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WV Design Team: Creative culture showcases the lightness of light

Glass loves light and light loves glass. The combination of light and glass together presents infinite possibilities to create dramatic scenarios, which bring out the best qualities of both.

The design duo of Emma Walters and Andrew Shaffer create pieces that blend light and glass to make beautiful and unique fixtures that are true works of art. This dynamic team, in addition to being the designers largely responsible for the renaissance of West Virginia’s acclaimed Blenko Glass, have produced a collection of work that was designed and made by their label A+E, inspired from history, light, geometry and the amorphic.

Since meeting in 2014, both with training as artists and glassmakers, Emma and Andrew have been making and designing handmade glass lighting in various spaces and applications.

Influenced by the glassmaking masters of the past from Scandinavia, Austria and Italy, they hone both their glass blowing and design skills creating new and modern combinations.

They enjoy working with the natural qualities of glass — both in a mold as well as breaking out of the mold — by using only hand-skills, gravity and breath.

While each piece functions as a source of light, there is an affinity for the sculptural and experimental as seen in the glass techniques, forms and optical effects.

Andrew becomes quite animated when describing the process used to create the stunning Lift Lights, and for good reason. It is an action/reaction process. Beginning with a large, blown glass orb he spins and twirls the hot glass using centrifugal force to stretch and form each fixture. This creates a uniquely shaped piece each time.

The ultra-mod Ring Light series, with both single and double rings, is perhaps one of the best showcases of this team’s strong sense of modern design and technical glassmaking skills. These exceptionally crafted pieces can gracefully fill a space, becoming a focal point, and are gallery-quality works of art. These lights, forged from the simplicity of the circle, or “ring,” are design and glassmaking masterpieces.

Equally sculptural are the Orb Lights. These pieces blend the design sensibilities of the atomic age with a contemporary elegance, demanding attention. These lights are truly statement pieces that would enhance any space but are especially well-suited to entryway areas.

Lighting for the home should not be boring but often is. Mass-produced fixtures sold by the tens of thousands in big box stores across the country may provide light but offer little to create the unique, well-curated home many people desire.

Walters and Shaffer are producing a line of lighting fixtures that push beyond mere function and offer the opportunity of art and style to both home and work spaces.

While both are originally from Pennsylvania and met while living in New York, West Virginia is fortunate these two artist/designers now call our state home. It is certainly our pleasure to be able to present Emma and Andrew’s work in our shop which is an opportunity we likely would not have were they not based here.

As we see and hear discussions of attracting and building a creative culture in West Virginia, it is folks just like Emma and Andrew who should be looked at as shining examples of how creativity, talent and dedication to a craft can make a huge difference in our state. Considering those factors only enhances the remarkable sense of modern design they demonstrate with these lighting fixtures and is even more reason to give their work a look.

Chuck and Connie Hamsher are collectors of 20th Century design and owners of The Purple Moon, located in downtown Charleston at 817 Quarrier Street, which specializes in mid-century, industrial and contemporary home furnishings, glass, accessories and art. Follow The Purple Moon on Facebook or visit them on the web at thepurplemoon.com. Chuck and Connie can be contacted at 304-345-0123.

Funerals for Sunday, August 18, 2019

Combs, Amy - 5 p.m., Bible Center Church, Charleston.

Michael, Sherry - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Morrison, Ray - 2 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

Smith, Robert - 3 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Stump. Arleen - 1 p.m., Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.

Wright, Gary - 2 p.m., Preston Funeral Home, Charleston.