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Michael Kraatz & Susan Russell

Kraatz & Russell is a full time, two-person, hot and cold working glass studio that has been in operation since 1975. Our studio and home are in the New Hampshire country about two miles from the village of Canaan. We are surrounded by pasture and hay fields. Across the valley we see woods, hills, and the far mountains. The sky dominates our landscape. It is impossible to separate how we work from where we live. Hot glass fascinates both of us. It is immediate, fast, and always changing. Laws of physics have a lot to do with the process of blowing and forming glass. Experimentation that stretches those laws while pursuing an idea is a constant challenge. Sometimes magic happens. The Silver Series in red and black glass is our most recent work. Michael makes each piece of our Silver Series glass entirely by hand. Each piece begins with the creation of an image that is carefully composed with colored shards, bits, lines, and silver or gold foil arranged on a hot steel plate. While creating the image for a bowl or vase, Michael considers how the relationship of lines, shapes, and colors reflect a sense of harmony and humor. The various elements are then picked up on the last gather of molten glass. Then the blowing and shaping begins to form the piece. Glassblowing is a rapid-fire series of situations each of which has its own set of demands. An unexpected overlapping here, or a wrinkle of glass there, is an aspect of working with glass that we accept and enjoy. The gathers and layers are integral to the form and give a sense of motion within each hand blown bowl and vase. Susan designs and fabricates architectural glasswork using our blown and cast glass. Each provides variations of our imagery using traditional leaded glass techniques. The blown glass uses Silver Series pictures and colors while the Signature cast glass conveys our patterns on 3/8” thick crystal. Landscapes and the geometric patterns of quilts and rugs are the inspiration for these pieces. The cast glass plays with transmitted and reflected light to dramatize, while providing a sense of privacy and the quality of the hand blown glass. The lines of the lead contribute a sense of structure and formality. Each piece is conceived with artful consideration of its place in the environment and with the unique vision of the designer and the client. We have installations in private homes as well as in public spaces, including, hospitals, offices, and schools. Michael studied hot glass with Harvey Littleton at the University of Wisconsin and received his graduate degree from the Rhode Island School of design. Susan has a BFA in design from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MA from Goddard College. See