BRANFORD — On the bank of an backward flat pocketed in Branford’s Hilltop Orchards building, a stained-glass allotment shows a parrot perched on a branch, hardly dabbling its arch over the accept of another. An aerial ablaze glows through its active yellow, dejected and red feathers.
“I got the abstraction from a annual of a parrot in a children’s appearance book and created a three-dimensional ablaze box about it,” said Francis Barkyoumb, 68, as he stood amidst the active ataxia in the assignment amplitude of Bottle Dance Flat on a contempo afternoon.
Earlier this month, the Killingworth citizen opened Bottle Dance Studio, a stained- and fused-glass flat amplitude that will action classes in decrepit bottle and alloyed bottle making, as able-bodied as accessible studios for students.
To apprehend Barkyoumb acquaint it, the stained-glass parrots — and Bottle Dance Studio, for that amount — ability not accept existed if not for the 2008 banking crisis.
In February 2009, Hartford Direct, a Berlin-based business casework abutting founded by Barkyoumb and his brother-in-law in 1988, was affected to abutting the doors of its 250,000-square-foot assembly facility.
“We became allotment of the correction,” he said.
Not continued after, his wife mentioned that an artisan had larboard abaft some black bottle in the basement of the architecture breadth she worked. He put it in his shed. “I ample I’d do article with it,” he said.
Barkyoumb had consistently dabbled in art. “Carving, painting, drawing, you name it,” he said.
Then he saw an advertisement for an developed apprenticeship chic in decrepit glass. He active up. Nobody abroad did. They canceled the class.
Barkyoumb got the name of the artisan teaching the class. It was Vinnie Yannone of Vinnie Vijon Flat in Old Saybrook.
“He offered me three classes for the aforementioned 85 bucks,” he said.
Three classes later, Barkyoumb had collapsed in love. With glass.
“It’s the way it dances, the way the ablaze comes through, how it’s afflicted by the time of day, the weather, the seasons, and anniversary time it changes, it tells a new story,” he said.
He acicular out a decrepit bottle apprehension of a baiter in the advanced window of his studio, the low afternoon sun from East Main Street clarification acclaim aloft its sails. “It’s magic.”
After a assignment active his own consulting firm, Barkyoumb took on a job as a chief annual administrator for the U.S. Postal Service in 2013. “I was alive abounding time and accomplishing bottle evenings and weekends, or whenever I had a additional minute,” he said.
Soon he was acceptable awards for his assignment in art shows, and affairs pieces.
“All of that was absolute accretion for me as an artist,” he said. “I was never in it for the money. I was in it because I aloof admired it.”
He acicular out a blush bowl blind on the wall. “That’s a hand-blown bowl I begin at a flea market,” he said. “I congenital it into a stained-glass piece. I acquisition a lot of actuality at flea markets and tag sales that I repurpose into my three-dimensional art.”
A stained-glass koi angle lay on a assignment table. “That’s from a annual I saw on a boom on the aback of a girl’s accept on the Internet,” he said. “I get afflatus everywhere.”
A little over a year ago, Barkyoumb larboard his position at the Postal Service. As luck would accept it, he’d met Jayne Crowley, who’s acclaimed in the breadth for her artisan stained-glass apology and fabrication.
“She’s a active legend,” he said. “She’s been accomplishing bottle in Branford for activity on 50 years, and we aloof affiliated on the history and activity and approaching of decrepit glass.”
As J.C. Art Glassworks, Crowley active the flat amplitude in the Hilltop Orchards building.
“Her eyes was to accumulate the flat going, so we fabricated an acceding that I’d assignment with her and again I’d booty over the studio,” he said.
Over the aftermost several months, he and Crowley formed on abating the windows at St. Mary’s Church in Clinton. They additionally did six windows for Stony Creek Church.
Crowley, who’s continuing to aftermath pieces in her home studio, said best of the bodies accomplishing apology assignment are “aging out.”
“We charge adolescent bodies advancing up,” she said. “Otherwise, churches will be affected to go to the beyond stained-glass studios out of accompaniment which can be absolutely expensive.”
That said, decrepit bottle is not necessarily a dying art, according to Barkyoumb.
“There’s been a resurgence, and that’s mostly because of the pandemic,” he said. “People were at home and attractive for things to do, so at atomic for the hobbyist, it’s absolutely taken off.”
That’s breadth his classes appear in. “These bodies charge outlets to accumulate learning, they charge outlets of support, and the big claiming forth the bank is there’s absolutely no abode to learn,” he said.
His plan is to action two-day “down-and-dirty” weekend classes and a seven-week alternation of three-hour black classes for beginners. There will additionally be bedfellow advisers and accessible studios alert a ages for acceptance to convenance with accoutrement beneath his supervision.
“I adulation to teach,” he said. “I’ve been teaching my accomplished career in a business environment.”
With decrepit glass, “the way bodies are actuality accomplished absolutely matters,” he said. “That’s why my abecedarian classes are about architecture aplomb in the basics and again the accessible studios are to animate development in the craft.”
His mission, he said: “to accomplish this flat an island of peace, a abode to appear and accumulate aggregate outside, to learn, to abound in the art, because bottle is infinite.”
Glass Dance Flat is amid on 616A East Main St. (Route 1) in the Hilltop Orchards Architecture in Branford. For advice on classes and added offerings, appointment glassdancestudio.com, email [email protected], or alarm 860-614-4816.
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