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Painting With Glass

Linda Mason makes beads using an oxygen propane torch and a glass rod. She describes it as “painting with glass.”
Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Linda Mason makes beads using an oxygen propane torch and a glass rod. She describes it as “painting with glass.” Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

It is doubtful one will ever meet a more creative being than Linda Larsen Mason of Warren, Pa. If she can dream it, she can create it. Her creations range from wearable art to pet memorials to paintings to yarn spun from pet hair to weavings to handmade glass beads to more.

Having an amazing memory that goes back to when she was a very young child, she remembers always being artistically inclined, but never having formal schooling. She has taken several lessons throughout her lifetime beginning when she was a teenager, but always taught by private individuals.

At one point her friend, Carla, was developing a class for drawing on the right side of the brain and asked her to participate.

“I was a guinea pig for this class. The drawing methods she taught were very, very helpful to me,” Mason says. “It’s been an evolution. My work evolves. I went from drawing and pastel painting to piecing and designing clothing and crocheting antique patterns to embroidering.”

Another time, her daughter wanted to try spinning fiber after seeing a 4-H group use spinning wheels. A spinning wheel was purchased and mother and daughter began to spin. Mason taught herself the art of felting and began making unique bags.

Handmade glass beads.

Handmade glass beads.

“I designed the leather around the bag and made some hats,” she says. “I made my own hat patterns. I’d really love to have a clothing line. I’ve done one-of-a-kind pieces.”

The desire for Mason to learn more types of artwork, be it through classes or self-teaching, continued.

“I took some stained glass classes and then found a little torch in a stained glass magazine, ordered it and taught myself to make beads at my kitchen table,” she says. “I started doing shows, incorporating the fiber arts, stained glass and glass bead jewelry.”

Today she works with stained glass when she is inspired and has taken classes from Dick Nelson.

“The beads are kind of like painting with glass. They are my own style. I’ve not taken any classes, so I’m not emulating a teacher. I consider my art wearable art,” Mason said.

The inspiration for this picture of Conan the Barbarian was taken from the cover of a comic book. It was hand-embroidered without a pattern.

The inspiration for this picture of Conan the Barbarian was taken from the cover of a comic book. It was hand-embroidered without a pattern.

The process used to make the beads is quite intricate.

“The glass is melted with the torch as it is formed around a mandrel which creates the hole in the bead,” Mason says. “Using different colored glass rods and applying to the molten bead and then manipulating the molten glass creates the patterns, like painting with glass. I have taken a couple of intensive week-long classes at Corning Museum for murrine or glass pictures. History and my heritage inspire me, (as well as) nature. My motto is ‘connected by an ancient calling that echoes through the ages.’ Beads are something that has happened since the beginning of mankind, whether they be from bones or clay. Man has been ornamenting himself since the beginning of time. They were used for currency and status.”

Because Mason likes history, it is important that her pieces have meaning. She is a self-taught weaver. She converts words and phrases into numbers through mathematical codes to make weaving patterns. These can be found on her woven bags, cuffs, belts and purses. She has, also, taken a blacksmithing class and does cold metal work having put ancient tattoos and designs on some of her pieces.

“I wanted to be an archeologist, but didn’t have a chance to so I incorporate these into my work,” Mason said.

Interestingly, she has come up with some ways of memorializing pets in her designs. Her leather pet memorial cuffs, which are worn on the wrist, consist of a handmade glass bead that holds the ashes and the pet’s license tag. The memorial beads could be made into any type of jewelry. She puts cremains or lavender inside spent gun shells that have been etched with patterns. A handmade glass tip is added to each one. Another way for the owner to remember their pet and to have something to hold on to, is to have its hair spun into yarn, another service provided by Mason.

Linda Mason’s display of a painting, wearable jewelry and a felted hat.

Linda Mason’s display of a painting, wearable jewelry and a felted hat.

Possibly the most amazing of her projects are the “paintings” done with embroidery floss and a needle. The projects are done without patterns, but by looking at a picture and deciding which color floss to use in each stitch to create the artwork. The perfect shading in the face of Conan the Barbarian on the back of her husband’s denim jacket is one example of the amount of skill and eye she has for this kind of art. Due to the number of hours it takes to create, the hand-embroidered projects are not for sale.

She became interested in cooking while watching her Scandinavian grandmother cook and bake until that grandmother moved away.

“Every Christmas and holiday we spent with my other grandmother. The relatives would bring in great food and my great aunt and uncle were very good cooks. He had worked for Ecklof’s Bakery,” Mason said. “The Black Bottom cupcake recipe was a recipe my mother found. They are really delicious and don’t need frosting. For the Scandinavian Rolls, I remember my grandmother, a big woman, holding the bowl and whisking it around. She always wore an apron. I think the recipe came from Denmark. There is no kneading. They are the simplest things to make and versatile. I have put all kinds of fillings in them in the past-a cinnamon and cream cheese filling and fruit jellies (are among these).”

The couple “really liked” a Caprese Salad they tried in a restaurant. Her husband, Kim, modified a recipe he found online.

Various collections are displayed here and there throughout her home. A rock collection is found across the room from two varieties of china hand groupings, some stand with fingers up/wrist down and some are Queen Victoria hands, which are two open hands side by side trimmed with a grape leaf. Small, unusual or antique covered boxes and tins and a few trunks round out the collections. The artist has a medical secretary degree, but worked as a podiatric medical assistant. Her memberships include Chautauqua County Society of Artists, Chautauqua County Weavers Guild, The Porcelain Dolls and Hilltop Spinners.

Scandinavian Roll, Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction and Black Bottom Cupcakes

Scandinavian Roll, Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction and Black Bottom Cupcakes

At his wife’s request, Kim Mason is in the process of building her a gypsy-style wagon to use as a camper.

The couple has a daughter, Morya. Their dog, Luna, is a mixture of American Eskimo, Golden Retriever, Yellow Lab and Red Bone Coonhound and actually howls. “She is very vocal,” Mason says.

To see some of Linda Mason Designs work and a schedule of the shows in which she will be participating, go to her website at www.lindamasondesigns.com. Contact her at klmmason@verizon.net.

Caprese Salad with

Balsamic Reduction

Reduction Sauce

1 c balsamic vinegar

1/4 c honey

Stir vinegar and honey together in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until vinegar mixture has reduced to 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Salad

10 or more Campari cocktail tomatoes

8 oz mozzarella cheese pearls

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 c fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/4 c olive oil

basil leaves for garnish

Cut tomatoes into quarters. Mix all salad ingredients. Separate into individual serving dishes. Drizzle reduction sauce over each serving. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Filling

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1/8 tsp salt

1/3 c sugar

6 oz chocolate chips

Cream together cream cheese, salt and sugar. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.

Cake

1 1/2 c flour

1 c sugar

1 tsp soda

¢ tsp salt

1/4 c cocoa

1 c water

1/3 c oil

1 T vinegar

1 tsp vanilla

Stir together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Gradually add wet ingredients while stirring or mixing on low speed with electric mixer. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Fill the bottom of each with a bit of the batter. Place a dollop of filling on top of the batter and drizzle batter on top of filling. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done. Makes 12 or more cupcakes.

Scandinavian Rolls

1 c milk

1 packet yeast

1/4 warm water

3 eggs

Scald milk. Set aside to cool. Dissolve yeast in water. Combine milk, yeast mixture and eggs in mixing bowl. Set aside.

4 c flour

1/4 c sugar

1 tsp salt

1 c butter

Combine flour, sugar and salt in large mixing bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork, until crumbly. Add milk mixture and combine. Refrigerate overnight. Roll dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Spread with soft butter. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over butter. Roll lengthwise. Slice into 2-3” slices. Place in a greased 13″x 9″ cake pan, cut side up. Cover and let rise one hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done. May fill with fillings of choice.

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