Original Source: Days Out Ontario
Hanscomb Glass in Elora: Celebrating Northern Light
Hanscomb Glass is found in the picturesque Elora, housed in a yellow clapboard century home. The retail store displays dozens of small glass works, mirrors, fused and slumped bowls, jewelry, and flame-worked ornaments to name a few. In a similarly bright workspace behind the store counter, several projects are in different stages of completion. A drawing of a new commission is taped to the wall, while on a work table, pieces of glass are positioned on a drawing like puzzle pieces waiting to be fused into one piece.
In keeping with current trends in glass and architecture, Neil’s commissioned pieces are created from uncoloured transparent glass; it is the leading between the pieces of glass that creates shapes and patterns. The glass itself can be cut, broken to leave a three-dimensional texture, or ornamented with metal.
When creating a piece, Neil envisions how the light and colour from the natural surroundings will be visible through the glass and change throughout the year. “I am inspired by the power of colour and light, and glass is the only art form that deals with transmitted, ambient light. This solar light changes constantly throughout the day and throughout the season so there’s a complexity there,” Neil says. “I see glass as a filter for light passing through it that can be used to create a dynamic environment.”
“I see myself as a problem solver,” Neil says. “Many of my clients come to me with a privacy issue – their neighbours can see into their home easily – or there’s rampant light from a certain direction or at a particular time of year.”
In these cases, colour or more opaque glass is an important part of creating an artistic solution to a practical challenge. However, you won’t find butterflies, florals, and sunsets – traditional glass art standbys.
“I don’t do fleeting. A sunset is only there for a short time, it doesn’t last. A butterfly is just explication, not implication,” Neil explains.
“And the most successful pieces include commentary and a message that are interpreted differently by each person, each time they look at it.”
Neil also uses this studio to complete parts of his church stained glass restoration work. There is a sharp contrast between the modern creations he installs in people’s homes and the colourful iconography found in this traditional stained glass.
And there’s more demand than ever for a skilled artisan like Neil who has expertise in both glass and woodworking – in fact, he’s looking to take on additional staff to meet the needs of southwestern Ontario churches.
Hanscomb Glass is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm, January through April. From April to December, the store is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sunday and holidays 11am to 5pm. If you want to discuss a specific commission with Neil, contact the studio to make an appointment.