By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Staff members at Community Arts Center of Cambria County recently unveiled the nonprofit’s Glass Fusion Studio.
“We are the only studio in this area offering something like this,” said Angela Godin, executive director of the arts center. “It is very exciting and special to us as an organization to offer a fully functional Glass Fusion Studio. The closest one is located outside of Pittsburgh.”
The arts center’s former darkroom was converted into the new Glass Fusion Studio.
“It was the perfect scenario,” Godin said. “It created a space for the new glass fusion kiln, along with all of the materials. This permitted them to be kept separate from the other divisions of our glass department, such as the stained glass and mosaic items.
“The room is a practical and functional space that was formerly used for storage.”
The arts center has already hosted a handful of glass fusion workshops, giving people who are interested in glassmaking opportunities to make items such as tiles, trivets, ornaments, bowls and jewelry.
“Our first round of workshops was completely full and even had waiting lists,” Godin said. “Individuals have called with interest when our next workshops will be offered.
“It is very exciting to see all our hard work to make this dream become a reality come into being. We hope to continue offering more workshops and classes to accommodate everyone interested.”
Godin added that, when it comes to glass fusion, workshop opportunities seem endless.
“There is such a large realm of diversity that can be created in glass fusion,” she said. “We are only scratching the surface of what we will eventually be able to offer. Through the process of glass fusing, you can make great tiles, trivets, bowls, light shades, jewelry, ornaments, miscellaneous 3-D works of art and more.
“To start, we are focusing on tiles trivets, jewelry and ornament projects. The creative process allows for new opportunities and expansion on our curriculum constantly.”
Instructors for the arts center’s education department have been offering stained glass and mosaic classes for a number of years, and the addition of the Glass Fusion Studio allows for a permanent home for these already established areas, not to mention the creation of a complete Glass Studio Division.
“I am excited beyond words to be a part of this new endeavor,” said Lida Hood, education director for the arts center. “I truly believe this will take our class offerings to a new level.”
Hood is in the process of developing a multi-level curriculum of glass fusion techniques and skill building. Glass art is to be created during workshops or six-week length classes, while specialization on projects and techniques are to be centralized in one-day workshops. Children’s classes and camps are also be offered.
Godin said the studio wouldn’t be complete without the purchase of a new glass kiln and all of the necessary “start-up” supplies the arts center needed. The kiln and supplies were provided by the Robert Waters Economic Development Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies as part of a 2016 fall grant.
The Community Foundation and its donors supported 63 organizations throughout Bedford, Cambria, Indiana, and Somerset counties through that grant, and Community Arts Center received $3,200.
“The Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is proud to support the Community Arts Center of Cambria County through this grant,” said Angie Berzonski, program and communications officer for Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. “In reviewing this project, our Distribution Committee appreciated their efforts to integrate new arts technology and was excited about the opportunities that the glass kiln will provide.”
Godin said she and her staff are thrilled with the possibilities that come with the opening of the new studio.
“We are privileged to be one of the 63 organizations to have received funds,” Godin said. “Our entire staff is excited about the new opportunities for our community and are thrilled to be able to host the first Glass Studio in our region. This new chapter in the community arts center’s history is very exciting.”
For more information about the Glass Fusion Studio, call an arts center staff member at 814-255-6515 or visit www.caccc.org online.
The Community Arts Center of Cambria County is located in Westmont along Menoher Boulevard.
“Glass fusion is something that has been around for a long time, but not every organization or center can offer it,” Godin said. “We are truly blessed to have received a grant from the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. This was able to give us the jump start to offer something new to our community and expand the ways we ‘keep the Arts Alive in Cambria County.’ No matter the age or experience level, we can offer something with glass fusion.
“Because of the unique way fusion works and the different types of ways items can be fused, you never know what your item will look like when it comes out of the kiln. The surprise and joy of this mystery makes very alluring. You could fuse a million pieces of glass and make thousands of different items and not one would ever be the same.”