The Artisan

The Artisan

Sandra Greenwood is a lampwork artist who uses molten glass to create one-of-a-kind  jewelry pieces from her studio in Dundas, ON. Her natural artistic sensibility has blossomed over time, inspired by family members who were designers, painters, and sculptors.

Page from Sandra Greenwood’s sketch book

“As a kid growing up I thought maybe one day I would be able to draw,” says Sandra, “But it wasn’t until I was a little bit older that I had the patience to sit down and sketch.”

After taking a one day cartooning course at the Dundas Valley School of Art, she started drawing on a more regular basis.

Tragedy struck in 2000 when Sandra was involved in a serious motor vehicle collision.  “They told me to go out and do something that helps take my mind off the pain so I started working with stained glass,” says Sandra. After taking some lessons she eventually started making pieces for family and friends.

In 2008 while away on holidays, Sandra was transfixed by the sight of an artist making beads at a torch, which did not go unnoticed by her husband Bob. “For our anniversary, he got us lessons which we took together,” says Sandra. “It was a weekend long course and after that it was self-taught.”

Lampworking is an ancient art form that started out using the technology of the day namely oil-fueled lamps. Sandra’s modern practice incorporates an oxy-propane torch in her renovated backyard studio.

Sandra Greenwood demonstrates lampwork technique in her studio

She uses the torch to melt colourful glass rods, forming and shaping them into beads around a ceramic coated steel mandrel. Tools are used to make the decorative fine details such as flower petals, and finally the beads are fired in a kiln.

Sandra hand picks glass from the manufacturer. She sources the sterling silver findings that she uses to put together the jewelry pieces including bead caps, covers, clasps, head pins and eye pins from a wholesaler in Toronto. “I like to go hunting for different pieces to go with the glass beads, because they are so unique.”

Frederick the Owl by Sandra Greenwood

Her jewelry designs often begin with a sketch. “Sometimes I will see something in nature that inspires me. A lot of times I do little flower motifs on my glass pieces.”

Inspiration and Influence

Acclaimed Canadian Painter Patterson Ewen was Sandra’s grandfather’s cousin, and he was one of her primary artistic influences. The Art Gallery of Ontario ran a major exhibition of Ewen’s work in 2011, curated by the AGO’s director (Matthew Teitelbaum), who invited family members including Sandra, by then an artist in her own right, to a private showing.

“It was after hours, like that movie Night at the Museum,” says Sandra. “The whole one floor was all Patterson Ewen’s work, and it was absolutely incredible.”

Sandra’s hobby has metamorphosed into her business Touch of Glass.

Elegance Bracelet-Peacock by Sandra Greenwood

She makes bracelets, necklaces, and earrings for sale from her by appointment boutique, and at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas. She also offers on-on-one lampworking lessons, and the studio has rental times available.

Always looking for a new adventure, Sandra is considering expanding her product lines to include interior design elements, with doorknobs, drawer pulls, cabinet handles and such.

For the past 5 years Sandra has participated in the Beyond the Valley Studio Tour, where artisans ‘meet their customers face to face and show them where the alchemy happens’.

The Fall 2018 tour was the weekend of October 13th and 14th, at Touch of Glass, 26 Brock Street South in Dundas. Guest artists included Woodturner Hugh Widdup, and Photographer Paul Simon.

Touch of Glass studio

About the Author

Van Hansen

While Van is Not Allowed to Sing™, he is allowed to write songs and stories. Mostly stories. Published in magazines such as Canadian Aviator, Canadian Geographic, Costco Connection, Photography Monthly, and The Walrus, Van now shares with you the everyday adventures of the People in Your Neighbourhood™. Van is a real estate broker with the full-service boutique brokerage Apex Results Realty Inc. in Burlington, ON.

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