An Afternoon with Artist & Entrepreneur Courtney Gray
To say that I had a good time spending an afternoon in the studio with Courtney Gray–the artist and entrepreneur behind gracyc glass–would be an understatement. Courtney is warm, effervescent, smart and talented. Did I mention she is hysterical? I felt like I had known her for years within minutes of meeting her. Courtney showed me around her home studio; being based at home is her practical solution for staying in touch with family life, while still having the opportunity for late-hour artistic inspirations. Courtney is based in Chico, Northern California, and has garnered quite a following in the community and beyond.
Courtney is a fused-glass artist who uses a kiln to fuse the glass, which is later shaped over a mold. Her creations range from her initial breakout with themed night lights, to ring holders, custom wall sconces and jewelry–rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Her favorite shades of glass are inspired by the sea. Courtney collects vintage elements–beads and chains–to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Inspiration boards always fascinate me; they tell a unique, visual story about the creator. Courtney has a few of her favorite inspirations tacked up above her work station. I spotted ornate architectural elements, luxurious textures, global glamor, surfer chic, a cozy sweater with a ponytail, a quote about hard work and perseverance…and cookies. This inspiration board feels spot on for Courtney and her eclectic mix of styles.
The wall sconces are Courtney’s favorite pieces to design. They are spectacular! I’m just sure we will be seeing her custom fused-glass lighting fixtures in Architectural Digest magazine some day. #dreamscometrue
*What inspires you to be creative?
I work really hard at being creative. I am more of a business mind than an artist mind, so for me, creativity is part of my job. I make time for it and work hard on it. These days there is so much more inspiration out there in terms of finding design and pattern inspiration (thanks to the internet and Pinterest, etc.) I am constantly collecting ideas that inspire my work. I find inspiration in textiles and ceramics and clothing. I try to keep up with seasonal trends and colors, but in the end, I make what I love and it usually works out for me.
*How did you get started with your form of art?
I took a glass fusing class when I was at UC Davis, just for fun. The nightlights are what really made my business take off.
*How did it feel to take the plunge and do what you love full-time?
Well, I am lucky in that my husband is our main provider, so I never had to leave a great paying job to try and make grayc glass happen. I gradually built it year after year, and then, when all of my boys were in school full-time, I decided to see if I could make some “real money” (relative term!) at it. I am happy that I am doing better than I ever thought I could with this business.
*How do you balance creativity/artistry with the entrepreneurial side of your business?
I love the entrepreneurial side just as much as the art side of my business. I feel so lucky to be able to be home with my kids, do what I love, and grow a business that brings in money for my family. I think I am doing what so many women would do if they could. Also, It is easy for me because there is a bottom line: in order for me to continue to do what I love, I have to make money.
*How do you keep your inspiration going?
I make time to research trend and color forecasting…constantly brainstorming things that “speak” to me.
*What is your best advice for someone who is just starting out?
If someone is starting out with the purpose of making money, my advice would be to know the financials of your business. And price your work appropriately. Sometimes women seem to under price themselves–maybe we are just so “damn happy” people are buying what we are making–but if we don’t price it so we can make money, we can’t afford to make it anymore.
*If you could see a celebrity/historical figure wearing your jewelry who would it be (and which piece)?
Oprah! I have always loved her and have sent my rings to the company a few times. I have not made it into the magazine yet, but they did call me back and said they really liked them. I think it is time I send some more ring samples again!
Thank you, Courtney!
Last week I had the pleasure of attending a party at Courtney’s home, where her latest fused glass creations were on display. Her fans were oohing and ahhing over every piece of fused glass eye-candy.
Friends and family joined in for some tasty bites, lovely wines and some shopping. It was so much fun catching up with old friends and making some new ones.
Courtney’s pieces make beautiful and unique gifts.
Courtney with her mom, twin sister and niece-true beauties!
My collection of grayc glass is growing! I was gifted the beautiful necklace by Courtney. I purchased the sea glass nightlight and fused glass ring for myself. The wine charms and ring dish were gifts from dear friends.
See Courtney Gray on the KCRA morning show.
Follow grayc glass on Facebook
I received a necklace from Courtney Gray and all opinions of grayc glass are my own.