- Associated Press - Saturday, July 26, 2014

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) - For artist Alexandra Ortiz, her talent for hand-painting glassware was something her mother passed down to her.

Ortiz, of Middletown, began making her specialized glassware 15 years ago, perfecting a technique began by her mother.

“She used to use an ancient technique with the glass and cutting out museum print,” Ortiz said. “I took that technique and applied my own hand-drawn designs and transferred them to the glassware.”

Ortiz studied at Middlesex Community College in Middletown and the University of Hartford before moving to New York City for years for an apprenticeship before coming home to Middletown.

“In New York, we did silk screening and painted floors,” Ortiz said. “It was all very Arabesque and Middle Eastern.”

On July 12, Ortiz launched her first exhibit at the Buttonwood Tree on Main Street.

“We have not had a visual artist display plates or pottery in the past seven years since I’ve been executive director or on the board,” said Anne-Marie Cannata, executive director for the Buttonwood Tree.

Ortiz spends more than two weeks on a piece, adding layers of glazes, paper, enamels and metal leaves to make her designs.

“I take my drawing first and transfer it to the glass,” Ortiz said. “I start painting and do other techniques on the reverse side.”

Ortiz begins adding layer after layer, usually up to 17 on each piece, allowing each one to dry a day between them.

“It takes a while,” Ortiz said. “I love it. It’s like meditation for me.”

Ortiz’s glassware is full of enamels, iridescent glazes, handmade paper, precious metal leaves and is finished off with resin. The art itself is inspired by shapes creating patterns, cultures of the East, nature and colors. She describes her art as very rich and intricate.

“To see it transform from an outline, it’s rewarding,” Ortiz said. “I design as I go along. I kind of make it up as I go. I’ll have an idea of the color scheme, but I’ll keep adding layers of glazes.”

Ortiz’s eventual goal is to launch an online shop. Her exhibit at the Buttonwood runs until the end of July.

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