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Annual Clay and Glass Festival returns in-person

Iver Hennig displays his pieces to sell. Photo by Margot Blanco
Iver Hennig displays his pieces to sell. Photo by Margot Blanco

The annual Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival returned to the Palo Alto Art Center from Sept. 11-12 after a virtual showing last year. 

The festival featured over 100 juried artists from the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California.

The ACGA was founded in 1945, originally named the Association of San Francisco Potters. It now consists of over 300 members. 

The organization hosted the first Clay and Glass Festival in 1993, marking 2021 as the 28th anniversary. The festival works to provide venues for artists to display and sell their work to the public. 

Iver Hennig, a ceramics teacher at Santa Cruz High School, presented his ceramic sculptures at the festival on Sunday, Sept. 12. Iver said that compared to last year’s virtual festival, selling in person is easier and provides a better experience for both the customers and sellers.

“You can’t sell the work as easily online because it’s so hard to ship,” Iver said. “It’s much easier to sell in person and let people look and feel it.”

Stained glass artist Nancy Zajda said she has presented her work at the festival for over 40 years. 

Zajda said that she also prefers the in-person showing for the connection she makes between her clients. 

“I love talking to people [and] having the light show through the glass,” Zajda said. 

While Zajda’s business is now successful and she is able to fulfill her clients’ wishes, Zajda said it wasn’t always this way. 

In the beginning years of her career, Zajda said she worked in a smaller studio in which she couldn’t store her display of stained glass, so she had to set up the panels all over her house.

Although it was arduous work, she was then able to realize the ever-giving beauty of her art. 

“I got the experience forever, what it’s like to live with the color changes, just to live in the beauty,” Zajda said. “And so I know when somebody either commissions one of these pieces or buys one of these pieces, it’s not just the thing, it’s going to be a living experience for them as the light changes throughout the day.” 

Sculpture by Laurie Hennig. Photo by Margot Blanco

Ceramic artist Laurie Hennig, Iver Hennig’s mother, also presented at the festival. As Zajda works to provide a beautiful experience in her clients’ homes, Laurie said that she aims to spread a message.

“I want to remind people whenever possible about the environment and the creatures that we share the planet with,” Laurie said.

Laurie is based in Boulder Creek, where last year’s wildfires reached a block away from her studio. 

Laurie said that she intends for her art to influence environmental concerns in her community. 

“I think that it speaks for people and it says something for them that they’re feeling in their hearts,” Laurie said.

Agreeing with the other artists, Laurie said that she prefers the in-person showing because she enjoys interacting with the people and the artists. 

“I’m really glad to get out and see some familiar faces of people I know and see the other art,” Laurie said. “I needed to get back and I feel pretty safe.

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