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GoggleWorks festival connects Berks residents with the arts

Karen McNulty of West Lawn works on her ceramic luminary during a class at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts on Sunday. (MIKE URBAN – READING EAGLE)

There are two types of people who take glassblowing lessons at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in Reading, according to hot glass studio manager Scotty Krenetsky.

The first type sees the lesson as a bucket list item they’ve wanted to try and enjoys finally getting to do so.

The second group falls in love with the glassblowing process and wants to do much more of it, he said.

“You can see that they’re mesmerized,” he said, speaking of how they get excited by the glow of the fire and the shimmer of the glass objects they’re making.

Over the weekend a number of people got to try glassblowing for the first time during the center’s annual arts festival, which it combined with its holiday market, where artists could sell their creations.

Both are annual events but were called off in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GoggleWorks director Levi Landis said the center thought hard about cancelling again this year due to recent COVID variants but decided to go ahead with it while taking health officials’ recommended precautions such as mandatory masks for visitors and artists.

Though some artists did pull out over concerns about the virus, and attendance seemed to be hurt by it, Landis said feedback from the community helped convince the center to hold the event.

“We heard from the community that they needed it,” he said of the festival and holiday market. “They really looked forward to it.”

A number of those who attended said they were happy they did so.

Among them were Kim Solsky of Sinking Spring and her daughter Annie, who both took glassblowing lessons.

Afterwards Kim sounded much like the people Krenetsky described who quickly become enamored with the practice.

“It’s cool,” she said after she and Annie made glass ornaments. “It makes me want to sign up for classes.”

Karen McNulty of West Lawn and Wendy Ferrero of Shillington were also glad they attended, as they enjoyed taking a ceramics lesson from studio manager Ben DeMott.

DeMott said it was an important weekend for the GoggleWorks, not only to give the public a nice holiday event  but to connect them with the arts.

Speaking of his ceramics studio, for example, he said it’s a great place for people to experience material culture.

“It’s so elemental here, with fire and clay and natural materials,” he said. “It’s a real celebration of the world.”

Jivan Deglise Hawkinson, left, makes a Christmas ornament at GoggleWorks Center for the Arts on Sunday with help from hot glass studio manager Scotty Krenitsky. (MIKE URBAN – READING EAGLE)

Source: Berkshire mont

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