Issaquah artbyfire creates glowing hearts to benefit Japanese children

March 17, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Glassblower Lenoard Whitfield holds one of the glass hearts up to a display spotlight to show the color swirls and bubbles. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 4:30 p.m. March 17, 2011

Many people have reached out to Japan following its devastating earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.

“Our hearts go out to them because it’s horrible,” artbyfire owner Renee Pound said.

In light of the tragedies, two artbyfire glassblowers donated eight hours of their time to create 75 clear glass hearts infused with color.

Each heart will sell for $28, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Save the Children, a nonprofit organization that provides food, medical care and education for children through long-term recovery programs.

Save the Children uses 90 percent of its expenditures to pay for program services, a number that impressed Pound, who found that other nonprofits spend more of their money on overhead costs.

The hearts will be on sale until they sell out at artbyfire, 195 Front St. N. Orders can also be placed by phone at 996-8867.

The glassblowers will make more if they are a popular item, Pound said.

Lenoard Whitfield (left) and Geoff Pursel, glassblowers at artbyfire, hold several of the glass hearts as more from their first batch cool in a kiln. Photo by Greg Farrar

Glassblowers Lenoard Whitfield and Geoff Pursel explained the process. They began the project with clear glass and then added recycled colored glass to each heart, using hand tools to perfect the shape. Like a sandwich, they added more clear glass to the top of each heart and then torched the back to melt away the sharp edges.

Whitfield described their work as “ethereal purples, cerulean blues and emerald greens.”

This is the second time in the past decade that artbyfire raised awareness about a disaster.

Following the Sept. 11 attacks, glassblowers crafted floats — hollow glass balls — stamped with the inscription “Never Forget 9-11.” Artbyfire staff left the floats in public places, encouraging people to take them for free.

“Hopefully the whole point was for people to think and reflect and remember,” Pound said.

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