About the creation of my glass fish

The 10-year adventure of becoming a
"fused glass artist."


Written by Amber Daley

Anyone who knew Isaiah Heyer in 2005 might be surprised to hear that his career path has veered off into the creative realm. Fresh out of college, he came on board with AT&T Fixed Wireless (research and development group), where he advanced to the position of Engineering Technician. Later, Heyer worked for other companies in a technical capacity. Art was the last thing one might have expected from Isaiah Heyer.

But anyone who knew him as a child would not be shocked to know that today Heyer is a successful glass artist. Like many children, he loved to draw and busied himself with creative pursuits, not inhibited by the parameters of the 'real world.' Even as an adult, while occupied with his technical career, he found a creative outlet, dabbling in Web site building and design. Today, this creative bent reveals itself in additional ways, namely, the colorful fused glass fish that hang in studios and galleries all over the Pacific Northwest.

Heyer says his creative journey resumed when he moved to Vashon Island to live closer to his girlfriend Sarah and help care for her elderly grandfather. Despite the initial shock of the new environment, he rejected the familiarity of a technological background and embraced a different career path. Heyer, partly inspired by his brother's landscaping business, "took the first job that sounded intriguing," an available position at a nursery. It wasn't long before clients observed yet another one of Heyer's talents: hardscaping, a form of landscape design that employs stone, water and other inanimate elements. This new form of expression was something the artist admits he "picked up quite naturally."

Soon after, Heyer stumbled upon yet another art form. While accompanying Sarah on a search for mosaic supplies in Tacoma's renowned glass-oriented community, the duo learned of a glass-fusing workshop that incidentally had two openings that same day. Not hesitating, they both took the class. Though the workshop taught him only the basics, Heyer recalls, "I was hooked." As the day ended, he left the shop a proud owner of a glass kiln. Completely by accident, he had learned the art of glass fusing.

In the following months, Heyer began experimenting. He started creating glass fish in the garage. He even collaborated with his sister Alysia—also an artist—during the initial design phase of glass salmon and trout.

In time, Heyer's source of inspiration took on more meaning. During a previous visit to Idaho, he toured backcountry streams with a non-profit organization that warned about salmon extinction. Sarah's grandfather Robert Morgan also had lived a seasoned life in the fishing industry, being well-known and respected in his community of Cordova, Alaska, where he owned Morpac Cannery and served as president of several fishing companies. There was clearly a deeper connection between Heyer and the underwater world he was creating in the studio.

What began with eager experimentation evolved into skillful precision. "When I first thought about the construction on the glass garden salmon, it took me a very long time to perfect before I was comfortable to show them," explains Heyer. Today, sea life and river dwellers are born in his studio—he creates glass salmon, trout, bass and koi; but is also busy designing coral reefs complete with sharks over two feet long and a rainbow of tropical fish.

Today, the tactile meets the technical in Heyer's glass works. Each fish is a piece of art in and of itself, requiring a succession of painstaking steps. Before it is complete, the glass must undergo multiple firings in a kiln, a process that often takes four to five days. "I always have to be on my game to get my desired results," he explains. "I still cringe when I open the kiln lid on my last firing hoping that the piece turns out as planned, even on pieces that I have made many, many times before." The complex process and the fragility of glass clearly has its drawbacks. "There is always the possibility of failure," says Heyer. "It has taken me many years just to get where I am now."

Heyer's glass fish bring life, color and movement to gardens and galleries, both as outdoor installations and wall mounted pieces. His once suppressed creativity has also come to life with the new art form. "Coming to Vashon opened up my eyes to a whole different side of the world," he says. Had he not been exposed to the area's thriving arts scene, he reflects, "I'd still be sitting in a cubicle." Much like a fish swimming upstream, the transitions weren't always easy. But the effort has paid off. Heyer admits that "the right plan" has always seemed to simply fall into his lap. He also credits his surroundings—and Sarah's support—for his newfound artistic freedom. "Without her I wouldn't have been able to do this at all," he says. Although his youth was largely focused on the arts, a change of scenery was needed for Heyer to resume a creative lifestyle.

**In July 2013 Isaiah moved to Kamuela, Hawaii.






In the early days...

Around the Seattle area, Isaiah began selling his glass art in the form
of glass house numbers

Glass house numbers

Glass coaster sets, made with Sarah, were being sold at a gift shop on
Mercer Island, WA.

Glass coaster sets

Isaiah's sister Alysia, created this black outline design for his
prototype garden salmon.

Prototype glass fish garden art

Inside the Skutt GM1414 glass kiln.

Making glass fish in a kiln


Projects are now on hold. Isaiah will be working on a Chinook (King) Salmon. The Chinook (King) Salmon will be wall-mountable or shown as a table-top piece. A ~21-inch Koi as a wall piece of art is also being developed. Due to moving these will be on hold.


Isaiah enjoys working with the natural assets of the environment--water and rock--to transform the ordinary backyard into a garden retreat tailored to the specific style of the homeowner. Consultations are available, as Isaiah will work with you to... Go to !


Isaiah works in the cellular communications industry. With hands-on experience with networks of multiple standards such as LTE, UMTS, GSM, WiMAX, and TCP / IP. Some past employers include AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile and the Idaho National Laboratory.