MORAGA -- Janice Peacock is fascinated with things from the past, so she's created her glass work pieces to look ancient.

Peacock, who first began her work in hot glass more than 20 years ago, now creates sculptural pieces by ladling hot glass from a furnace into sand molds. One such example is the "Nautilus," a sculptural glowing glass piece.

"A lot of my work looks ancient," said the Lafayette artist. "I like the idea of someone finding an ancient artifact like a shell or something dug up on an archaeological dig."

Shells, masks and vessels are the hallmark of Peacock's cast sand glasswork, on display at the Moraga Art Gallery through Jan. 4. In the exhibit "Capturing Light: Lens and Glass," Peacock's work shares the spotlight with that of Wenda Pyman, who specializes in landscape, nature and travel photography. The show also includes works by the gallery's 14 resident artists and several guest artists.

Peacock's beads and necklaces, created by a flameworking process in which she uses a torch to melt glass, are also on display.

Peacock retreats to a glass studio in Alameda to create these ancient-like pieces such as the likeness of a mask used in traditional cultural ceremonies.

She pours molten glass into a sand mold, wearing a face mask, a heat-resistant suit and a glove to protect her from the radiant heat of the glass heated to 2,200 degrees to make it liquid enough to pour. A cast glass mask is revealed from its sand mold. While it's still hot -- by now about 1,500 degrees -- Peacock places the mask in a kiln to cool for 24 hours.

The finished results of this intense hot glass process can be viewed at the gallery.

The artist said she wants people to establish a link to the past through her work.

"I grew up in Southern California, where there's hardly any evidence of the past," she said. "I like to help people reconnect with the past in different ways through cultural objects."

Speaking of the past, Peacock used to just create and sell her beads from flameworking. Now, she displays of complete pieces of her necklace designs for viewing or sale, she said.

Her passion for cast sand glasswork had Peacock attending classes with renowned glass artists in Seattle and Scotland.

Diane Woodall, managing editor of the Soda Lime Times, an online magazine for lampworkers, featured Peacock's work in the publication.

Woodall said she took a class from Peacock a few years ago and got a glimpse into what inspires her to create her unique beads.

"Anyone who knows Janice's work will agree that her mask beads and vessels are instantly recognizable," Woodall said. "Though she works with modern tools and materials, she has developed techniques for making her beads looked aged. At first glance, they appear to have come from an ancient site and not a state-of-the-art studio. As a former student and fan of her work, it was exciting for me to see Janice's mask beads recreated in a larger-than-life size."

Peacock's bead work will be featured in Lark Book's "1,000 Beads," to be released in the spring. A limited edition of one-a-kind series of glass snowflakes created by Peacock will be featured at the Blackhawk Gallery this winter.

The artist has long been fascinated with what early explorers discovered in unchartered territory and hopes to resurrect that spirit of "the hunt" for artifacts through her pieces.

"I create pieces that look like they've been found -- things that are meaningful," she said.

"Treasures like a hubcap or a dollar, things that have been brought back to life, like a shell that looks like it's been washed up on the shore by the ocean. I like to bring that tactile, textural appearance that's not only interesting to look at but also interesting to feel."

Glass artist Janice Peacock
  • WHAT: "Capturing Light: Lens and Glass" exhibit
  • WHERE: Moraga Art Gallery, Rheem Shopping Center, 522 Center St.
  • WHEN: Through Jan. 4
  • INFORMATION: Visit www.moragaartgallery.com or call 925-376-5407.