A Wrangell artist who creates fused glass artwork and jewelry has been a fixture at community markets and bazaars in town. But this December, Magpie and Squid owner Kris Reed decided to open a store for just one month to sell her artwork and teach art classes.
The front room of the Magpie and Squid shop is full of shiny, colorful artwork made of fused glass: decorative plates, jewelry, fancy nightlights, picture frames and embellished serving utensils.
Women arrive at the shop and go into the back room, which is where they will create their own artwork at a class taught by shop owner and artist Kris Reed.
“We have classes on how to do lanyards and reader keepers,” Reed said. “The other things are a scarf necklace, which is a number of strands of beads that tie kind of like a scarf and have a number of different ways that you can wear it. And then one of the fun ones is wire wrapping utensils, so it fancies them up for the dinner table and when you’re having guests. And then we also have one that’s a multimedia frame, so that you can decorate one side of it and have the other side for your picture.”
“Today I’m working on a wire-wrapped cake server,” said class participant Vickie Buness-Taylor. “And I’ve made several things from the last class. This is actually the second time I’m taking the class. And today I’m making something for me. The others were gifts.”
Buness-Taylor said Reed makes it easy for class participants to create beautiful art, and she enjoys having the space to work in a group.
“I pretty much rented a space now, and I plan to be here anytime the shop is open,” Buness-Taylor said.
She said more people should try the classes even if they do not think they would be successful.
“We’ve just had such a great time. And everybody from a couple of young girls to people like myself, some with experience, some without any experience, and seriously everything has turned out wonderful,” Buness-Taylor said. “People have been really proud of their projects.”
Reed said she thought it would be fun to open a store just for the month of December, and she has loved the experience so far.
“Just being able to put everything in the space and leave it for a whole month was, for me, a little bit euphoric. Because I’m so tired of packing glass in and out, in and out,” Reed said. “So it’s been fun to have the store, but even more fun has been the classes and having people come down and just visit and work. I guess ‘play’ would be a better term for it.”
Reed said she has been trying glass art for a really long time.
“My dad did stained glass, so growing up I always kept trying it. And it was really frustrating for me because I don’t have the patience to cut the really fine tolerances that are required for stained glass.”
She said about two years ago, she took a class in fused glass.
“Since then I’ve been hooked. It’s been wonderful,” Reed said. “So I can play with the glass and actually do something that looks nice, and it takes a fraction of the time for me to complete that kind of glass than it does to do a stained glass piece.”
Ruth Stough was picking out beads and glass pieces to decorate a set of salad servers. She had also helped Reed secure the space for the shop.
“I did. Because I was being a little selfish. I wanted her to be here so I could take the class,” Stough said. “And I think for a community this is just such a special thing to have, for people to be able to come and take classes, and just something different and something to do in the wintertime.”
Reed said having the shop has spurred conversations about the possibility of starting an artists’ cooperative.
“I would love to do this again next year. I would love to do it all summer, too,” Reed said. “And I don’t know if that’s a possibility, or not, but there are a few of us who are maybe starting to lean that direction. If there was a space available, we’d really like to have a spot where visitors can come through and really look at what the Wrangell crowd is doing in terms of art.”
She said there are many different types of artists in Wrangell, and it would be fun to have a way to support all the talent in the community.
Magpie and Squid is in the Kadin building on Front Street until Christmas.