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Galaxies in glass: Shuswap glass artist inspired by space and beauty of British Columbia

Kyle Cosford of Cosford Glass finds new fans at White Lake Turtle Fest

“I should have made more turtles,” says Kyle Cosford with a laugh.

The Anglemont-based glass artisan’s table, displaying his colourful turtle creations, jewelry, bottle stoppers and other pieces, was a popular stop at the White Lake Turtle Festival held at the White Lake Community Hall on Saturday, April 15. Cosford said the public response he received was great, and the turtles were certainly in demand.

The artist behind Cosford Glass and Fire and Ash Memorials, Cosford said people will be able to see more of his work at upcoming community markets, including the Spring-A-Fair Market being held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 6 at the 5th Avenue 50 Plus Activity Centre in Salmon Arm. As of May 2, his art will also be at the Shuswap Artisan Market in Sorrento.

Cosford explained the type of work he does is called lampwork – glasswork in which a torch is used to melt the glass, which gets formed using blowing and shaping tools and hand movements. He uses borosilicate glass, also called “scientific glass” – also known as “hard glass,” which differs from “soft glass” that is typically used for drinking glasses and other household items.

Cosford said he’d been doing lampwork as a hobby for about two years, until a year ago when he was at place where he could begin selling pieces. Now, his work is being sold in the Shuswap and world over, with collectors in Japan and the U.S.

“I’m happy to say I’ve got pieces in many peoples’ collections throughout the world,” said Cosford, humbled by people’s interest in his creations. “It is appreciated by some people and I get a lot of comments that people find a lot of beauty in them, so that’s really nice to get that.”

Cosford said he first became interested in glass art in 2018, when he lived in Calgary. Fascinated by glass art he’d seen online, he eventually found someone who could teach him the craft. Cosford took a few lessons before setting up his own studio in a shed in his backyard.

“I purchased my first torch and set of tools, the bare basics, and just started playing from there,” said Cosford. “I think I did almost two years of that in Calgary, and then the last year and a half we moved out to B.C. and I was able to construct a nice little studio in my property in Anglemont.

“I’ve got a little studio in the trees that I work out of. I’m very inspired by nature and the lakes around me – just kind of the beauty of B.C. has been incredible for me.”

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Cosford explained lampworking for him is both a passion and an ongoing education. He said two of his favourite things to work with are gold and silver. Through a process called “fuming,” he uses his torch to essentially vaporize the precious metal.

“It forms a coating on the piece of glass I’m working with, and it can create just a wild variation of colours, pretty much every colour of the rainbow can come out of just the different layers and the way the light reflects,” said Cosford.

Another material he incorporates in a similar fashion are synthetic opals. He explained they have to be synthetic as real opals can have water content, which can cause the glass to explode.

“Everything is so deep and there are reasons behind temperatures and what certain glass will withstand and other materials, they’ll boil at different temperatures or lose their colouration…,” said Cosford. “It’s an endless rabbit hole; there are just so many different techniques and things to try and experiment.”

With Fire and Ash Memorials, Cosford takes the cremated ash of deceased loved ones and pets to create table displays or pendants for people to wear. One of his popular pieces is the Galaxy Memorial Stone, large glass marble that appears to contain a galaxy within.

“I’ve always been fascinated with space and one of the really beautiful effects I’ve been able to get in glass is kind of a galaxy, universe effect,” said Cosford. “With people’s ashes, when it’s encased in glass, it ends up looking like white flecks, which goes great as essentially being stars in these tiny universes encased in glass. That’s one of my favourite styles of piece to do with those memorial pieces – I guess envisioning somebody being among the stars as their final resting place.”

In addition to pursuing his lampwork full time, Cosford has other related plans. One is to try and raise awareness of and grow the glass art community.

“I’m hoping in the next couple of years I’ll be able to expand and start offering lessons and maybe grow a little bit of a community of people that are interested in pursuing glass art,” said Cosford. “Maybe even take on an apprentice if I find people that are interested. I have all those plans right now but they’re definitely going to be down the road.”

Cosford’s work, including some of his turtles, can be found on his Cosford Glass page on Etsy. It can also be found at
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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