. The association founded the Rehoboth Beach Library and Art League and is active in awarding scholarships.
After moving to Rehoboth Beach full-time in 1999, Kempton took “every course” at the Rehoboth Art League. She started painting again four and a half years ago. In addition to the dichroic glass jewelry, Kempton is a painter, sculptor and stone carver — something she always felt free to experiment with.
“I wasn’t trying to make a living with it, so I was allowed to dabble,” she said, laughing.
Kempton will be teaching a dichroic glass workshop June 3 and June 10 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Gallery One. The class will emphasize jewelry and small window ornaments. The cost is $25 per session, plus materials.
Participants are being encouraged to take both sessions but can take just one — they will have a finished product after one, and Kempton will offer a pick-up date for them. The class can hold about 10 people comfortably. Interested participants need to visit Gallery One on Route 26 across from Lord Baltimore Elementary to fill out an application. For more information, call (302) 537-5055 or go online at www.galleryonede.com.
“If you love colors, this is for you!” said Kempton, smiling, as she turned her attention back to her own project.