And now there’s a forest in their dining room, too.
The 34 glass trees that complete the chandelier over their dining table were handcrafted by Italian glassmith Simone Crestani, and arrived at their home a month before he did, carefully packaged and assembled for their journey across the Atlantic.
On Saturday afternoon, Crestani joined his creations in Bluff City to hang each tree in its new home.
Crestani began glassmaking when he was 15 years old, working in a glass factory in Italy as a summer job. He completed an apprenticeship under glassmith Massimo Lunardon. Now, almost 20 years later, he has stepped out of traditional glassmaking, even coining a new technique called the “Hollow Sculpture” technique.
He has an artist residency at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York — one of five in the world — where he occasionally teaches classes. That’s where he crossed paths with Connie Hamilton, who took one of his glassmaking classes about four years ago.
When she saw Crestani’s chandelier, called “The shadow of the old wood,” Hamilton fell in love, and even remodeled her house’s ceiling in order to accommodate it. Normally, an assistant would come install the piece, but Crestani came in person to install the the chandelier for his friend.
And, of course, for a helping of southern fried chicken.
Since dipping her toes into glassmaking, Hamilton discovered how difficult the craft is. Once heated by a flame, she said, it has to keep moving, otherwise it’s easy to blow a hole in the glass, and keeping the consistency throughout the piece is challenging.
While he doesn’t teach classes very often, Crestani said he likes finding and fueling the passion in other potential glassmakers. He teaches about nine students per year at Corning Museum of Glass, and while he said the difficulty makes it hard for the craft to stick with beginners, he said it’s important to pass the craft on to other artists.
“This is my life, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” he said.
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