Toni Gerlach, Glass Artist

Toni Gerlach
Glass Artist

Toni GerlachHow did your creative journey begin?

I’ve always loved art and working with lots of different mediums. I really knew I wanted to work with glass when I saw Dale Chihuly’s glass installation at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

What drew you to your glass bowing?

At fifteen I took a glass class, similar to those that I offer. It blew me away! I loved the intensity of working with something molten. The consistency of molten glass is like honey, then when the piece cools it becomes so fragile and solid.

How did you learn to work with glass?

I continued classes at the local studio. In my twenties, I pursued a glass blowing career by receiving a Visual Arts degree with an emphases in glass from Cal State University San Marcos. I learned the basics in college, but it has really been in the last five years that I’ve grown into the artist I am now. I continue my glass education by taking one or two classes a year from other glass artists at glass institutes around the country.

Toni Gerlach, Glass ArtistWhat inspires your style?

As I’ve grown as an artist, my style has been fueled by the things I love, especially nature. My real passion is glass sculpture. Many of my sculptures are horses, feathers, trout, and other parts of the outdoor world. When I’m not making art I spend my time with my husband and dogs, camping, fishing, and just enjoying the beautiful Black Hills. These passions naturally find their way into my art.

What other materials do you use?

Glass is my material! I incorporate some decorative add-ons such as leather, beads, and metal stands.

What types of glass do you make?

Functional glass: jars, bowls, vases, paperweights, etc. Although the art of sculpting glass, fish, horses, feathers, buffalo skulls is my true passion.

Toni Gerlach Horse HeadTell us about your favorite piece?

A large horse head adorned with glass feathers that I sculpted at Corning Museum of Glass. It turned out great and impressed the instructor who is a world famous glass sculptor; that was an amazing feeling!

Why did you expand your art to teaching others?

I enjoy others experiencing and working with glass for the first time. There’s nothing quite like it. Participants are looking for a unique experience. I enjoy that this is something I can give them. I appreciate getting to know the students as we work one-on-one together to make a one-of-a-kind piece of glass.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Believe in yourself and your art. Follow your dreams and make new ones along the way. It’s cliché but, if there is a will there is a way.

Where can we see/buy your work?

My studio in Deadwood at 73 Sherman St. We are open year around.
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