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Annual glass festival inspires, bonds local artists

Photo by Annika Chu

A crowd of families and friends looks on curiously as artists Jon Scally and Richard Small of the Bay Area Glass Institute demonstrate the process of making a glass pumpkin. 

They entertain the audience, answering a wide range of questions from adults and kids alike, including which types of glass can have harmful effects on the atmosphere and what flavor of ice cream they would like from the food truck. 

This demonstration is one of the many things that attracted over 5,000 people to Palo Alto’s 27th Annual Great Glass Pumpkin Patch.

Scally, who has been glassblowing for over 20 years, said glass is a wonderful material, which is why he loves being able to talk to people about it.

“You see their excitement, and it just kind of fuels you,” Scally said. “I love sharing that with other people.”

Small said his favorite part about festivals is doing the demos because it sparks so much interest and curiosity.

“I’m hoping that I’m able to inspire (others) to also pursue art,” Small said. “You can do this, and you can make stuff yourself.”

Lucie Ramos, a new artist working on infusion art, which involves heating multiple glass pieces together in a kiln to join them, said she is inspired by all of the other artists’ works and the beauty of the festival. 

She said the festival also helps artists gain more recognition.

“It is big, well-advertised and very established, so it’s really nice for the artists,” Ramos said.

Sarah Corneille, the Executive Director of the Bay Area Glass Institute, said the glass festival exposes the Palo Alto community to local artists who specialize in glass art and connects residents with the local arts community.

“The proceeds on the patch are given to the artist and then split between the Palo Alto Art Center and the Bay Area Glass Institute to help support our foundations and our operations,” Corneille said.

Jackie Browning, a long-time patron of the festival, said attending it has become a personal tradition.

“I put it on my calendar every year,” Browning said. “It’s a fun, unique thing to do — they have pumpkins all set up, there’s so many different artists, different techniques with the glass that you see, the colors and the shapes.”

In addition to the festival being beautiful, customer Lindsay Green likes that it is also family-friendly.

“It’s nice that they encourage kids,” Green said. “Even though it’s all glass pumpkins, they still make room for families, and I think that’s a great way for people to come out and socialize and enjoy all of the beautiful pumpkins.”

Corneille said her favorite part about introducing others to glassblowing is watching the reactions of people who have never seen glassblowing.

“There’s just a rush of excitement, and people are mesmerized by the liquid and hot material,” Corneille said. “Glassblowing and liquid glass is magic.”

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Annika Chu
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