By Shannon Geisen
Glass fusing is an analytical art – a precise formula of calculation, creativity and patience.
Elisa Schaum has been perfecting her technique for a half-decade, learning molten glass’ temperamental qualities, determining ideal weights and volume for exquisite glass bowls, plates, wall hangings, dropped pendant lamps and garden stakes.
“I’m continuing my research, design and education to become a better artist,” she said.
Schaum will demonstrate cutting, fusing and “slumping” glass during Art Leap weekend, the annual driving tour of artists’ studios and other cultural destinations in the Park Rapids area.
Studios, like Schaum’s, will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26-27. Art Leap is free and open to public.
A financial advisor in the Twin Cities by day, Schaum returns to her studio, nestled in the Smokey Hills State Forest, every weekend.
Her interest in glass fusing began five year ago after taking a community education class.
“I fell in love with how glass forms when melted in a kiln,” she says.
First, she took over a small workshop area in the garage, ripping up carpet and painting it to create her studio. She bought a kiln.
Her art proliferated.
“Well, honey, you can’t keep everything,” husband Dave told her.
Glass by Elisa emerged.
Her one-of-a-kind, functional pieces are for sale.
As sales have expanded, so has the need for more space.
Elisa commandeered the garage’s freezer room, ripping up carpet, painting and converting it into a showroom.
Her long-term vision is to open up a full-time studio in the Twin Cities. She also hopes to purchase additional equipment –
lap grinder, wet saw – to expand her techniques.
As her orders increase, Schaum needs to work round-the-clock to keep up.
Crafting a single bowl or platter takes two full days.
“Glass has such a beauty to it. When light hits it, it’s so reflective. It speaks to me,” she said. “Despite the cuts.”
“She’s always wearing Band-aids,” says Dave.
“I’m constantly thinking about glass all the time,” said Elisa. “There are ideas so backed up in my brain that I really want to get out. I have more ideas than time.”
Elisa only attends three arts shows a year – one of them being Art Leap.
She will host potter Cyrus Swann of Pine City in her studio during this year’s Art Leap.
Glass by Elisa can be contacted at 763-516-1280, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
Art Leap brochures, with maps and performance times, are available at the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, the Park Rapids Area Library and on the Park Rapids Lakes Area Arts Council website (www.prlaac.org).
“I have such a passion for creating exquisite, functional pieces of fused glass and to share what glass can become when I design depths of colored glass to create beautiful piece,” writes Elisa on Blank Canvas Gallery (
Schaum recently returned from a professional class about fused glass hosted by Bullseye Glass Company, a leading manufacturer of colored glass for art and architecture with worldwide distribution. It’s based in Portland, Oregon. Schaum purchases her glass sheets from this company.