Sally Van Der Kamp transforms scraps of glass into fine art
You can find art all over town -- not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
When you buy glasswork from artist Sally Van Der Kamp, who works mostly with stained glass and mosaics, you're getting much more than an affordable and unique conversation piece: You're getting a tiny bit of history that'll brighten your home and maybe even warm your heart.
One of the most interesting components of her art is Depression glass. "Oh, you're probably not old enough to know about that," the soft-spoken Van Der Kamp tells me.
"Depression glass was popular back in the '30s," she explains, offering a brief lesson on the inexpensive and colorful glass that folks got when they bought "food, jellies, and other things" during the Depression era. "All of the grandmothers collected or had it because it was something pretty or cheerful they could afford in that day," says Van Der Kamp.
Feeling inspired, Van Der Kamp did a series called "Grandma's China Cupboard" that used Depression glass to embellish china plates. She dedicated the series to "grandmothers everywhere" -- but notes that the materials in the pieces weren't actually from her own grandmother's cupboard: "I wouldn't give that up," she says.
Instead, for works like the sunset-shaded "Normandie" (above), Van Der Kamp scoured antique stores for Depression glass, adding color and character to ordinary plates.
Van Der Kamp is another second-career artist who used her bachelors in Applied Art indirectly in her first career, working at a frame shop and gallery in Tennessee before transitioning to the full-time gig of child-rearing -- a job from which she's recently retired ."I was lucky to stay home with my daughter," she says. "The best part of my life is over, so now I have a lot more time to devote to art."
Van Der Kamp describes her stained glass work as "a hobby that got out of control." Drawn to geometric lines and shapes over the more ornate and feminine, she says she loves the way pieces and parts come together like puzzles when she's manipulating glass.
Stained glass eventually evolved into mosaics, and Van Der Kamp devoted a period of her life to mosaic garden stones. "My Sister's Garden" (shown above, and still a work in progress) is Van Der Kamp's latest and most heartfelt mosaic series -- made in honor of her sister, who passed away last year. "She was a big inspiration and one of my best fans," says Van Der Kamp.
The series will probably make its debut next month at a show at Parkview Congregational Church in Aurora, Van Der Kamp says.
Keep reading for more on Sally Van Der Kamp.