The one-of-a-kind, handmade glass cuff rested on the slate table, waiting for the right wrist to come along. Its maker, Jayne Persico, was showing her collection of custom bracelets at the Glass Art Studio on Tuesday in anticipation of the coming show.
The 20th annual Glass Craft &Bead Expo is scheduled for March 26-30 at the South Point. Open to the public, the event offers classes and a trade show for the curious, featuring items such as handcrafted beads, stained glass, fused glass and studio items.
“The beads are miniature works of art,” said owner Lee Anne Short as she pointed to her own piece hanging from a necklace.
Close to 1,000 people are expected to take the classes this year, which include the secrets of Patina, jewelry design, weaving glass and electroforming on glass. About 7,000-8,000 artists, studio owners and hobbyists are expected to come to the trade show that brings all the glass arts under one roof. Attendees hail from the U.S., Canada, Russia, China, Japan and South America.
Newcomers are always welcome.
As a glass artist, Persico has been involved with the expo for 15 years, teaching three classes and exhibiting her art pieces this year. She’ll be showing off her purses that feature unique crystal panels (first lady Michelle Obama has one) and her signature glass bracelets.
“It’s really a great show because it is the only art glass show we have in this country now,” Persico said.
Last year 147 exhibitors showed off their wares, and the show has a strong local attendance with showings from local shops such as Glass Art Studio and bead stores around town.
Local high schools, too, get in on the action. When all is said and done, the expo and its exhibitors also donate goods and machinery to the schools rather than ship them back home. The expo gives scholarships to students and art teachers teaching glass art in the schools.
“The glass art community in Las Vegas isn’t very big,” Short said. So it goes that they’re supportive of young talent.
The real focuses of the glass community in the U.S. are the two coasts, said Howard Moore, owner of Las Vegas-based Artistic Lighting Solutions. Portland, Ore., is a major hub and Corning, N.Y., is the other. Both once had major glass art shows that are now defunct.
“The economy tanked and now the Glass Craft &Bead Expo really is the only conference for glass artists,” Moore said.
Fortunately, the opportunities at the upcoming trade show are strong.
Moore added the interest in glass art and its many forms has grown with the ability of hobbyists to take part at home.
Before, the materials and equipment were so expensive and large they mostly required the use of a large studio. Through technology updates, home-based glass art is more attainable.
Entering the world of glass art can range from little to expensive costwise, depending on the route you choose.
Cold glass costs less to work with than warm or hot glass, because the latter involves a kiln or glory hole or renting time at a studio.
Persico said she started with a glass cutter and a pair of pliers and a lot of great ideas, so it offers variety on the level of financial commitment.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.