At first glance, it might seem as if the Newport Art Museum has chosen to display several vibrant floral and plant arrangements as one of its summer exhibitions. Look more closely, however, and you will see that these blossoms and leaves are in fact crafted from colored glass that has been delicately shaped into exquisite tendrils and petals.
Though the exhibit is titled Nature Studies in Glass, a scientific-sounding name, the hand-blown glassworks it contains are sheer artistry – the creative offspring of husband and wife glassmaking duo Jennifer and David Clancy.
The Clancys have their own local studio where they cultivate their creations and also conduct public tours and demonstrations: the Clancy Designs Glass Studio in Jamestown, located in a renovated 1787 early American-style post and beam barn.
Jennifer and David have resided in Jamestown for 18 years and have been blowing glass together for more than 16 of them; David originally trained as a production glassblower and Jennifer studied glass casting. Their collaborative foray in nature studies started eight years ago, inspired by specimens cultivated on their own property; both husband and wife are avid gardeners, sharing three flower gardens and two vegetable gardens. Many of these plants have served as actual models for their glass creations, while other more tropical flora do not thrive in a New England climate and must be sourced elsewhere.
“We take the physical plants and study them to determine their shapes and how they are structured,” says David. “From there, the process is all trial and error; it’s like creating a sketch, except with glass. We usually use clear glass to start, so as not to waste color, and it takes about two or three days to figure out how to make the shape. Next, we figure out the color palette. Once we have both of those down, then we start constructing the actual plant.”
The gallery opening for Nature Studies in Glass was held at the museum on May 29 and drew in a huge crowd. The exhibit will remain in place throughout the summer, until September 7. Those who wish to learn more about the glassmaking process or see additional work by the Clancys can witness their meticulous craftmanship firsthand at their Jamestown studio, where they make art Mondays through Fridays (and sometimes on weekends).
Three other Jamestown artists are also exhibiting at the Newport Art Museum at the same time as the Clancys: printmaker Peter Marcus, photographer Roger Birn and sculptor Janet Prip. Together, the artists host occasional group studio tours in Jamestown as part of the Jamestown Alliance for Artist Sustainability. The next tour will be happening on Saturday, August 1. Those interested in attending can email email@example.com for more information.
Jennifer and David also participate in major craft shows along the East Coast, and much of their stunning work is available for purchase, with the goal of providing customers with “unique pieces for their homes that will transform their everyday spaces and daily rituals.” They make an array of functional pieces like colorful bowls and drinkware, while other creations are more decorative, including centerpieces and ornaments.
Nature Studies in Glass
Now through September 7 76 Bellevue Avenue
382 North Main Road