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Bringing out the inner fire of glass

December 8, 2005

The fiery chandelier hanging over the bar at the Black Sheep Pub and Restaurant was created by blown glass and metal sculptor David Gelfand. A glass blower of 20 years, for the past year and a half Gelfand has been combining his blown glass and metal into what he calls &

illuminated sculptures.&

&

When the glass is molten it glows because it&

s so hot,&

says Gelfand, explaining how he got started creating light fixtures from blown glass and metal. When the pieces cool, they would be beautiful but I always wanted to capture the glow.&

Since Gelfand discovered that by lighting the blown glass sculpture from the inside, he could recapture this glow, he&

s created several of these illuminated sculptures, including the one hanging from the ceiling at Evo&

s Coffee Lounge.

While he&

s begun glass blowing a series of vases and enjoys this work as well, he is passionate about expressing through his unique alchemy of metal and glass what he calls the ritual aspects of fire.

&

Fire has many ritual aspects to it,&

explains Gelfand. &

Sitting around a fire has in the past been a place where community gathered and celebrated, and I&

m wanting to bring that aspect back into our lives. I think a lot happens around campfires and drumming. I think there&

s something primordial inside of us that happens around community and fire, some kind of ancestral thing, and it&

s part of Judeo-Christian traditions as well as other traditions.&

Gelfand blows glass at Gathering Glass Studio where he dips the end of a hollow blowpipe through the glory hole into a pool of molten glass in the furnace that has heated the liquid to about 2,140 Fahrenheit degrees. In the summer, the studio can reach 130 Fahrenheit.

— — ARTIST SKETCH — Name: David Gelfand — Age: 37 — Hails From: Westfield, N.J. — Training: Fine art degrees, Franklin Pierce College, New Hampshire. — Niche: Illuminated sculpture — Claim to Fame: At 15 years old, played CBGB&

s famous punk rock — club in NYC with his band. — Inspiration: Nature.

&

I love it, he says, adding in reply, &

Yes, even in the summer.&

At his home metal studio, he hammers and bends the fixtures using an oxyacetylene torch and a forge.

&

My sculpture came about from me wanting to combine beautiful metal sculpture with art glass, and to just have that kind of union,&

says Gelfand.

He says he is largely inspired by nature. Hiking around Lithia Park in the morning before making a piece may inspire petal-like shapes on a light or leaves of gold on a fixture. He says that the imagination he uses in creating a sculpture from molten glass reminds him that &

we imagine our world into being.&

&

I like expressing my imagination,&

Gelfand continues. &

I thrive on constantly breaking down perceived limitations, drawing an idea for a piece and wondering if I can pull it off. Once I do a certain style I want to push my technical ability beyond that and see where my imagination will go.&

Before moving to Ashland four years ago, Gelfand left his New Hampshire home and apprenticed with a couple glass blowers and metal workers around the country, including in Gold Hill, Colo., a town with a population of 150 in the Rockies.

While he enjoyed his mountain cabin and small town life in Colorado, he is especially enthusiastic about Ashland.

&

I love Ashland. I especially love the people. It&

s a great community. Glass Works lets me do work for them in exchange for time to make my work there. Friends who assist me &

glass blowing is a team sport &

learn from me. There&

s just some really cool exchange of energy in Ashland &

133; tons of trades. I&

ve never seen this anywhere else.&

A few of David Gelfand&

s illuminated sculptures can be viewed online at www.davidgelfand.com. He also has a show through January in Eureka, Calif. at the Accident Gallery on Second Street.