By Anna Grace Moore
Photos by Kelsea Schafer
What often gets taken for granted are the smaller things in life–habitual moments presumed immeasurable. The sun rises and sets near the same time everyday; people awake for their typical nine-to-fives, coming home to cook dinner and go to sleep just to wake back up and do it all over again.
Life is described as fleeting, but that’s usually because people do not take the time to appreciate the little things in life that make all the difference. Having worked as a family nurse practitioner with an emphasis in palliative care, local artist Lisa Baldone knows just how precious small things or moments can be.
Lisa is the founder and owner of Elemental Design–her own glass-making and design business. She specializes in making intricate glass work, such as plates, bowls, jewelry and more–from some of the Earth’s rarest metals, forms of glass and natural stones, too.
Her love for the unusually innate began when she was a child, fascinated with rocks–black obsidian to be exact.
“I’ve always been interested in natural stones and geology,” Lisa says.
Lisa majored in biology in college and went on to complete a lengthy career in the medical field, where her efforts were focused primarily on being a beacon of love for her patients in their last days here on Earth. She describes her career as methodical, cut-and-dry, with little room to be creative.
So, Lisa began pursuing one of her childhood passions, art, in retirement. She completed courses with the Gemology Institute of America and even completed the Applied Jewelry Professional program, too.
“I also did some coursework in New York in diamond grading,” Lisa says. “My intent was to be a jewelry appraiser.”
However, Lisa soon realized that much like her nursing career, appraising jewelry did not yield the creative outlet she so craved in her newfound time. She came across glass art one day in her creative process, and she began making glass jewelry, primarily tribal jewelry, for fun.
“I got interested in [glass making] when I saw some acrylic glass pendants,” Lisa says. “I started out with a small kiln and taught myself different designs.”
Lisa has now been creating glass art for 15 years, describing her style as reminiscent of mid-century modern styles. She enjoys every moment she spends creating, using her hands to invent new and exciting designs.
Her background in biology and chemistry has helped her branch out into using reactive glass. Lisa also enjoys working with rough moonstone, lavender stone, pearls and various types of natural elements.
She now owns three different kilns and can spend several hours on any one piece, perfecting the impurities in the fire. Lisa’s smallest kiln in particular has a window on top, allowing her to gaze upon her artwork fusing into fruition.
“I’ve been researching painted glass, which is when you take a sheet of already-fused glass pair it with certain paint, and it creates this beautiful display of colors,” Lisa says. “I’m also learning different ways of stacking glass to create different designs.”
A specific design utilizes thin pieces of dichroic glass fused together in various patterns. One of her favorite designs is stripes.
“I [make] this curved bowl, which is long and curved up on the ends, and take strips of glass and put them together,” Lisa says. “I take stringers, which are tiny rods that I put between the glass, and put them in different places. I always try to use odd numbers of colors and glass and don’t use a whole lot of structure.”
When asked what was her favorite piece she’s made, Lisa says it was a glass plate with black, white and clear stripes of glass embedded together in layers. She sold it rather quickly.
“I enjoy people’s reactions, and when they do buy a piece, a lot of times they’ll send me a picture of what it looks like in their homes,” Lisa says.
While Lisa first stuck to very structured designs as she began her hobby-turned-side hustle, she now is quite whimsical in her creative process, allowing herself to freely create whatever her heart desires.
“I enjoy beautiful things,” Lisa says. “It brings me joy to create pieces that are decidedly my own.”
One of Lisa’s favorite “moments,” she recalls, is while working on the beach and looking for inspiration, a bystander soon approached her, inquiring about her beachy creations. Amazed at Lisa’s raw talent, the bystander ended up bringing Lisa shells, stones and any other item she could find for Lisa to use.
The chance meeting led Lisa to sell more than $100 of “impromptu art.” Anything can be beautiful within the lens of those who appreciate the little things in life, she says.
Working in palliative care meant for Lisa that she would have to “stick to the script,” working tirelessly to care for patients that in the end, would move on from this world inevitably. Working to create beautiful pieces of art, she says, yields the physical beauty of her labor–one thing she only got to experience in the last fleeting smiles of her patients, holding their hands and helping them find peace.
Lisa has never forgotten a patient, as she’s reminded of their kind souls when she creates her art because even though some moments were tough or painful, her art serves as a beautiful reflection of what she feels within. If anything, creating her art is a way for her to process such moments, honoring those who’ve gone on to their own versions of Heaven or “the great beyond.”
These small smiles, these precious moments and now, the joy people experience from receiving her art, are all reasons, she says, never to take life for granted. Life is full of beautiful, fleeting moments or chance encounters or simply put, incredible things that humans create.
Even the smallest, most imperceptible stones almost everyone takes for granted upon first look. It just goes to show that when recognized, the little things in life can be utilized to reveal the beauty in creation.
Appreciating these “little things” is how life becomes worth living—not just harmoniously with one another, but also with an innate purpose in each person to discover the beauty within us all.
Those interested in viewing or purchasing Lisa’s artwork can visit elementaldzn.com.