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Glass Vegas Artist Feature – Fiona PhoenixFire

Glass Vegas Artist Feature – Fiona PhoenixFire

By Amy Short

Feature photo: Doug Baldwin 

What does your work aim to say?

My work aims to say that it is important to return to ceremony. No matter where you are from, all our ancestors have ceremonies to harmonize the ebb and flow of life and its cycles.

How does your work comment on current social or political issues?

I feel like my work is pointing specifically to indigenous ritual tools like the ceremonial pipe because the ongoing erasure of indigenous cultures never stopped. We must be able to talk about it. On a personal note, bringing more ceremony into my daily life and reconnecting with my cultures has been very powerful. Both personal and cultural conversations are important. The whole point of ceremony is to nourish our spirits and relationships in the face of a very difficult time politically and otherwise.

Who are your biggest influences?

My lover, my teacher, and co-parent, Turtle @turtletimeglass. He has taught me anything I could ever ask to learn on the torch. My other biggest influence is Sarah @saritaglass. Where Turtle is more of a mentor and teacher, Sarah is my classmate and peer. We had the pleasure of being shop mates for several years early in my career, and we got to learn a lot together. I have gotten to watch her follow her creative voice and build a successful business by my side and I am so inspired by her. She is also one of my best friends and soul sisters.

Photo: Michal Grattaroti

How have you developed your career?

First was the access that Turtle provided to me, the industry, and our community. I had no idea the glass pipe world even existed before I met him. He taught me how to do cold calls with head shops, how to price my work & how to run a booth at a trade show. The second part of developing my business was really staying true to my creative visions and message. Ultimately what I love about being a glass artist is that being successful depends largely on your relationships. Working together with other artists and head shops and taking care of those relationships makes us all stronger & it helps the artistic message to get out.

How do you seek out opportunities?

If I was talking to someone just starting out and they are looking for opportunities, I would tell them to start researching anything close by in their area such as local head shops, other artists, craft fairs, and farmers markets. I have been able to develop relationships with the local head shops, and sometimes they have events, including glass blowing completions or glass blowing demonstrations, and you never know which one of these connections will lead you into a new opportunity. I would encourage anyone to say yes whenever possible to new experiences, collaborations as well as being flexible and staying open to trying new things.

How do you cultivate a collector base?

Under promise and overdeliver! Stay humble and have integrity with your word and operate with kindness. People like my work, but they also tell me how much they appreciate how well I communicate with them and how I make them feel. As important as skill and artistic vision is, it comes back to how well you take care of your relationships.

Why do you do what you do?

There are so many reasons why I do what I do. A very deep reason is that I feel like I am doing something important for my community. The world is crazy right now, and people tell me that my work helps them feel connected to their smoking ceremony in a deeper way. If my work helps people connect to the magic of the universe for healing and change-making, then that is the greatest gift I can hope to give.

How do you work?

Photo: Alexis Joy

I work when the kid is in school. I am very strategic; I have rhythms that I follow. I like to open all the handles from yesterday’s work, burn a little plant medicine to help the session, and if I am working on production, I like to prep batches of pieces at one time and get as many finishes in the kiln as possible. If I am making a one-of-a-kind piece, it’s a slower process with more time in between moves also more time to sketch and make the next decision. It’s more of a journey and less regimented than production time. I also dance and sing a lot at my torch!

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What’s your background?

My background is in the performing arts. I have always been into theatre, singing, and writing. I have some phycology education in school, I have had customer service jobs, but the call to use creativity as a tool for healing and transformation has always been a part of my life. In glass, I have been on the torch since 2011.

I have been running a successful production and glass art business as a wholesaler to shops as well as online and at local art markets. I have been the first-place winner in a handful of glassblowing competitions and was the first pregnant woman to compete in the CHAMPS Masters. I have also had the pleasure of being featured in several industry magazines. Most recently, I had the pleasure of doing a live glass demo at my favorite tradeshow Glass Vegas.!

What’s integral to the work of an artist?

Photo: Doug Baldwin

I think for an artist to balance the ideals of their work with a humble attitude. I see ego disrupting the potency of creative people all the time, and while they may have successful careers, their work misses the mark in serving their community. The job of an artist is to comment and reflect on society and give people the opportunity to have good conversations. Also, by creating emotional reactions and telling stories, but only if we stay humble in the face of the pressure to make money and gain clout.

What do you want to convey to the industry?

The industry is currently standing on the backs of imprisoned, black, indigenous people of color (BIPOC) while privileged members of the community make a lot of money on cannabis. It is vital that the industry turns its eye to the victims of the drug war. It is also imperative that we operate with integrity with our ecosystems. If the industry and, more than that, our whole human family is going to be successful, we must restore balance and justice with our relatives and environment. I sincerely hope that people will draw on the power of ritual, especially with cannabis to fortify them for the work ahead.

 

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