Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire

Glass artist still finding new outlets


“As long as people wear shoes and are respectful, I don’t mind guests,” artist Denise Lanuti says. Good thing, since she’s planning top open her new home studio in Fayetteville to the public for the first time on Dec. 8-9.

“I get strong reactions from everyone that walks into my shop,” adds Lanuti, who works in various ways with heated glass. “It’s quite big, for one thing — about 1,700 square feet — and it’s full of big equipment: Kilns, saws, grinders, glass cutting tables, light tables. People are surprised that this work requires so many tools! It requires a lot of explaining; it’s not very common to have the chance to enter a glass shop.”

Courtesy Image
At the open studio show, visitors will see Denise Lanuti’s first glass Christmas ornaments — “it’s been a blast making them!” — along with earrings, barrettes, necklaces, nightlights, beads and dishes.

What Lanuti does wasn’t always so varied — or so complicated. Once upon a time — way back in the 1980s — her wearable art was confined to weaving beads into earrings, pins and barrettes.

“I actually did really well with that small business, and it helped having a supplemental income for household repairs and vacations,” she remembers. Her favorite beads were cut glass from Czechoslovakia, and “when the market dried up and I couldn’t get those beads anymore due to the revolution in Czechoslovakia, I decided to buy a torch and some glass rods from Italy and start experimenting with beadmaking.

“There was no written material at that time about how to make beads, there were no videos. Nothing,” she says. “I melted so much glass trying to figure it out!”

It wasn’t long before Lanuti became well known as a lampwork bead artist, but the strain of sitting at the torch began to tell on her back. “I had to try other ways of working in glass,” she remembers.

“I had made a small fused glass dish out of some millefiori and glass rods that I used in beadmaking, and while doing a trunk show at Crystal Bridges, I was displaying some of my beads in this dish — and a customer wanted to buy the dish. Up until that moment, I really hadn’t considered pursuing fusing. But that’s all the prompting I needed.”

Lanuti remembers the revelation that “glass screams for light to pass through it or play on the surface,” making lighting “by far my favorite dream to pursue.” Moving from their longtime home near Prairie Grove, she and husband Richard “built a really nice house in south Fayetteville, and I was able to install beautiful and unique light fixtures that I designed and created throughout the house. I love the way it turned out. I can’t wait to try more lighting design.”

That doesn’t mean she’s given up her original love for jewelry. Recently, a friend asked her to make some lampwork beads incorporating the cremains of a family member, and “it has really been an honor and a privilege to make such a personal and treasured keepsake. It has meant a great deal to the families involved.”



Lanuti’s Glass

Studio Show

WHEN — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 8 & noon-4 p.m. Dec. 9

WHERE — 623 E. Rock St. in Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO — Email

Categories: Galleries