Ed Pennebaker is a multi talented artist. Not only does he earn a living creating beautiful glass work, his talents are evident in most everything he does.
Pennebaker lives on a mountaintop. The grounds surrounding his home and studio are immaculately groomed. Simple touches, such as a garden gate woven from vines and branches and adorned with whimsical bobbles, make visitors feel they have entered an enchanted land. Everywhere you look, there are creative touches to enhance the natural beauty of the land. Pennebaker's handbuilt home is an expression of love. He lavished his attention on every detail, from round glass panes inset into kitchen cupboards, to the branch and vine railings leading to an upstairs sanctuary. Even the shingle roof on his home displays a combination of colors laid out in pleasing patterns to welcome the weary eye. Paintings, silk screen images, and full-blown framed photographs liven the walls of home and studio.

All are Pennebaker originals. His artistic expressions are everywhere. A seemingly simple and quiet man, Pennebaker is modest about his accomplishments. In 1993, he was honored to be included in the "White House Collection of American Crafts". His glass work was part of a collection selected for exhibition at the White House. The collection has since traveled to the Smithsonian Institution and other museums nationwide. He was also named on of Early American Homes magazine's "Best Traditional Craftsmen" for his work with traditional tools and techniques of Early America. Pennebaker has retained this honor for the past eleven years.

As a child, Pennebaker loved to draw. He expanded his skills to include air brush designs and oil and paper creations. Photography followed and his artistic talents knew no boundary.

Pennebaker earned a Masters Degree in Art at Emporia State University in Kansas majoring in printmaking with an emphasis on silk screen design. It wasn't until he was involved with an "Artist-in-the-Schools" program that Pennebaker learned glass work. "I began making glass with the high school art instructor in Liberal, Kansas in 1980", Pennebaker said. "It began as a past time since he only ran the furnace during winter weekends. But it got me interested and I chanced upon a job in Ohio at a historic village that I visited while on a motorcycle trip in 1983." The historical influence from Ohio is evident in his work. Some of the designs are derived from American glass of the early 1800's. Items like flasks, bottles, candlesticks, ornaments and vases show a very traditional style

"My work has improved over the years," Pennebaker said. "I offer some pieces with more sophisticated designs and add a few new pieces each year." Just recently, Pennebaker created a new type of oil lamp that features a custom made wick holder, unlike any other.

Pennebaker works year round in his studio. "I stay home in the winter to build up inventory. The furnacegets shut down in the summer but I still have plenty of other work to do." Packing orders, rebuilding equipment, organizing materials, an thousands of other thankless tasks get accomplished during this time. Pennebaker prefers to say he's a "glassmaker" instead of a "glassblower". The term glassblower has been used and misused so much that it carries very little specific meaning. "Most people associate the term glassblower with a person who melts rods of premade glass to form items working at a torch," he explained. "The specific title for that type of glassworker is 'lampworker'. Lampworking is a glass technique that is very different from what I do. It requires a different set of skills." Most of Pennebaker's products are made by gathering molten glass out of a glass furnace then blowing and shaping it with hand tools. "I start with the raw materials that are melted to make a batch of glass. The materials (a mixture of silica, soda ash, lime and small amounts of other minerals) are melted inside a furnace fired with natural gas. The furnace is similar to a ceramic kiln except that the glass furnace runs constantly at about 1,900 to 2,000 degrees. The temperature is even hotter when a batch of glass is being melted, up to 2,350 degrees." he explained. Pennebaker uses a hollow pipe to blow into and inflate the glass. "But it takes very little air," he said. Most of the work involved is using tools to shape the glass. "I use a set of large tong-like tools called 'jacks' to squeeze and shape the glass and wooden paddles to shape the sides and flatten the bottom." Although the shaping of the glass is a quick process, the preparation and finish time is lengthy. "It takes a full day to shovel the batch ingredients into the furnace and melt them," Pennebaker explained. "Then, each finished piece has to cool slowly in an oven from 1,000 degrees down to room temperature." This cooling is called anealing and takes twelve to fifteen hours.

Much of his work is shipped off to the northeastern part of the United States and sold through museum galleries and gift shops. Wholesale orders make up 80 to 90 percent of his business. He finds the autumn months are the busiest time of the year. "From mid Sepetmber to the first week in December, I am real busy. That's when I get a lot of orders and I'm doing shows."

Pennebaker prefers to attend a few select shows each year to stay in touch with the buying public and draw inspiration from other artists. "It's good to meet other craftspeople and see what they're doing," he explained. "Seeing what colors and items are selling, and learning what people are getting excited about is important."

The shows offer Pennebaker an opportunity to showcase one-of-a-kind contemporary art pieces as well. His "Sun Discs" made with a glass disc and one or more glass droplets, are available along with hanging sculptural "Clusters".

COMMENTS from clients

Download an Informational Slick
.pdf Format (1M file)


More Samples of Ed's work...


Ask the Gallery

A Proud Member of FineCraftNetwork.com

e-mail - 917.737.2784