The Wonderland of Glass
“Ever drifting down the stream, lingering in the golden gleam, life what is it but a dream?” penned Lewis Carroll in his classic tale Through the Looking Glass. Through the looking glass we drift into the magical world of glint, glitz, glam, and glee, into the sparkling world of Laughing Glass Studio in Cave Creek. Local artist Carole Perry will freely admit her best inspiration comes from “falling down the rabbit hole of imagination, again and again, to resurface with yet another glass creation more brilliant, fanciful, fun, and useful than the last.
Growing up in Southern Oregon, Carole remembers a remark made by a 4th grade teacher that disparaged her lack of drawing talent. Years later, she would rediscover her love of creating. During her college years, Carole’s roommates were two art majors. They reintroduced her to the world of ceramics. Carole then crackled through every art class she could fit in her schedule, from lost wax to art history. The result was degrees in both English and Art, English to make a living, Art to dream the dream of a ceramics studio/gallery/tea shop.
Upon graduation, Carole found herself tumbling down the rabbit hole of corporate work on a 22-year journey in the computer industry with companies such as Xerox, Alpha Micro, and IBM. Her creativity expressed through designing/production of artistic flip chart presentations as she led the charge into the world of technology. Her mission was introducing CEOs to the money-saving possibilities of using Word Processing Systems. Carole, being the resourceful “wonderland” traveler, took advantage of her business travel throughout the world to visit museums and galleries. Here, in this “through the looking glass land”, she discovered the transformative nature of light and color through the elegance and simplicity of glass. Carole’s “personal heroes” Tom Watson and Lee Iacocca were gradually being replaced by Dale Chihuly, William Morris, and Dick Marquis. Eventually, Carole found herself on a “walk in the woods” returning to Oregon for a 3-week extended vacation to attend workshops at Camp Colton, a glass school. It was 1990; transformation was underway with Carole’s signature sculpture, Glass Tapestries, coming into form.
In the early 1990s, glass artists in Arizona were few and far between. Carole found she could attend classes with Tom Philabaum in Tucson and Jim Antonius in Prescott to lay the foundation for what would turn into her extremely successful glass artist career. Along the way, good friends Ed and Kay Botkin, both brilliant glass artists, helped her solve technical problems and kept her informed of new materials and tools. As Carole’s expertise grew, she ran into a cast of characters that would help build her career and reputation as a glass artist into international proportions. Steven and Patty Correia of Correia Art Glass in Santa Monica helped Carole transfer her computer industry marketing skills to her art business. Along the way, Carole was able to define herself as an artist, and her business into very specific categories, the perfect blend of right-brain talents with left-brain skills.
Today, Carole’s modern “wonderland” looks like the aisles of the local Home Depot, here she searches for the “cool stuff”, tools and hardware, to include in her vast catalogue of glass creations. She and husband Don Carroll, also a glass artist, cover every possible application of glass creation from fine art to everyday use and then some. They are 20-year participants in Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour every November, sponsored by the Sonoran Arts League. Here, Carole reflects, “Many of the most popular glass gifts we create are the direct result of one of the visitors beginning a sentence with ‘Have you ever thought about making?’ We really enjoy custom work and the evolution of a glass design as multiple creative energies collide.”
The journey through the looking glass has brought Carole into her glass “wonderland” fulltime for over 26 years. Her work has been seen in numerous invitational shows across the country and part of numerous private and public collections. She has enjoyed the attention of such publications as Southwest Art, Art & Antiques, Design & Architecture, and Phoenix Home & Garden, just to name a few. No matter how successful or busy Carole becomes, she continues to be a motivating factor in the local community as the chair of the annual Empty Bowls Project, held in October to benefit the Foothills Food Bank & Resource Center, as past president of the Sonoran Arts League, and supporting high school glass programs. Carole is also represented by Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery in Prescott, Arizona.
To view Carole’s vast array of work, gallery representation, contact her for information, buy or commission pieces, visit www.LaughingGlass.com.
Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield on firstname.lastname@example.org.