Art glass has become a family affair 

Jeannie Llewellyn is a mom who defers to her teenage son when it comes to glass blowing, an art they both practice.

Both pursue the endeavor at Public Glass, San Francisco’s center for glass art, but only Chris is contributing a piece that will be up for sale at the organization’s annual benefit auction gala called “Artists & Artisans” on Saturday.

“Chris donated one of his vases; I don’t have anything worthy to donate,” says Jeannie, who has collaborated with Chris but agrees that his skill now surpasses hers. “He’s in a totally different class,” creating Venetian-style goblets and more.

Both say they like glass blowing because the process allows them to seemingly magically change the form of material they’re working with. Jeannie describes it as “ephemeral — it’s a fluid that turns into something solid,” while Chris, a senior at Palo Alto High School, calls it “satisfying” and “sort of empowering.”

He wouldn’t mind being a glass artist for a career, and he definitely has opinions on the topic. Of Dale Chihuly, he says, “Back in the day, he was pretty awesome. I’m quite inspired by a lot of his old stuff. Now he hires people to crank out similar things.”

Chris plans to go on to fine art school after graduating high school, but before he does, he and his mother will embark on a year-long around-the-world trip in which they’ll visit glass blowers in Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Turkey, Japan and Europe.

Of course, they’ll also go to Murano, the famed Italian islands near Venice known worldwide for glass making.

They say they’ll be back in the area in time for the 2011 Great Glass Pumpkin Patch at the Palo Alto Art Center. The annual benefit event — featuring workshops, demonstrations and thousands of glass pumpkins for sale — is “a major big deal” attended by the entire Bay Area glass blowing community.

The Llewellyns clearly see glass blowing as a big part of their lives for the long term. Jeannie says, “The
10-year plan is to have our own school.”

Artists & Artisans

Presented by Public Glass

Where: First Unitarian Universalist Church, 1187 Franklin St., San Francisco
When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $40 to $50
Contact: (415) 671-4916;

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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