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1960 telephone booth converted into human kaleidoscope

Kathy Seff, a glass artist who lives in

Kathy Seff, a glass artist who lives in the Artspace Patchogue Lofts, will exhibit her first solo show this month, featuring a 1960s phone booth she covered in colorful glass to create a "human kaleidoscope." (Sept. 13, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

When Kathy Seff picks up a piece of glass, holds it to the light and is splashed with its often colorful reflection, she feels happy.

It’s a feeling she has always wanted to share, and one that drew her to the craft of glass work, even after initially pursuing and going to school for graphic design.

Now she thinks she has found a way to share her passion, through a project she refers to as a “human kaleidoscope,” a 1960s telephone booth she’s covered in thousands of pieces of colored glass.

“I want people to really appreciate glass the way I do,” said Seff, a second-generation glass artist who lives at the Artspace Patchogue Lofts. “I feel like if it’s on all four sides of them where they can’t get away from it, they will.”

The telephone booth will be a prominent feature of Seff’s first solo exhibition, “Glas!!,” which runs Sept. 24 through Oct. 14 at the Artspace Patchogue Gallery.

The exhibit will also feature other works by Seff, including a collection of glass plates, repurposed bicycle wheels hung on the wall, and a ski ball backing she mosaicked in vintage mirrors.

“I just want people to take a step back and go, ‘Wow, there’s so much color here,’” she said. “I love color and I want people to experience that.”

Seff, who works with her mother at her Bayport studio, Colorful Visions, said she’s especially excited to share her work because so many people contributed in her ability to make it happen.

Overwhelmed by the cost of an exhibit — supplies, hanging the work, and in Seff’s case, buying and transporting the phone booth, which she bought from a couple in Rocky Point on Craigslist — Seff took to the Internet crowdsourcing site, indiegogo, to help fund her show.

More than 50 people donated, and not only did online funders exceed her initial $2,300 goal, but people continue to come to the Bayport studio where she works to donate in person.

To date, Seff has raised $2,460 and she intends to use the extra money to buy benches for the Artspace gallery.

Jeanne DeMata-Pothos, who owns Gallo Rosso Kitchen Design in Blue Point, was the first person to donate, Seff said.

DeMata-Pothos said she is a big fan of Seff and her mother’s work, so when she heard about Seff’s exhibit, she was eager to help out.

“The first time I walked into the studio, I was enchanted,” she said. “They do a great job and they are very creative.”

Seff’s mother, Sandy, said her daughter — the youngest of four children — has always shown great talent, and she agreed to let her start working in the studio when she was 13 years old.

“Her imagination is fantastic and it’s real,” she said. “She can see the reality of something long before it’s there.”

That vision is what helped bring the kaleidoscope project together, after years of watching her mother create small kaleidoscopes to sell in the studio.

As she puts the final pieces on the project this week, Seff said she can’t wait for people to take a step into her world.

“My goal for when people walk into the kaleidoscope,” she said, “is for them to be slightly confused, very elated and just walk out and tell people, ‘Oh you’ve got to go in.’ ”


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