#Amber Cowan

Amber Cowan Transforms Flameworked Vintage Glass into Lush Assemblages

October 13, 2023

Kate Mothes

“Bittersweet, River and Milk” (2023). Photos by Matthew Hollerbush. All images © Amber Cowan, shared with permission

In elaborate detail, Amber Cowan recycles vintage glass into sculptures that effervesce with botanical frills and nostalgic motifs (previously). Many of the pieces shown here comprise the artist’s exhibition Alchemy of Adornment, now on view at the Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts, delving into the phases of popularity and eventual decline of glassware. “By the end of the 20th century, inexpensive pressed milky white and colored glass candy dishes, vases, and novelties—once proudly displayed in American homes—had fallen from favor,” says an exhibition statement.

Cowan draws on the medium’s legacy in her intricate wall pieces and freestanding sculptures, emphasizing the vast potential of the material. Vessels, kitsch, and decor transform into fantastical assemblages centered around femininity, change, and nostalgia. Using glass found in thrift stores, online sales, or by way of friends, Cowan incorporates antique pieces with flameworked cullet, or waste material that can be remelted. Sometimes, strangers donate their objects to see them revived in an artwork, and many of the fragments originate from defunct regional manufacturers in distinctive colorways that will never be produced again.

Alchemy of Adornment continues through December 31 in Millville, New Jersey. Find more on Cowan’s website and Instagram.


“Melanie Walking Snail with Cart” (2023)

“Art Nude Cascade in Jade” (2023)

“Candelabra in Shell” (2023)

“Dreams of a Decendant of Sirenuse” (2022), commissioned by Brunnier Art Museum

Detail of “Dreams of a Decendant of Sirenuse”

“Willie the Mouse with Tractor and Train” (2023)

“Cornucopia in Shell” (2021)

“Lamb and Dog in Sky and Milk” (2023)

Detail of “Bittersweet, River and Milk”

#Amber Cowan


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