Working with Glass

Yesterday, a friend and I visited The Vinery*, a glass studio where I learned the delights of designing fused glass objet d’art, for their grand opening at a new location. My friend, Crystal–to whom I assign the credit (or blame, ha-ha!) of introducing me to this wonderful new pastime–was kind enough to provide transportation to Whitewater. Critiquing the ability of other drivers and sharing workplace anecdotes occupied us on the forty-five-minute drive. To our surprise, once we followed Google’s zigzagging and round-about route into town, the place was ridiculously easy to find. 

Stained glass artwork at The Vinery in Whitewater, WI.

We arrived in good time, only a few minutes after they opened their doors. The parking lot was already nearly full. Grumbling about people who insist on driving huge pick-up trucks (echoed by me), Crystal maneuvered her little SUV into the only available parking stall. 

Stained glass art hung in windows adjacent to the entrance. Folks milled around the small retail area taking up the front of the building, no doubt avid as we were to check out the premises. We ambled around the two aisles, examining the tools and accessories for sale. Gorgeous fused glass projects were mounted on the walls and also lined the transparent glass shelves over our heads. 

The studio proper–a large square–featured large worktables and several aisles of glass sheets in myriad colors and patterns. One table was set up for a mosaic pendant project. Neither of us were interested in making jewelry, so we did not sign up for it. Other classes and workshops they offered for stained glass and fused glass were posted on the wall. Crystal and I deliberated over which ones we wanted to take that fit into both our schedules. I hemmed and hawed, torn between the woven basket and the mosaic class. On a whim, we signed up for a fused glass lantern project next month. 

Continuing our perusal, we strolled around the studio, poking our noses into just about everything. A small alcove held large fragments of miscellaneous glass sheets for six dollars per pound. We fingered a few, most drawn to two pieces of clear glass with strands and blotches of green worked inside, studded with niblets in shades of pink and red. The pattern resembled leafy stalks or vines bursting with tiny flower buds. Alas, we walked away and another woman snatched them up by the time we resolved to purchase them. 

A beautiful pattern. Do you think I can recreate this?

Small kilns for molded work lined the perimeter of the room. We examined the contents of one such; several finished projects lay within. A dragonfly and an autumn leaf, among other things. Whoever made the autumn leaf had not poured enough frit into the mold to fill it. However, I still considered it a work of beauty. I was inspired, already making plans to order an octopus mold.

After availing ourselves of some refreshments in the back of the studio, we paid for the fused glass lantern class and filled out three raffle tickets apiece (I’m not sure what the prize is. There’s not much hope I’ll win, but the chances of winning contests you don’t enter is zero).

On the drive back, we discussed the pros and cons of the new location, voicing concerns about its inconvenient distance from Madison and the lack of windows in the studio. I’m hoping the new owners get enough business to stay open. When I consider how infrequently I availed myself of the classes offered while they were in Madison, the forty-five minute drive aside, the new location really makes little difference to me. I will still attend classes there despite the obstacle posed by the commute because I love creating fused glass art. I figure, if one cares enough about an activity, one will find a way to make it work.

*Their website is still under construction, but if you happen to live in Southern Wisconsin or are simply interested in all things glass-related, you can sign up to receive their newsletter.

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