My name is Laurie Freivogel and Kiku Handmade is my glass studio located just outside Chicago, Illinois. While I've been creating ever since I can remember, glass fusing is relatively new to me. My love of glass started when I bought a fused glass pendant at an art fair – it was the first time I had ever noticed fused glass. I was totally drawn in by the texture, the molten-liquid-turned-solid moment, the transparency of the vibrant turquoise balanced with the organic, opaque red inclusion. After our daughter was born in 2001, I quit my full time job at a computer consultancy to stay home with our two kids. Very soon I found myself going crazy as an at-home mom with an art background and nothing to make. In the spring of 2004, I discovered the indie craft movement that was growing in Chicago and had an epiphany: glass. I bought myself a small kiln, some books and glass, set up a studio in my basement and started experimenting. Soon enough, I was creating humdrum pendants, earrings and pins that were lovely, but unfulfilling. I needed a new direction.
My BFA is in drawing, and it was at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design that I fell in love with printmaking. Not having access to a printmaking studio after college, I had to satisfy my creativity with things I could make in a small apartment - mostly hand bound books, small drawings and paintings - until we moved to Oak Park and I had room for a proper studio. About a year after I learned the basics of glass fusing, I realized what I had been pining for – imagery and pattern. I had a small silkscreening setup in my studio already that I used mostly for fabric and thought maybe I could use it to incorporate my designs with the glass.
I spent weeks researching and experimenting with materials and techniques until I figured out what worked. I knew I had found my niche and began working on the designs that give Kiku it’s distinctive style. My imagery and drawings are primarily inspired by pop culture, pattern and nature. I particularly love mid-century modern and Japanese design aesthetics, in fact the name "Kiku" means "chrysanthemum" in Japanese. Using fine enamels, I print with multiple screens onto layers of glass to create depth and, using my knack for color and composition, pair it with an amazing glass color palette. One thing I especially love about the ability to print an image on glass is that it enables me to do a variety of custom work for my customers, which has become a specialty of mine. I approach the design of each new piece, whether my own image or a custom design, looking to strike a visual balance between the graphic printed image and the nature of glass: color, translucence, light and depth- the qualities that originally called me to the medium. While my work is very graphic, I'm a practical girl so most of my pieces are as functional as they are pretty.
When I'm not in my glass studio, you might find me sewing, knitting, creating with our kids, or roller skating with Derby Lite.