by JENNIFER FRAKES | photos by Alicia Jeanne Photography

Colorful Inspiration

artist_maddy6 artist_maddy4artist_maddy5For Rina Fehrensen and Michael Maddy, partner owners of Mad Art Studios, there is nothing more amazing than creating pieces of art from glass. “Putting colors together, watching them melt and transform… the process of glassblowing itself is inspirational. After you blow a piece of glass you have to put it in a special annealing oven to cool slowly overnight. Because the piece is hot, you can’t tell what the colors are until the next day,” said Michael, adding that Rina is particularly addicted to the feeling of opening the annealing oven and seeing what awaits her.

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Names: Rina Fehrensen and Michael Maddy
Profession: Glassblowers and partner owners of Mad Art Studios
Community: Vista


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artist_maddy3Michael was studying biology at Humboldt State when he took a ceramics class and was hooked. Rina studied visual arts at University of California San Diego and saw glassblowers during a trip to Murano, Italy. “Glassblowing looked like a magical art form. I wrote in my journal while in Venice that I was going to return to San Diego and learn how to do it,” stated Rina.

Rina and Michael both grew up in the San Diego area and have lived in Vista since 1992. They met at Palomar College, which at the time was the only place in San Diego to learn glassblowing. “Back then, the art department at Palomar College was open 24/7. We were both night owls, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to be on campus way past midnight working on our art. We chose to settle in Vista because it was close to Palomar and was still fairly rural when we bought our house,” revealed Rina, who in her spare time enjoys growing flowers.

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artist_maddy8These two artists are happy sharing their passion for glassblowing with young people. Last summer, they participated in Vista’s Alley Art Festival, an event that Rina described as quirky and fun. According to Michael, two high school interns helped them make glass artwork, which they sold at the event. “Part of the proceeds will help fund a scholarship for a Palomar glassblowing student to attend the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, WA. We’ll be participating in the Vista Alley Art Festival again this year to continue our fundraising to help that student,” said Michael. Both he and Rina encourage all those who are interested to visit www.vistaart.org for more information about the 2017 Vista Alley Art Show, which is scheduled for Sept. 3.