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Light Up Your Life with a Touch of Glass

Playing with earth, wind and fire, glassblowers are using a centuries-old art to craft contemporary home décor. Hand-blown items, from lamps to vases and goblets to bowls add a touch of glass to today's interior design.

What makes hand-blown glass a wonderful decorating element is the one-of-a-kind quality, says Ginger Lawrence of Ginger Lawrence Interiors in Grants Pass. "Pieces will be admired for their individuality, and a room for its beauty," she says.

Table settings with custom-made pieces like $80 glass goblets may seem expensive, she says. "But they make a table absolutely beautiful. It's just truly gorgeous because each piece is different, unique."

Hand-blown glass pieces are sculpted by fire. Despite precision timing and a centuries-old recipe, no two pieces are alike. The unforgiving temperatures and mysterious blend of colors produce a real glass act that cannot be replicated.

"The style (of each piece) cannot be copied," she says. "If you want to be an individualist, using hand-blown glass in your décor is the way to go."

A new trend in glass-blowing studios is the design and production of hand-blown lamps.

Hand-blown glass lighting fixtures are a blend of aesthetics and function. These lamps are "art" that can hang from the ceiling or on a wall, or be displayed on a table.

Chandeliers, sconces, torchieres, table lamps, and pendant and drop lighting are all popular forms of glass art, and many homeowners, restaurateurs and hoteliers are lighting up their lives with commissioned pieces.

Each type creates a different ambience. Pendant lamps suspended from the ceiling add warmth. The diffused light of torchieres, or floor lamps, and sconces creates an intimate glow and table lamps are functional, but elegant.

If you are considering hand-blown glass lighting, Louis Colosimo of Red Oak Glass in Central Point recommends sitting down with an artist and "chatting about placement and function of the piece, and the desired ambience for a room."

"Is it calm or jazzy?" is one of his favorite questions to clients.

"You could look through a catalog, and maybe find the lines and shapes you want," Colosimo says. "But, if you bring in wallpaper samples, pieces of moulding, or even countertop color chips, the artist will feel the rhythm and flow of the room."

To keep up on current trends in interior design and home furnishings, Colosimo visits local furniture stores. Prospective customers can benefit from such excursions too, he adds.

"In the beginning, we were creating pieces with hot, bright colors we liked," he says. "When you visit furniture stores, you can see that the current trend is more muted; brick red versus fire engine red. Sage versus chartreuse green."

Lee Wassink of The Glass Forge Gallery and Studio in Grants Pass agrees that earth tones seem to have replaced the bold blues and purples and fiery reds that were once his studio's signature colors. However, he cautions clients about jumping on the latest trends.

"The piece should reflect a client's interests, not the latest trends," he says. "And, it should fit his or her situation. Remember, you have to look at it every day."

Keith Gabor of Gathering Glass Studio in Ashland encourages clients to bring in fabric samples of the furniture or window dressings that share the room with the lamps.

"It's a process to achieve and satisfy the design ideas or image that a client has for a room," he adds.

That process often includes a walk through the shop to peruse store displays and view the play of color and light within the lamps.

"An unlit lamp will not look exactly the same as it does lit," Gabor adds. "And, the color of the light bulb is important too. Do you want a yellow hue or a blue tone?"

"The lamp is a vessel for the light," he says. And, the glass-blower illuminates the homeowner's vision," says Wassink.

Light Up Your Life with a Touch of Glass