Mary Lynn Benz

Glass fusion

Mary Lynn came from a military background – her father served for many years with the Canadian Armed Forces – and she and her family lived in many army camps across Canada. She also lived in Switzerland with her husband.

Mary Lynn went on to teach elementary school, and English as a 2 nd language, before obtaining a degree in Environmental Studies, and eventually put that to use working at AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada) in Environmental Research for many years before retiring.

We are shaped by our pasts and Mary Lynn has a love of the outdoors – shaped by the fact that in those years of army camps and Environmental Research, she was always close to nature and the bush. As she says – this has influenced my artistic endeavours – often, my subjects are animals,
plants, trees and scenery etc.

In the Deep River area, and with the Valley Artisans’ Co-Op, I have a tremendous opportunity to pursue an art form called GLASS FUSION.

Glass fusion work is a few thousands of years old, and intricate works have been documented since approximately 1500 B.C. – from functional items such as bowls, to beautiful jewelry and wall tiles.  Glass blowing seems to have dwarfed the works of glass fusion artists for hundreds of years, but fusion work is now enjoying a “rebirth” of a sorts.

Any type of glass can be fused, and today there are many beautiful colours of specialty, fusion glass with good, predictable qualities. I work with glass, glass stringers, glass frit and glass powders.  Possible designs and patterns are limited only by the imagination.  I love the possibility of making a variety of functional  items – bowls, dishes, platters etc. as well as wall and window hangings.  When a design and colours are determined and the glass is cut, the work goes into a kiln similar to a potter’s kiln, and the work is fired to 1300 – 2500 ℉ to melt the glass and fuse it together.  The colours and designs are permanent.  They also have softer lines that are delightfully smooth to the eye and the touch.  One feels compelled to run their fingers over the glass.

Glass fusion, for me, will be a lifetime of trying new designs, techniques, temperatures and colour combinations.  Custom work and requests offer a focus for this pursuit – Contact me!

I am constantly trying to learn different aspects of glasswork.  Besides learning from books myself,  courses taken to date include:

2007    Advanced Fused Bowl and Design Elements (course given by Patty Gray of the U.S.  – one of the”gurus” of the fusion world for over 40 years)

2008    Mosaics, Tryptych work, pattern bars, combing, pot melts, cold work (i.e. polishing), pyramids, bas relief (given by Patty Gray)

2008    Dichroic Jewelry (given by Katrina Covello)

2008    Faceted Dichroic Sculpture, working with optical quality lead glass (course given by Kent Lauer – who has worked on making faceted glass items for films, commercials etc. for over 40 years in California)

2010    Frit Casting (given by Jane Persico of the U.S.)

2012    Create More Realistic Fused Glass Pictures (given by Janet Schrader, U.S.)

2012    Triage for Your Firing Schedules (given by Lisa-Richardson-Bach, U.S.)

2012    Verre Eglomise (given by Peggy Pettigrew-Stewart, U.S.)

2015    Kiln-Formed Glass with Powders – wafer “cookies”, lino-cut monoprints, Dremel Tool work, freeze and fuse moulds from silicone etc.  (course given by Bob Leatherbarrow – from Salt Spring Island, B.C.)

I have also entered the following Juried Shows:

2003    Valley Arts Council Juried Art Show – and won first and second prizes in 2 categories

2003    Glass Art Association of Canada (Toronto) – Fabled Footwear Glass Slipper Exhibition – had my entry (among many others) chosen to be placed in the window of the Bata Shoe Museum on display

2005    Juried Multi-Media Art Show and Sale – Library Arts Committee and won first and third prizes in 2 categories


I have designed and prepared the awards for several years for the local  Silver Spoon Ski Race, some orienteering competitions and also a few times for the Rotary Club’s annual Community Service Awards.

Contact Mary Lynn

Sara Carlisle

Glass objects & Lampwork Beads

Sara Carlisle, born in the United Kingdom in 1958, travels between her home in Deep River, Ontario, Canada, and Sheridan College in Oakville, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Craft and Design: Glass.  

Sara’s interest in art is long-standing. She has been a member of The Valley Artisans’ Co-op in Deep River since 1996. She has given several workshops on multi-media art in the local public school, and one-on-one classes in lampworked bead making. While her earlier work focused predominantly on landscapes in ink and crayon, and botanical watercolour (exhibited in Toronto at Canada Blooms (2003) and in New York at the 7th Annual International Juried Botanical Art Exhibition (2004)), she has more recently developed an interest in glass art.  For several years now, she has created hand-made lampworked beads in her Deep River basement studio, but in addition, in 2017 she went back to school to learn to be a glass blower. 

Sara designs and makes jewelry incorporating her own lampwork beads, semi-precious stones, sterling silver, and a variety of other glass, stone and shell beads, which she sells at the Co-op and at local markets and craft shows.  She has exhibited her work at several local group exhibitions in Deep River, Ontario. Her blown glass work – paperweights, small sculptural pieces and drinking glasses – is now starting to make occasional appearances at the Co-op.

Contact Sara