Friday, July 18, 2008

Little Glass Objects

In exploring the Berkshires, a charming county in the Appalachian foothills of Western Massachusetts, I came upon this wonderful artist's shop called Cheshire Glassworks. Cheshire is the name of the town (although the crescent moon on the sign out front does lend itself to an Alice in Wonderland double-entendre), and the shop is situated on state route 7.

Jill Balawender, who is the youthful, energetic glass artist and owner of the shop, gave an awesome impromptu glass bead-making demonstration using a torch mounted at her in-shop work station. We had to wear special glasses that show only certain color temperatures of light in order to be able to see the bead working in the flame (otherwise it would have just appeared to be a fiery blob!). She also showed us a small kiln where recently fired glass objects were kept heated to a certain temperature in order to harden before cooling completely. She said this hardening process was what made it possible for you to drop one of her beads and not have it shatter on the floor.

I loved chatting with Jill. She is a true artist, and loves her craft. She spoke enthusiastically about the simple pleasures of her work, and the immense pleasure of the creative and flexible life her glass shop has enabled her to have. Even the gift bag she wrapped my purchase in was inspiring. It is stamped with a Picasso quote that reads

Art washes away
from the soul
the dust of

everyday life.

I loved hearing Jill's stories about vending necklaces along the beach before taking a glass workshop that formed her new vision and subsequent business. She seemed absolutely willing to give her heart and mind the space to hear where the wind was calling her to go. And when that call came, she followed it. It seems so simple a story! How many of us can say we embarked on our career paths in such an organic, effortless manner? Jill spoke with a calm trust about her creative urges, and the way that following them created exactly the flexible, fun lifestyle she wanted. And now she gets to play with colored glass for a living all day long!

Now that's one cool woman.

Pictured above are two small glass containers that I bought from Jill, sitting on my windowsill in Brooklyn. (In the background you can see the two purple flowery plants I picked up in the Berkshires, as well.)

1 comment:

Rachel said...

That Picasso quote is one that my dad wrote to me a long time ago - and has always been one of my favorites! Thanks for bringing it to mind :)