Monday, December 3, 2007
Daryle Lambert - What a Treat! Lotton Glass Open House
Cindy, Joshua and I spent our Saturday visiting the Lotton Glass Gallery & Studio in Crete Illinois for their open house. When we stepped through the door to the gallery, it was hard to take in all the absolutely wonder glass that dazzling on display. WOW! Lotton Glass everywhere! We didn't know where to look first. What a delight to see all this fine glass in one place.
There weren't many people when we got there, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. As I spoke with people that I knew, Cindy was able to meet the staff and take a look around. We spoke with Mary Lotton, Charles' wife, Studio Manager, Jacqueline, daughter Rachel, and Brenna - the Michigan Avenue Gallery Manager.
Going into the studio where the artists create this unique glass was our next order of business. Once we stepped into the studio, it was a whole new experience. All the furnaces were running full blast, and the heat they threw off was certainly welcomed on this icy, cold and windy, Illinois day. Then the crowds started arriving, many of whom, as we later found out, were collectors.
Joshua immediately took up with some of the children, and for the rest of Saturday, I saw very little of him. However, once Charles Lotton began to make a piece, Joshua climbed the steps in the studio to watch and sat there mesmerized until the piece was completed.
Cindy became like a roving reporter and took a lot of pictures. She spoke to all of the glass artists: Charles Lotton, son Daniel Lotton, Jerry Heer, who is Charles' nephew and Scott Bayless, a young artist who first started as assistant to Charles, and the only one who isn't a blood relation to the Lotton family. She noticed that Jeremiah Lotton, Charles' grandson wasn't there and promptly found out that he was home with the flu. David Lotton wasn't there, as he has his own studio, and John Lotton is no longer creating glass and is very successful in another profession.
Cindy had the chance to watch Jerry Heer create a piece early in the morning before most of the crowd arrived. Jerry enjoyed talking while he worked and took special time to share not only what he was doing, but to also answer her questions -- and believe me, she had a zillion questions.
We watched and learned how the their beautiful vases and lamps are made, watched their trademark flowers being formed totally out of molten glass, layer upon layer upon layer, and watched Charles create an amazing piece of irridescent color.
This gracious and hospitable family even had prepared a fabulous home-cooked meal for their guests that was served right there in the studio. We all shared some terrific conversation over lunch before the glass masters resumed their studio work. Charles was so gracious to all his visitors, and spent extra time with Joshua. I will never forget peeking around a corner looking for Joshua and finding him right there beside Charles in heavy conversation with one another.
We watched as Charles created a lamp shade. He would put the piece into the fire, then take it to the table to shape the piece, and immediately back in the furnace it would go. He must have completed this cycle fifty or more times to create his layered designs. Each step in the process requires a close inspection and careful handling with special trade tools to be sure that all the diminutions are perfect. As a last and final step, the hot glass was laid on a wooden mold where the shape of the shade is achieved. Then into the cooler where the temperature is slowly lowered until it can be taken out to be assembled into a beautiful lamp. When Charles finished, the crowd broke out in a thunderous applause.
As we were headed home, fighting our way through an ice storm, Cindy said to me, "I am at a loss for words to adequately describe each artist's mastery of this process. How can you really find the right words to describe taking a lump of molten glass, adding color and form to it and ending up with a piece so magnificent?" She went on to say, "The strength, stamina, and rhythmic pace it requires just to produce one single piece is something to be seen. Daryle, we need to go back and make a video." I think she might be right.
The more I am around this family, the more I am sure that there has never been anyone that has produced Art Glass that can compare with Charles Lotton and his family of artists.
Be certain to make this glass one of your top items to search for in your hunt for Treasure. If you are fortunate enough to buy more than one piece at a time, you might be wise to keep a piece for your own collection.
Wondering who's who in Today's Photos? The first photo is of Charles at work. Next is Charles and Cindy, Joshua and Daniel Lotton, and last is Jerry Heer and Cindy.
Joshua and Cindy took many photos this day, so stay tuned. We'll be running some of them on the website.
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