Through the looking glass

Duane Perrett loves glass. He delights in talking about glass, fantasizing about glass and teaching anyone wanting to learn about glass.

Since Perrett works with such a fragile material, I was expecting to meet a man of slight build and equal fragility. When this giant-of-a-man emerged from the doorway of Snow City Glassworks in Whistler, and introduced himself as Duane Perrett, I was amazed.

But then I shook his hand and I understood immediately. His handshake was gentle, even delicate and not what I was expecting from such a large man. But of course, his grip was perfect for an artist who works with glass.

Whether he is etching, fusing or blowing glass, his passion is reflected in every piece he creates.

“I started etching glass fifteen years ago,” says Perrett. “I've been fusing glass for eight years and blowing glass for seven years.”

The three-legged bowl on display, called 'Out of This World', incorporates blowing and fusing glass.

“I love to use different techniques rather than just the one,” he adds.

Perrett continues to seek new ways of eliciting the natural beauty of this fascinating material.

“For glass to be elastic enough to blow, it must in the range of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit,” he says. “With twenty layers of wet newspaper over my hand, I can actually touch the ball of molten glass at the end of the blow-tube. And with the slightest movement of a finger, I can change the shape of the piece I'm making. It's an exhilarating experience, and the smell of burning newspaper never ceases to excite me!”

Duane Perrett's studio is at 1005 Alpha Lake Road, Whistler. He loves to teach and offers classes in glass fusing and etching which start at $25, and in glass blowing, which runs for four hours at $100 per student. His works will be on display at the Squamish Public Library Foyer Gallery this month.

600450 Through the looking glass
Date: 9 January 2006

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