About The Artist
My name is Laurie Freivogel and Kiku Handmade is my glass studio located just outside Chicago, Illinois. While I've been creating ever since I can remember, I only started fusing glass in 2004. My love of glass started when I bought a fused glass pendant at an art fair – it was the first time I had ever noticed fused glass. I was totally drawn in by the texture, the molten-liquid-turned-solid moment, the transparency of the vibrant turquoise balanced with the organic, opaque red inclusion. After our daughter was born in 2001, I quit my full time job at a computer consultancy to stay home with our two kids (number 1 son was born in 1998). Very soon I found myself going crazy as an at-home mom with an art background and nothing to make. In the spring of 2004, I discovered the indie craft movement that was growing in Chicago and had an epiphany: glass. I bought myself a small kiln, some books and glass, set up a studio in my basement and started experimenting. Soon enough, I was creating humdrum pendants, earrings and pins that were lovely, but unfulfilling. I needed a new direction.
My BFA is in drawing, and it was at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design that I fell in love with printmaking. Not having access to a printmaking studio after college, I had to satisfy my creativity with things I could make in a small apartment - mostly hand bound books, small drawings and paintings - until we moved to Oak Park and I had room for a proper studio. About a year after I learned the basics of glass fusing, I realized what I had been pining for – imagery and pattern. I had a small silkscreening setup in my studio already that I used mostly for fabric and thought maybe I could use it to incorporate my designs with the glass.
I spent months researching and experimenting with materials and techniques until I figured out what worked. I knew I had found my niche and began working on the designs that give Kiku it’s distinctive style. My imagery and drawings are primarily inspired by pop culture, pattern and nature. I particularly love mid-century modern and Japanese design aesthetics, in fact the name "Kiku" means "chrysanthemum" in Japanese. Using fine enamels, I print with multiple screens onto layers of glass to create depth and, using my knack for color and composition, pair it with an amazing glass color palette. One thing I especially love about the ability to print an image on glass is that it enables me to do a variety of custom work for my customers, which has become a specialty of mine. I approach the design of each new piece, whether my own image or a custom design, looking to strike a visual balance between the graphic printed image and the nature of glass: color, translucence, light and depth- the qualities that originally called me to the medium. While my work is very graphic, I'm a practical girl so most of my pieces are as functional as they are pretty.
When time allows from my busy production schedule, I experiment with pushing the boundaries of glass. One thing I love about the medium is that you can do so much with it. I learn from fellow kiln formed glass artists, some of whom are creating delicate, coral-like, 2-sided colorful structures, to others using weight and compressing the glass into itself, or even others who are dripping it from a height at 1700 degrees to make new glass. I am always in awe of how humble experimentation can make a person, and learning (and failing) makes me a better artist. When I'm not making glass, you might find me sewing, knitting, or hanging with one of our many, many pets. Outside of home I love roller skating paddle boarding, swimming, travel, and food - from fine dining to street carts. I have two kids in college who are way smarter than I am, and a husband of over 25 years who still keeps me laughing.