Career Center, Village Glass Works partner through art classes

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 | 7:46 p.m. CDT; updated 7:36 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 7, 2010

COLUMBIA – Sparks flew, igniting feelings of creativity at the Village Glass Works’ bead-making class.

The lesson on Saturday, taught by glass artist Kelly Melegrito, was lampworking, which is the process of using flame to melt glass rods around a mandrel in order to make a bead.


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Stained glass pieces and mosaics line the walls of the shop’s main floor, but Village Glass Works provides more than art for sale, said Susie Fiegel, manager and co-owner .

“We sell supplies; we help people solve problems with their various crafts; we find things for them; we instruct them on how to use tools,” Fiegel said. “People walk in off the street, and we teach them how to cut glass on the fly.”

Village Glass Works works in association with the Columbia Area Career Center to provide opportunities for advancing adult education.

“Basically we run the classes, the same classes we ran before we ever were connected to adult education,” Fiegel said. “But we kind of got involved with (the Columbia Area Career Center) so that we could be in their brochure — our classes could appear in the catalog that would appear in 75,000 people’s homes.”

Adult education classes offered at the Columbia Area Career Center are extensive and include a variety of opportunities for creativity, Fiegel said.

People register for the bead-making class through the Career Center, but Village Glass Works provides other opportunities for students to receive individual attention as well.

“If you want to take a class at a time that’s not provided, or have a special event like a mother and three daughters wanting to come in and make jewelry, we can arrange that for you,” Fiegel said.

The importance of creativity

The students, instructor and shop owner agree that opportunities to be creative are beneficial and essential, while some students say they find the lampworking relaxing.

“It takes you to another level because during the week I get too stressed out, but today is a day where I can relax," Reina Drake, a student, said. "I love it.”

Some stress that it might not be the lampworking itself that is a good release, but rather it is the act of going out and doing something creative that is essential.

“I think it’s good for people to have hobbies and be creative and be able to go out and do something, anything, whether it’s doing glass works or taking a sewing class somewhere or just being athletic, offering those opportunities is very important,” said Amy Foster, who attended the bead-working class. 

Others emphasized that the true benefit of creativity runs much deeper than the hobby itself.

“I think creative activity is one of the things that keeps us all sane and happy,” Fiegel said.

Columbia is bursting with opportunity for individuals to express themselves, Melegrito said.

“I think Columbia is a great town for people to be able to be creative, Melegrito said. "There is so much focus on artwork here. It’s all about producing your artwork, getting it out there, showing it to people.”

Fiegel said she sees a lot of potential in Columbia's artistic community.

“In the future I can see the art community just continuing to grow,” Fiegel said. “I hope that art is one of the big draws to Columbia eventually.


Four students stand around unlit torches as Melegrito begins to talk.

“One of the first things that I do go over before we ever start, before I ever turn on the flame, are all the safety elements,” Melegrito said.

Wearing safety goggles is an important safety rule when working with glass.

“Tiny pieces of glass can pop during the process and get into your eyes, so safety goggles are essential,” Melegrito said.

Participants were informed of the risk involved in lampworking.  Students signed a consent form and received a detailed list of safety procedures at the start of the class.

“I decided to learn how to make glass beads, and I started to on my own, but I got afraid of the flame so I decided to take the class here,” Drake said.

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