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Featured Artist Archive
Paperweight Collectors Association Inc.



Featured Artist Archive > May, 2012

FEATURED ARTIST:
JEFF MENTUCK

Paperweight by Jeff Mentuck
 
Jeff Mentuck
click picture to enlarge
 
click picture to enlarge

Jeff Mentuck began blowing glass over 20 years ago while a student at Franklin Pierce College. Early in his career he was based in Santa Fe, New Mexico as an apprentice in a small studio production environment. Those years of full immersion in the glassmaking process provided a deep and personal understanding of this amazing material and the techniques used to manipulate it.

In the years that followed, Jeff had the good fortune to work with many well known names in glass art before opening his own studio "Marblehead Glassworks" in 2000. It was here that he developed his unique style based on the Venetian method of off-hand glassblowing. He has honed his technique and skills over the course of his twenty year career as a glassblower.

Mentuck works solo, which is uncommon in the furnace glassblowing tradition, and requires precision timing and keen ability. His work has been an evolution, a movement from traditional decorative arts vessels in the Venetian style to more personal and whimsical vessel forms, and finally to the world of paperweights, marbles, and sculptures.  Abstract landscapes, seascapes and brainscapes appear within his paperweights. Traditional elements are often combined in contemporary color schemes where wild expressions of color and emotion are captured within a sphere of glass.  Mentuck draws inspiration from the underlying structures and engineering found in nature and the best efforts of man.  Thin strands of glass spiral in complex patterns like DNA, or the veins of a leaf. Layers and depths confuse the eyes and draw the viewer deeply into the composition.   Three dimensional compositions are designed to evoke an emotional reaction within the viewer.

To quote the artist:

 Hot glass has fully captured my attention and imagination. I have always had an interest in science, art, and fiery danger. I think that's why I was drawn to glassblowing. The glassblowing studio is like an applied physics laboratory that focuses on the forces of heat, gravity, and perseverance. Despite the dramatic flames and physical effort, the most important part of the process is design. It's like a never ending puzzle. I head into the studio and try and arrange all of the pieces together in some pleasing fashion which inevitably leads to a new idea and a new arrangement. Some paths lead to an overwhelming feeling of gratification and success. Some are tumbling dark holes of failure and self doubt! The driving philosophy and goal is to simply make the coolest thing I can make as well as I can make it. If I am able to do that, then I have faith that someone will appreciate my efforts.

In recent years Jeff Mentuck has been the Artist in Residence at the Salem State University Glassworks studio. "Sharing my passion and dedication to glassblowing with students has brought a more thoughtful and artistic sensibility to my work.  Stepping out of the production environment has allowed me to develop my ideas more fully and take the time to realize them."

This example of Jeff Mentuck's paperweights displays fields of bubbles and complex canes floating in what Jeff describes as "an ethereal protoplasm of clear glass". Ideas and experiences are represented by blooms of murrini and sparkles of dichroic, memories and emotions spiral through each other in the form of ribbon and latticino canes.  It is chaotic but perfect, like a snapshot of a busy intersection.

Jeff Mentuck lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife Brett and their family. His paperweights have been shown in galleries throughout the US and can be found in collections worldwide. When not in the glassblowing studio, he can be found with his family on their paddleboards, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. Jeff can be contacted at jeff@marbleheadglassworks.com and more of his work can be seen on his website at http://mentuckglass.com.



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