HUTTONSVILLE - A local artist - who is offering demonstrations of her technique today - was inspired to learn her trade through the work of a master craftsman.
Amber Carman, owner of Amber's Glass in Huttonsville, said she was watching PBS one night and saw a special on Dale Chihuly and his hotshop. Chihuly, an American glass sculptor, was playing with the glass in the fire.
"The glass was liquid and I thought it was crazy," Carman said. "My boyfriend encouraged me to learn more about glass blowing if that was what I wanted to do. Turns out it was just that."
The Inter-Mountain photos by Beth Christian Broschart
Amber Carman, owner of Amber’s Glass in Huttonsville, works to create a hand-blown glass vase. Carman is offering demonstrations of her craft today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at her studio, adjacent to the Huttonsville Post Office.
Molten glass is dipped into cobalt, aqua and green to color a hand-blown glass vase.
Amber Carman shows three of her hand-made glass bowls. Her shop, Amber’s Glass, is located in Huttonsville next to the Huttonsville Post Office. Today, Amber’s Glass is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will offer demonstrations of glass blowing and Mother’s Day glass gifts including glass ornaments, glass roses, vases, bowls and many other hand-made glass items.
Carman said she went to Dollywood and started doing glass
"It was challenging to learn the technique, especially with people watching everything you were doing," she said. "But I became an apprentice and learned to blow glass. At Dollywood, we made pitchers, vases and bowls."
Carman said while living in Tennessee, she would come to West Virginia for outdoor and winter sports.
"I loved coming here for rock climbing," she said. "It is cold and it snows and it is amazing. I love it here. West Virginia is so beautiful and I want to be here in Huttonsville. I can live here and still market some of my pieces in urban areas."
Carman's shop and studio are located in Huttonsville, adjacent to the Huttonsville Post Office. Today, she is showcasing her craft with glass blowing demonstrations and Mother's Day special pieces. Her shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Amber's Glass offers bowls, ornaments, glass flowers, vases and many other colorful and whimsical pieces.
"Lots of my pieces are functional, but all are very artsy," she said. "Most days my shop is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m."
Carman said she was fortunate to be able to apprentice under Ron Hinkle, owner of Ron Hinkle Glass in Buckhannon.
"I also have my glass items in Artistry on Main in Buckhannon, Tamarack in Beckley, online at wholesalecrafts.com and Talbott Frame Shop in Elkins," she said. "I recently received traveling grants from the Tamarack Foundation and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History to travel to the Glass Art Society Conference in March. I learned lots of new techniques and learned to be more innovative and efficient in my work."
Carman said her favorite part of her craft is creating the colors and playing with the molten glass.
"It is all about the color and having fun," she said. "The greatest thing about my pieces, beside the colors, is knowing that someone made the piece by hand. Art is in the eye of the beholder and it is fun to watch people look through my pieces. Usually the first one they pick up and look at is the one they gravitate back to for purchase."
She said when she works in her shop, she has a plan for each piece before embarking on its creation.
"You have to have a plan for each piece," Carman said. "It all happens so fast, and the fire is set at 2,000 degrees."
To make her beautiful pieces, she first begins with preheated metal pipes - the liquid glass adheres to them. Other items she uses include the glass melting furnace, the reheating furnace and the kiln annealing oven. Annealing is a process of slowly cooling glass to relieve internal stresses after it was formed. Carman said she is fortunate because she is also trained in the art of building and servicing her equipment should it need repair.
"This saves me lots of money," Carman said with a laugh.
Carman grabbed one of her preheated metal pipes, dipped it into the melting furnace and grabbed some of the molten glass. She dipped it into some of the colors, moving back and forth from the reheating furnace. For the piece she made, she used cobalt, aqua and green. Once the amount of color added was to her liking, she shaped the bottle and added more molten glass. She added the neck and, little by little, the vase was formed. After blowing the shape and cutting the vase from the pipe, the vase went into the annealing kiln to cool down slowly overnight.
"I can make 50 ornaments a day, but vases and bowls take longer," Carman said. "One of the greatest things I know is when my friends say they are stressed or upset at work, then they look at some piece I created that is on their desk and it makes them happy again. I also enjoy hearing if a friend is not feeling well, if they have one of my ornaments or other pieces and it makes them feel better and helps them heal. These things make me happy."
Amber's Glass is located at 231 Staunton & Parkersburg Turnpike in Huttonsville. Additional information is available on Facebook at Amber's Glass or by calling 304-704-8392.