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Visiting Jonathan Winfisky

by on February 7, 2012

Hi, my name is Marta. This is my first semester in Visual Studies. I’ve been interested in glassblowing since I saw a demo at North River Glass a few years ago, where the artists were making beautiful glass orbs similar to the ones we made at Jonathan Winfisky‘s studio. This first field trip really caught my interest and was the perfect introduction to Visual Studies.

Last Tuesday, January 31st, we went for two hours in the morning to visit Winfisky Glass studios for two hours in the morning, to see Jonathan Winfisky’s demonstration and to each make our own glass baubles. He demonstrated several glassblowing techniques, from how to make a glass Easter egg to how to make a glass bowl using centrifugal force.

All through the presentation he told us about his life story. His indecision about his major, the “nomadic” lifestyle he led until he settled down in Western Massachusetts, and how he spent several years as a foreign auto-mechanic all seemed to inform his artwork and his extensive knowledge of his medium. He told us that to make a living as a glassblower, you not only needed a major in glassblowing, but in chemistry, welding, mechanics, economics, ceramics, and many other subjects in order to be able to construct your equipment, understand the different isotopes of glass and how they mix, and actually make a living from your work.

His wife, Leslie, runs the Grow Gallery in Shelburne Falls, where they have figured out how to successfully make a living off of him work. Besides running the gallery , they also have several cabins behind the studio that can house other nomadic artists, two of which were collaborating with him on weekends, making work in preparation for the summer. We ended the day reviewing some of the work these artists had make the previous weekend, such as pumpkins, starfishes, and more glass Easter eggs. Watching a professional artist work in his own studio was very interesting, and I look forward to the field trips yet to come.




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