An early pioneer of the fusing movement in the Northwest, Michael Dupille is accustomed to developing the processes and products necessary to achieve his aesthetic goals in glass. As the creator and early master of Fritography, the artist’s work can be found in numerous public and private collections including those of the Washington and Oregon State Arts Commissions, The Everett Cultural Commission, The Seattle Times, The Pierce County Arts Commission, Amazon.com, and the Seattle Mariners.
He says: “At first, I was the only person doing frit work. Now there are many people teaching the techniques. Working with frit and fusing in general gives you freedom of expression. Learning how the colors work, how they fire, and what you can do with the different sizes of frit provides a conduit for your imagination.”
Some of the most unique developments in Dupille’s work have been the result of experimentation or aesthetic accident. He has the mindset of a perpetual student, always looking for ways to make his art more interesting and extraordinary. This led to the birth in 2003 of Tranchant du Verre, Dupille’s exclusive process requiring a mix of his specially formulated CMC gum called Vitrigel with System 96 powdered glass. He is also the developer of Castalot Glass Mold material.
Innovation and creation have always gone hand in hand for Dupille, as seen in everything from his large-scale glass feathers to his frit paintings of baseball games to his recent 4-foot custom glass hockey sticks.
Dupille’s journey in glass began in the mid-1970s. Upon graduation from Central Washington University in Ellensburg, the young artist moved to the Seattle/ Tacoma area where he attended Clover Park Vocational Technical Institute, studying offset printing and lithography. Meeting fellow fusers Richard La Londe and Ruth Brockmann at a street fair, Dupille was eventually invited to their studio and introduced to one of the founders of Bullseye Glass Co., Boyce Lundstrom. Dupille’s training in design and illustration came in handy for the early print advertising, book layouts and T-shirts he produced for Bullseye and Lundstrom’s glass school, Camp Colton. While working on Lundstrom’s Fusing books two and three, Dupille started teaching glass classes at the school.
As an innovator of new techniques and products, Dupille has been in demand as a teacher for the last three decades, instructing all over the United States and Mexico. Two workshops will be offered in 2020, one at Anything in Stained Glass, in Frederick, Maryland, this September, and in October in the UK at Glassification. Dupille is also working on a couple of new e- books and will release a series of production casting molds later this year. One of Dupille’s favorite experiences is opening up a glass magazine or book and seeing a former student’s work.
In the early 1990s, Brockmann won a competition sponsored by the Oregon Arts Commission to create a pair of murals for the lobby of the Portland State Office Building. Created in collaboration with her partner Hal Bond, Dupille was also enlisted to collaborate on the two murals, which covered a total of 320 square feet and included fused glass, kiln cast glass, and colored cement.
Since those early days, public and private commissions have comprised a large portion of Dupille’s work in glass. Some of his largest and most challenging artwork touches the lives of hundreds of teachers and students in the Public School environment every day. His most recent, Manito Glow was installed in 2017 at Hutton Elementary School in Spokane, Washington, a Percent for Arts project offered through the Washington State Arts Commission. Although the process of creating art for schools is not significantly different from producing other large-scale work, Dupille’s goal is always to inspire his audience. “Glass has such unique and beautiful properties, and the students, parents, and faculty are drawn to it for that as well as the process used to make the work.”