Featured Glass Artist: Roger Thomas

Roger Thomas, owner of Roger Thomas Glass in Portland, Oregon, is well-known for his innovations in fused glass techniques, as well as his kiln-formed glass paintings. As a self-professed “maker of things,” Roger became an artist by accident and feels that art is the detritus of the creative act, and creating is a worthwhile goal for his life.

Inspired by nature, color, design, and structure, Roger has been working with glass since the 1970’s. Roger chooses to work with one of the most unforgiving mediums in the art world simply because he’s so easily distracted.  Color, design and structure tempt him wherever he goes, and he’s well known for wandering off when he finds a copse of trees that he absolutely must photograph.  He claims the medium of wood is too soft—he regularly slaughtered his wood-working projects in school—and paint is too temporary.  Watercolors fade and pastels can disappear like sidewalk chalk in a rainstorm.

Glass is something so belligerent and unyielding that it creates a narrow set of confines for him to work his will on.  It demands whoever wishes to master it learn to work their own magic.  Each of Roger’s iconic images was once a technique, learned and taught as an attempt to work within those narrow confines.  By now, these techniques to him are second nature, enabling him to take pictorial art and abstract it, so that the representation surpasses the technique, and giving him the chance to extract the essence of form in order to communicate his view of the world to others.

Roger’s current studio has been a life-long dream and he is constantly improving it. Ingrid, the faithful studio dog, watches over Roger and his artistic endeavors, offering praise and critique, when needed. You can catch a glimpse into Roger’s world through his dog’s eyes, in his blog “News from Ingrid”.

Roger has pieces in many important collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.  His work has been shown at the Corning Museum of Art, New York, as well as in other museums and galleries.  Thomas regularly teaches workshops and college courses in the United States and international venues.
Roger has shared his skills in our classroom on several occasions – often selling out in one day! His vision for layering  glass to create depth of design is remarkable.

“Glass rewards careful planning, creative thinking and avid determination in a medium that is endlessly and spectacularly fascinating. Since the 1970’s Ed Hoy’s has supplied the tools of my career, first in leaded glass, then in fused glass. The breadth of materials, tools and information has always kept me up to date.”