A lifelong interest in the natural world’s colors, forms and textures influences Kate Rothra Fleming’s glass jewelry designs.
Background: Grew up in Miami, and as a child traveled around to remote areas of wild Florida with her father and mother, a nature writer. Fleming earned degrees from University of Florida and Rochester Institute of Technology.
She also studied photographic preservation/archival management at George Eastman Museum of Film and Photography. In between her studies, she served with the Peace Corps for two years in Botswana, and traveled extensively through Africa, India and Nepal.
Off and on over the years, she worked in photographic preservation and as a teacher in Rochester and Charleston, SC, before beginning her adventure in glass art, initially at the Charleston Farmers Market.
The business: Opened her studio in Charleston in 2000. The primarily self-taught jewelry artist now works out of her home, and has a second studio in Golfito, Costa Rica, where she lives part of the year.
The goods: Glass jewelry (bracelets, earrings and neck pieces) primarily made from soda lime glass with accents of high-silver & dichroic glass, giving Fleming’s pieces a unique metallic or sparkly iridescence.
The process: Rods and strips of glass are melted and shaped on a mandrel into various designs. Fleming uses an oxygen-propane torch to make the glass shapes and combines them with oxidized sterling silver.
What’s popular: Earrings ($68 to $325), depending on the complexity. Fleming gives her pieces names like anemone, tree frog, urchin, arapaima and oropendola.
Other favorites: Pendant neck pieces ($125 to $575).
What’s new: Bold, often chunky bracelets and cuffs ($325 to $1,200) that are fun to pair with earrings or neckpieces.
Inspiration for designs: Think Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Seas” with its underwater imagery. Also her collection of ethnic and vintage jewelry from her worldwide travels.
Unusual request: A funerary vessel neckpiece to hold the ashes of a family member.
Side passion: In 2010, Fleming and her husband founded Ocho Verde Wildlife Reserve, purchasing and protecting 118 acres of rainforest in southern Costa Rica, where they live part of the year. The couple set up a glass studio and are active in wildlife conservation. Learn more at ochoverde.com.
Get social at: At Kate Rothra Fleming Glass Jewelry on facebook and kate fleming art glass jewelry on instagram.