Apprentice glassblowers show off wares
Jamestown middle school students will hold an exhibition of their blown-glass designs at the community center this weekend. The students, from grades 5 to 8, made designs during a glass-blowing lesson in the classroom, and continued to the artisans' workshop to complete their art pieces. The one-time only show will be on Sunday afternoon, July 15, from 4 to 5 p.m.
Resident glassblowing artists David and Jennifer Clancy invited students to learn the art of glassblowing through an introductory workshop given at Lawn Avenue School.
The special mini course blossomed from a career exploration day at the school on May 24, called Island Treasures. Over 40 presenters offered 90-minute hands-on workshops, giving students the opportunity to learn about some of the professions that thrive in the local community. This year was the first year of the event.
Participation by the Clancys also offered the artists the opportunity to share their craft with community youths. The Clancy Designs studio has been on North Main Road for about three years. The workshop has a glass-heating furnace and two "glory holes," which are smaller furnaces for reheating glass. Sweat is a given with ovens pumping out over 2000 degrees of heat.
The students who took part in the program, such as Jessica Safford, 12, showed wonder and appreciation through sparkling eyes. "I didn't realize it was a job," exclaimed Safford, one of 17 students who learned the specialized technique. Squatting near one of the smaller furnaces, she blew into a long, thin tube, with her handpainted glass bulb, hot and glowing, attached at the other end.
The couple worked with Safford, demonstrating timing and precision. Jennifer directed Safford, while David manipulated the shape of the glass. While Safford followed the rolling tube with her breath, David used a wad of wet, rolled-up newspaper to smooth out the shape. Paper sparks flew as the hot glass spun.
The couple praised Safford's finished product, and complemented its unusual shape. "No other shapes look like that," David noted. Safford, a girl of few words, was all smiles.
In fact, David confided, none of the glass objects are quite the same. He hid the completed pieces upstairs, "away from peeking eyes," until the day of the exhibit.
Some of the students were from families in the armed forces, Jennifer mentioned. They finished the art session before leaving the island, and their work will also be on display.
Both David and Jennifer agree the experience was a success, and they look forward to participating next year. For more information about blown-glass art, visit online at www.clancydesigns.com.