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Local entrepreneur ‘dances’ with glass to create art

With heat, skill and experience, glass becomes art at Patterson Glassworks in Mundelein. There owner Peter Patterson and his studio manager Sue Esson mold molten glass—2100 degrees Farenheit--into  color-infused ornaments, paperweights, plates and other fine art. By blowing the hot glass they can also create tumblers, vases, lamp workings and fused items. "Glass has a seductive quality about it,” said Patterson, a glass artist and teacher for more than 30 years.  “It’s difficult to make it do what you want it to do, but once you get it under control, it’s a lot of fun. It’s like dancing.” Patterson and Esson teach others to dance with glass throughout the region. They have taught  courses at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, adult evening classes at Vernon Hills High School and workshops at local art studios. "It becomes addictive," Esson said. Part scientist, part entrepreneur Patterson has also created  glow-in-the dark glass-blown items, with phosphorous contained within to capture the sun’s rays for a brilliance seen at night time. He also embeds cremains into a piece of crafted glass in lieu of an urn. Behind Patterson’s gallery is his studio where several  glass ovens, a new color mixer and various tools are used to create his works.  The molten glass is retrieved on a long, metal wand, rolled, formed, dipped into color, heated again, dried by swinging it like a pendulum and placed to bake for 24 hours.  The process appears complicated when watching for the first time, but Patterson said he's got his art down to a science. Patterson, whose friend owns a glass blowing studio in the same Mundelein business complex off Tower Road,  promotes his livelihood by word of mouth along with sales and  demonstration days. Patterson will host demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the weekend of Jan. 28. For more information, go to www.pattersonglass.com.

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