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A great job for daydreamers

Glass decanters are among the artist’s most plentiful works.
Contributed photos

By Linda Drollinger
October 2, 2013

HAWLEY, PA — It’s a rare workday in glass cutter Kathy LaTournous’ studio when the air isn’t filled with the sound of big band music or an audio book in the telling. LaTournous says that listening to music or a good story provides a distraction from the physical hardships of her painstaking and repetitive precision work. Her father, Raymond, told her early on during her seven-year apprenticeship with him that glass cutting was a great job for daydreamers—the mind is free to wander while the hands do their work.

Glass cutting is both art and craft. LaTournous explains the process. First she studies her “blank,” the unadorned glass object on which she will cut her design. Next she conceives a design on paper that will highlight and complement the contours of the blank. Then she does a freehand drawing of the design on the blank, using a wax crayon, pen, or stylus dipped in latex paint. And finally, she cuts the design into the blank using a wet stone wheel and lathe. This last step means hours of work hunched over the wheel, holding and turning the blank until the design is uniformly cut into it. These days, hand fatigue limits her work at the stone to four to five hours per day.

LaTournous’ art is entwined with love. Following her apprenticeship with her father, she partnered with him for over 30 years, producing some of the most beautiful original light-cut glass in the world. Hand-drawn botanical patterns, including floral, fern, rye and cattail designs, adorn many of the vases, pitchers, trays and candlesticks for which the father-daughter team is famous. Her father has two sons who also inherited the family’s artistic genes, but LaTournous states with unabashed pride that she is the only one of his three children to follow him into the family business, which traces its glass decorating skills to 18th century France. And she emphasizes that no other aspect of her art has been as satisfying as working beside her father.