Katarzyna Karbownik graduated with honors in 1998 from the Glass and Ceramics Department of the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw, Poland, where she studied under Professor Ludwik Kiczura.
Karbownik, who lived and works in Poland, began sculpting in solid glass, but the challenges and limitations of carving and polishing large pieces let her to explore the technique of glass fusion. An ancient technique that can be traced back to the Egyptians, circa 2000 BCE, fusing involves stackign or layering thin sheets of glass, often using different colors and patterns. The stack is placed inside a kiln and heated gradually to very high temperatures (1100-1500 degrees), until all layers bond together. Cooling is as critical as heating and the cooling process is deliberately slow, taking ten to twelve hours. a piece usually takes at least two firings, one or more to fuse the glass, the next to shape it.
Fusing glass enabled Karbownik to realize her artistic vision, resulting in a series of sculptural glass dresses and tasseled corsets which are suspended from hand-crafted steel clothes hangers. The curves and shape of each piece suggests the form of the female figure and captures the look of an actual garment. Shards of glass, joined in the melting process, have softened edges with create a varied and pleasing texture. Some pieces have smooth surfaces wich are decoratively etched and swirled with color, featuring varied motifs of flowers, leaves, graceful scrolls, and even a vintage unicycle. Poms of love and romance are often etched or painted onto the glass, enhancing the romatic theme and accomplishing Karbownik’s intention to celebrate the feminine.