Sculpting Time: Kelly O’Dell’s Hot Glass Ammonites

Detail of “Scarlet”
  • Kelly O’Dell, an artist from Lopez Island, draws inspiration from ammonites, extinct marine cephalopods, for her hot glass sculptures.
  • O'Dell's Hawaiian upbringing amidst natural geological phenomena deeply influenced her fascination with mortality and the delicate balance of life.
  • Her artwork, symbolizing both the elegance and fragility of existence, features vibrant colors and textures, bringing these ancient creatures to life in glass.
  • O'Dell's upcoming exhibition is set to open in March 2024 at Duncan McClellan Gallery.

Remember the last time you stumbled upon something so ancient yet so profoundly beautiful that it stopped you in your tracks? That's the kind of magic Kelly O’Dell infuses in her artwork. Picture yourself stepping into a gallery, your eyes immediately drawn to the stunning display ahead. There, arrayed with an elegance that takes your breath away, are Kelly O'Dell's glass ammonites. Each sculpture, with its spiraling form, whispers tales of an ancient world, a testament to a time that seems almost mythical now.

“Aquatic Flash.”

Growing up, my imagination was captivated by tales of dinosaurs and prehistoric marvels. So, encountering O'Dell's work was like stepping into one of those stories. It feels as if she's not just crafting glass but is, in a way, rekindling the essence of these long-extinct beings. However, her art transcends beyond mere recreation of the past; it's a dialogue between the ancient and the modern, a bridge across eons.
O'Dell's journey began on the Hawaiian islands, a place as alive and ever-changing as the art she creates. She once told me, "I grew up obsessed with my own mortality, right alongside rumbling earthquakes and gurgling volcanoes." You see, living amidst such raw, natural power shaped her perception of life and its fleeting nature.


In her studio on Lopez Island, you'll find her lost in her world of glass and fire, crafting these mesmerizing ammonites. The way she manipulates the hot glass, adding vibrant colors and intricate textures, it's like she's having a silent conversation with each piece. It's not just glasswork; it's a dance of preservation and a reminder of our transient existence.

"Each piece I create is a memento," she once explained to me, her eyes reflecting the fiery glow of the furnace. "A reminder of our borrowed time on this Earth." O'Dell's creations transcend mere visual appeal, inviting us on a poignant journey that mirrors life's delicate nature, much like the vulnerability of her glass medium.


The anticipation for her March 2024 exhibition at the Duncan McClellan Gallery is palpable. This isn't just another display; it's an immersive experience, a gateway where history and the present, resilience and delicacy, existence and artistry, all intertwine.

As someone deeply immersed in the art world, I see O'Dell's work as a profound meditation on the precarious equilibrium between being and ceasing to be. Her sculptures are not just artistic expressions; they are narratives encapsulated in glass, each beckoning us to appreciate the transient yet beautiful journey of life.

So, if you ever get a chance, step into her world of spiraling glass ammonites. You might just find yourself contemplating the profound mysteries of life, just as I did.

“sunset seas”
“Sunset Seas”
“Of Ancient Seas"