Midtown: Community

Wake Forest glass artist channels daughter’s light

The tools of Lauren Petrosky’s art are sharp-edged and potentially lethal – she breaks glass into sharp shards with the blunt end of a hatchet – but her inspiration is sweet.

The birth of her daughter, Lily, three years ago made the world glow in a way she’s been trying to share through her glasswork ever since.

“Music started to sound sweeter and everything became a brighter place,” Petrosky said. “She’s not hindered by negative aspects of the world right now – she sees the world in such a positive light.”

Petrosky uses all recycled materials, from glass bottles to old quilts, to make her mosaics, swirls of fragmented color that often coalesce into seaside scenes framed in old window casings or barn wood.

Petrosky will be at Sunflower Studios in Wake Forest for an artist’s reception at Friday’s Art After Hours event. It’s her first solo show.

Gallery manager Gayle Blackerby discovered the young artist when Petrosky happened to mention she did glasswork while touring the gallery. Blackerby insisted on seeing some of the work Petrosky was carrying in her car. Out of the trunk, from among shards of sharp, shattered glass, Petrosky pulled piece after piece, framed in windows and old barn wood, of “eclectic, funky” glass creations that looked like a cross between stained glass windows and swirling water, frozen in time, Blackerby said.

“The colors just come to life,” she said.

Petrosky has honed her skills through trial and error in her garage studio for the past year and a half. Of course, errors in glassworking can be ouch-worthy. Even with experience, myriad knicks and scratches are badges of the trade.

“I’m very fortunate I haven’t been to the ER yet,” Petrosky said. “But the longer I work with it, the more I come in harmony with the glass.”

Petrosky dubbed her studio River Swirl Creations, with work sold in stores and galleries from Sanford to Wake Forest. The best part about glasswork, she says, is the way a piece changes with the day, starting soft in the early-morning light, colors intensifying with the bright afternoon sun.

And the light she learns from Lily is something she’s hoping to give back to her daughter. The 3-year-old just helped make her first piece with beads and seashells and scraps of fabric. It’s heavy and crowded with color. It hangs in the little girl’s room now, a permanent fixture as her mom continues to create work to honor her inner light.