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Cornelia Altdorfer

Conny-Altdorfer

Born and raised in East Germany, art was just about the furthest thing from my mind for most of my younger years. But in my career in social work, when I helped to raise and support troubled children and adolescents in a group home, it did not take long before I discovered how art could help to tame the impulses of my charges. The media we used were diverse: wood, paper, paint, and we even employed natural and common materials like shells, sea glass, bottle caps, and the like to make mosaic decorations around the living quarters. I continued to work in that position for several years, before starting a new chapter when I moved to the United States in 2002.

My entrée to the world of art glass began in Pittsburgh in 2006, actually in a class on mosaics using glass tiles and stained glass. Ironically, it was here that I was reminded about the important role that German glass manufacturers such as Lamberts have played in the development of art glass, even as I learned that Pittsburgh was once a great center of glass manufacturing.

Most of the glass I use in my art is sourced in the United States, which is so rich in offering a diverse palette of characteristics from its glass producers. But whenever I travel to Europe, I stock up on antique glass, hand-blown glass and especially jewels made in Germany to spice up my own work.

My Work

For fusible glass, which comprises about 50% of my work today, I like to use 96 COE glass, which gives me compatibility and the widest range of options across manufacturers (Uroboros, Spectrum, and Wissmach). My work ranges from small ornaments, utilitarian pieces (like trivets or plates), to larger pieces of wall art.

For stained glass, I like to use the translucent and textured glass of most any manufacturer to create panels designed for hanging in windows or other open spaces that harness natural light and reflect it into your living spaces.

I still do mosaics as well, several examples of which you can see on this website. From your house number, to a birdbath made using galvanized pipe, to mirrors whose frames are given new life and color, I am happy to produce a made-to-order custom mosaic piece like one of these for you, or just about anything else you may imagine!

My Inspirations

Sometimes just holding up a piece of art glass, or even just a shard of glass, and watching the play of light through its intricate texture or stunning color, is enough to make my day. What particularly fascinates me about this is how the light and its reflection through the glass draws me into it, and how I can create results that look so different from one piece to the next simply by varying the colors I choose to complete a pattern.

While color has always been my muse, I am also inspired by sleek design. Just as I admire the earthy tones that Frank Lloyd Wright employed in his architecture to connect it to its environment, I am as intrigued by the clean lines of his “prairie style” as I am to the geometric shapes that characterize the Bauhaus movement of the 1920s and early 30s.