BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. (WCAX) In Chris Sherwin's Bellows Falls shop, practice and patience makes perfect. "Give me ten years of your life, you can make any of this," Sherwin said.
He uses a technique he learned while living in Chico, California, for seven years. It's called torchwork and it's like painting with glass. "Canes and rods of glass that I melt the tip of and apply each molton bit of glass to be a flower petal, a leaf, a beak, an eyeball," Sherwin said.
He got his start working with glass 25 years ago at Simon Pearce. "I noticed Simon Pearce was hiring glass blowers and I had done that once in college and I'm like, 'I blew glass once,'" Sherwin said.
Today, only about 20 percent of his glass is blown, 80 percent is hand-sculpted. Because of the hand sculpting and touchwork, it takes Sherwin a little more time to produce his pieces. "You can't be too lazy about it, you have to pay attention, but it's intriguing because you're always changing temperature when you're out of the furnace. You have to know when and where to apply that little pressure or pull the tail out, or whatever you're doing," he said.
Sherwin's furnace does use electric power, but thanks to the nearby Bellows Falls dam, nearly his entire shop is run by renewable energy. "Which feels pretty good in a medium which tends to use a lot of fossil fuels," he said.
Seasonal items and animals fuel the bulk of Sherwin Art Glass. He's making some black-capped chickadee's here, but his most popular item is the red, male cardinal, which goes for about $60. "It's the state bird of a number of different states. It's representative of people that have passed on," Sherwin said.
Sherwin Art Glass can be found in 35 galleries across the region and is popping up in galleries across the country as well. "I love the process of taking a raw molton material and making something out of it. I make such a variety of work that it doesn't really matter what I'm doing. I get to play with glass," he said.
Glass gifts by Chris Sherwin, who keeps cool under fire.