You might not think mechanical engineering and art go hand-in-hand, but local artist Pat Haug has a passion for both. She started out with a mechanical engineering degree from University of Wisconsin–Madison before taking a hiatus to homeschool her children.
Back in the workforce for more than three years since opening Alchemy Arts Studio in Stillwater, where she teaches glass fusing, metal and clay, she says she knew the Valley would be the perfect place to teach this art form.
“This is such an artsy town with a lot of cool things to do,” Haug says. “Fused glass is a little bit more unusual, although it’s actually easier to do.” She grew up with stained glass, but Haug likes fusing more, because it mixes art and science with accessibility. Hobbyists can buy kilns to use at home (they’re even sold at Alchemy for between $700 and $4,000), and tools are fairly simple to use.
Artists start out learning how to layer the glass, using tools to cut and then fuse the layers together. This less-precise method, compared to building up stained glass, allows beginning artists to catch on quicker. “There’re so many more techniques than just layering,” Haug says. “You can work with glass powders, glass paints, enamels.”
Haug is focused on creating a relaxed environment for people to spend time with friends and family while exploring their own creativity and learning, even encouraging guests to “B.Y.O.B.” for the three-hour classes. “If something doesn’t turn out, we analyze that and see why it happened scientifically,” Haug says. “We best learn by experimenting, and sometimes things don’t come out as you think. But in testing you can expand that creative venue and create something totally new.”