Monadnock Profiles: Jaffrey’s Susan Roston uses her natural surroundings as inspiration for her art

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston of Jaffrey makes fused glass landscapes in her basement studio and is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Susan Roston. Courtesy—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/7/2019 11:07:13 AM
By TIM GOODWIN

Susan Roston wasn’t quite sure she was cut out for the country life.

But after three and a half years living across from Thorndike Pond in Jaffrey, she couldn’t envision it any other way. Plus, the natural surroundings are the perfect inspiration for her retirement work, as that of a fused glass maker.

Before moving to Jaffrey, Roston was always a bit of a city person – at least lived close enough that she could be one when she wanted to be. She grew up on Long Island, went to college in Rochester N.Y. and then went to grad school just outside of Boston in Cambridge, where she lived during her professional days as a software engineer.

But Roston and her husband, Phil Bailey, would spend many summers coming up to this area of New Hampshire to get away for vacations and had a great appreciation for its way of life. One of the main attractions was the thriving art scene. The two began as collectors, but Roston grew up in an artistic family, so she always knew she would eventually create art in some form, like she did growing up with mask making and weaving.

“I was very much introduced to the arts,” Roston said.

Just didn’t know that it would turn into a real passion. And no better time to pick up a new passion than in retirement.

More than a decade ago, she took a class in stained glass at Snow Farm, a craft school in Williamsburg, Mass., where she stayed for a week intensive program. Then she got a glimpse into the world of fused glass. But it was just merely a hobby for a while.

“I just played around in my basement,” Roston said. “There’s so much you can do with glass.”

She took a few classes, watched online tutorials and it quickly became something so much more – and she was starting to get pretty good.

“I was making all this stuff and thought, ‘what am I going to do with all this?’” Roston said. So she started attending art/craft shows to sell it, and then making more of it.

One of the many reasons they chose to settle in this area was because of the thriving art scene. She’s since joined the board of Monadnock Arts Tour, has shown at places like the Sharon Arts Center, the Jaffrey Civic Center and the Walpole Arts Tour. Roston is currently part of the latest League of N.H. Craftsmen headquarters show in Concord highlighting new juried members who have been accepted in the last two years.

It’s a rigorous process to get accepted by the League. So Roston first went for a critique in 2017 and then formally applied last year.

“They have a very high standard and all the artists are excellent, and I wanted to push myself,” Roston said. “I made a lot of progress from my critique and they accepted me right away, but it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done.”

Roston still works in her basement, but upgraded both her skills and equipment.

“The first thing you need to know is the cutting,” she said.

There aren’t many artists in the area that create Roston’s style of fused glass. All of it is cut, then ground to make the smooth edges fit together into a picturesque landscape – at least that’s mostly what she makes. She also makes nebulas inpsired by images from the Hubble Telescope.

Once she has the right fit and color collaboration, Roston will carefully put her work into her state of the art kiln at 1485 degrees for about 10 hours, which will take care of the fusing process that takes the individual cuts of glass and make them into one piece of art.

“It has to expand and contract the same or it will shatter,” Roston said.

There’s a lot more that goes into it, like grinding down and polishing the edges after, all the bandaids that come with cutting large amounts of glass and all the extra additions that make each creation unique.

“I don’t usually have a pattern, I sort of just start. I have an idea, but sometimes it totally changes,” Roston said. “And if you’re trying something new, you don’t know what it’s going to look like. It’s always a surprise when you open the kiln.”

It took about six months of dedicated time to get a good handle on the craft and she’s constantly working to improve.

But while she spends a lot of her time working on perfecting her craft, Roston enjoys many aspects of retirement. First of all the house she and Phil share with their two cats, Guinness and Moxie, has a breathtaking view of the pond and waterfront access that allows them to spend many warm weather days on the water in their kayaks.

“This is a great area for inspiration,” Roston said.

She loves to entertain and cook, and the couple has been known to jet around the globe in their quest to see it all. They went to Murano, Italy this summer, where there just so happened to be a glass art society conference, and there’s a plan to take a safari in Kenya and Tanzania in September.

It’s safe to say that Roston is embracing all aspects of retirement. And she’d have it no other way.




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