‘I like to do things no one expects’: Bath artist opens home shop
Kathy Brill, the mastermind behind studio Kharris B in Bath, sits with a steaming soldering iron in one hand while flipping through uniform pre-cut squares of stained glass in every color with the other. She sets up an amber brown square next to a complementary color and solder bubbles as the new piece is merged with her partner.
Brill said she decided to learn how to do stained glass art 20 years ago after being “annoyed that people were making illustrative pieces out of something that is already art”.
She holds a plate full of aqua lessons at the French doors in front of her. When the light hits it, streaks of sky blue and lavender appear.
“When I look at stained glass, I just want to frame the glass,” Brill said. “I don’t want to cut it up and make a frog out of it. It seems blasphemous to have something so beautiful and distract yourself from it by making some kind of cartoon. I took a stained art class so I could make art that shows how beautiful glass is.
Behind Brill, natural “found objects” like mushrooms, seed pods and pressed leaves are strewn across a table, which she also made, in her cramped basement studio.
Brill and her husband, Ken, recently converted their bedroom in the basement of their home at 20 Webber Ave. in store for his art. The couple previously operated a store in Bath city center until it closed in 2018.
Although geometric stained glass fills the windows of his studio and store, Brill’s art is far from limited to stained glass. Brill’s medium of choice ranges from objects found in nature like mushrooms and pine cones to small detailed man-made objects like computer circuit boards and watch gears. She also works with wood and makes furniture.
Raised in Utah and Wyoming, Brill said she always enjoyed creating art as a way to record the world around her. Her love of creating art with found objects began when she created outdoor fairy villages. She said returning to this medium later in her career is “a safe place”.
“I pick things from the ditches and when I go into the woods I focus more on the details of the rocks, the leaves, the pine cones, the weird sticks,” she said. “When you have all these materials, my brain is already percolating where they would live, so creating these environments has been fun.”
One of Brill’s final phases involves filling the tiny compartments of old composition drawers with a combination of “strange bits” like moss, pebbles, old computer circuit boards, and watch gears.
“I like to put things in there that the person buying it might not see for a while because they’re hidden in there,” she said. “If I was a kid, this is the art I would want to watch. It just feeds my brain.
Whatever she creates, Brill said she makes art a way to work and release whatever she was thinking or feeling, whether positive or negative.
“I don’t make things to sell,” Brill said. “I do things to get them out of my head, and I like to do things that no one expects. That’s how I breathe. My frustrations, my happiness, my sadness, everything I feel, it manifests physically. I don’t talk about stuff, but if I do something… it helps.
Pretty Girls Sing Soprano will perform in Brunswick and raise money for charity