Glass Fish Forms

  • By: Bob White
red fighlight frr.jpg

I think of fish as jewels, so it’s not surprising that I’m attracted to the glasswork of Kerry Transtrum. His use of the fish motif in his glass sconces is one of the most compelling treatments of this organic shape I have ever seen.

Based in Salt Lake City, Kerry began his artistic journey in 1988 when he was introduced to stained glass, and he remembers being immediately entranced with the shadows of color that spill forth from this traditional medium. A workshop exposed him to the process of fusing and casting glass that he employs today. He has also twice been accepted to study at the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School, in Stanwood, WA, as well as the

Bullseye and Uroboros art glass factories in Portland, OR.
He describes his chosen medium as beautiful and mesmerizing, one that possesses a seductive and elegant quality while remaining finicky, unpredictable and quite unforgiving. “Glass makes an extraordinarily strong statement,” he says. “Yet, it can be as fragile as the living form it represents.” Such as fish.

To give color and bring life to his ideas, Kerry uses glass of various forms, from bricks to powder. In the case of his kiln-formed fish, powdered glass is sifted in a painterly manner onto sheet glass, which is fired in a kiln where the colors fuse, and then cool. The colored sheet is given its final form in an additional firing where it is reborn in the shape of a fish.

Why fish? He says that fish are interesting creatures, and glass effectively conveys their shape and colors. The fish motif provides him with the means to record and share important moments from his past: With every fish light he constructs, Kerry relives memories of the streams he fished on his grandfather’s ranch in Idaho, or times shared with his father, fishing for salmon on the Snake River. “They were good times for me, and I want to share those moments through my work.” ■

Contact Kerry Transtrum at or (801) 698-1069. Contributing editor Bob White is a writer and artist; go to