Local artists featured in ‘The Flow’

Catch a glimpse into the workspaces of Laura Arns and Mike Mumford in next weekend’s Open Studio Tour

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Local artists featured in ‘The Flow’Collaborative artists Mike Mumford and Laura Arns have been featured in this season’s edition of The Flow Magazine — the leading international journal that connects artists within the lampworking industry.

The duo’s glass-and-steel creation was featured in the magazine’s gallery of collaborative art.

“I am definitely honored that our piece was selected,” said Arns, who works primarily with glass.

As a subscriber who sees the featured section each month, Arns said she knew their creation was competitive. “However, I was very surprised when I later learned that they had selected only eight collaborative pairs of artists to feature in this issue, and we were one of them!”

“It is always an honor to be selected for something like this,” said Mumford, who works in steel. “It’s seeing one’s work in the company of one’s peers that makes it special. While I don’t know these other glass artists, I see and like their work — and am happy to be considered worthy by comparison.”

Both are prominent artists with a devoted following and manage to bridge the gap between their respective media to create unique and beautiful work.

Arns stumbled into her craft by accident, she said. “My mom has done stained-glass work for years. One day we were in a new place and saw what we thought was a stained-glass store, so we stopped to check it out.

“It turned out to be a hot-glass workshop, and there was a class going on so we stayed to watch. We were instantly hooked.”

Mumford took up blacksmithing after retiring from China Lake. When his wife had an opportunity to take a lace-making class in North Carolina, he decided to sign up for a blacksmith course the same week.

“I got hooked and have been working in the craft every since.”

Both stay connected with other artists in their respective fields, which is partly how their feature in The Flow came about.

Arns was at a conference in Las Vegas, where she was learning about innovative new shapes. After a little brainstorming, Mumford was able to create a frame that Arns could fill with her glass.

The process is “both exciting and frustrating,” said Mumford, who acknowledged that their crafts demand different workspaces that prevent side-by-side development.

“We occasionally see each other working, and it’s tempting to want to learn the other’s processes,” he said. “but we need to respect the integrity of each other’s knowledge and skills.”

“There is a lot of learning involved, about how the other person’s process works, and what are the limitations of their craft,” said Arns. Many times one will have to adapt to compensate for something that does not work in the other’s medium. Then there is the trial-and-error process that is generally tested through small-scale prototypes.

“But I love to learn new things, so I don’t really think of that as a negative at all! Plus we get to do things that neither of us could do alone, and very few other people in the world can do at all, and I get exposed to lots of new and different ideas that I would never dream of by myself.”

“Each of us thinks differently, which makes for a fun and exciting fusion of ideas,” agreed Mumford. “To use a 1960s phrase — it is mind-expanding. Probably from a time before Laura was born, but part of my history.”

Both draw inspiration and ideas from other people. “Someone will ask me, ‘Hey, can you make this?’ Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t,” said Arns. “And sometimes the answer is ‘I can’t make exactly that, but it gives me a great idea for this other thing!’”

Since inspiration can come from anywhere, Mumford said, it’s important to stay alert and connected. “Sometimes people send me ideas, and often I see ideas that emerge from other people’s works.”

For those who want to see more from Mumford and Arns — as well as a host of other local artists — a peek into their workspaces will be offered Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22, in the Maturango Museum’s annual Open Studio Tour.

For a $10 contribution, each visitor will receive a map to the locations of studios and workshops for dozens of participating artists. Examples of their work will also be on display at the museum gallery through Oct. 27.

Unfortunately, the lamp is no longer available. It has been delivered and installed in an art collector’s private home.

“It is immensely satisfying to me when people ‘vote’ for my work by laying down hard-earned cash to purchase it,” said Mumford, who said it would be impossible to choose a favorite work.

“I have about four to five personal favorites, and they are all either in my home or in the homes of friends,” said Arns. “Most of them are special because they are related to special events in my personal life, like the scuba-inspired sculptures. Others are special because they are collaborative pieces and they remind me of the fun times I’ve spent working on them with other people.”

For more information about the Open Studio Tour, see maturango.org or call 760-375-6900.

Pictured: Mumford and Arns lamp

Story First Published: 2017-10-13