By Louise Irvine
Chelsea Rousso is a glass artist, fashion designer, writer, and teacher. She specializes in kiln-formed fused glass and holds regular classes for aspiring glass artists at her studio in Lauderdale by the Sea and at the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts in Dania Beach.
Before moving to Florida, Chelsea was a successful New York fashion designer. She was the Creative Director of her own companies, including Earth Song which specialized in casual dressing with a sustainable attitude. She also developed private label products for major department stores and catalogs such as Nordstrom.
In Florida, Chelsea’s design focus turned to sustainable bedding and home products and she began lecturing on green fashion and design at Nova Southeastern University. Her books on Fashion Forward: A Guide to Fashion Forecasting are great teaching guides for trends. For many years, Chelsea was a professor of fashion design and merchandising at the former Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and now teaches at the Miami Fashion Institute at Miami-Dade College.
Chelsea first discovered glass on her European trade show travels. She fell in love with Baccarat and Lalique in Paris and decided to learn how to blow glass as another creative outlet. She attended classes at the Experimental Glass Studio in New York, later known as Urban Glass. Her ambition to create large sculptural forms led her to kiln-formed glass, which she studied at Corning in New York.
Chelsea combines her love of fashion and fused glass into a unique form of wearable glass, including corsets and bikini tops, which have been modeled at fashion shows at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the Glass Art Society’s Conferences in Corning, NY, and Toledo, OH, and WMODA. When not on the catwalks, many of Chelsea’s wearable glass outfits are exhibited in the museum’s Carnival & Cabaret exhibit.
Chelsea explores theories of fashion and glass in relation to consumer culture by focusing on women, gender, image, and memory. One of the challenges she faced initially to create wearable glass was developing a technique that followed the form of the female body. She now makes customized outfits for a varied clientele.
Chelsea also creates unique sculptures with ribbons and threads of glass woven and fused into beautiful silhouettes which are for sale in the WMODA Studio Collection gallery along with her fused glass panels of mermaids and other ocean-themed subjects. Exploring the beauty of Florida seascapes has been the inspiration for many of Chelsea’s recent glass art commissions.
One of Chelsea’s latest commissions was to make a customized glass top for Rhanu, our mermaid in residence, which was inspired by her whale shark tail. The mermaid’s top made its debut at the Fantasy, Fashion & Fun in the Fired Arts event held at WMODA in January 2021 launch Fort Lauderdale Art & Design Week.
Chelsea uses her teaching expertise to inspire others to experience the joy of creating glass art. At her workshops, she demonstrates a huge variety of techniques for making fused and kiln formed glass. Classes at WMODA have ranged from making fabulous Mardi Gras masks to menorahs for Hanukkah.
Mershark Rhanu by the pool