Meet JANAN TALAFER
Janan Talafer is an award-winning freelance writer with many years of experience covering health care, business and lifestyle issues. She especially enjoys writing about the joys of living and gardening in beautiful Tampa Bay, Florida. One of the highlights of her career was flying with MacDill's 91st Air Refueling Squadron to fill up the tank of a Thunderbird in mid-air.
Duncan McClellan's Visions in Glass
There is something magical about watching the fluid movement of molten liquid glass as it transforms into a vase or a sculpture or a globe. There's the beauty and suspense of the unfolding drama, the danger factor of the intensely hot fire and the alchemy of taking separate raw elements and transforming them into something else entirely.
Duncan McClellan, an award-winning Tampa Bay glass artist, was hooked the first time he saw glass being blown at age five. Decades later, he finally tried it himself at a studio in Ybor City. That was 25 years ago—a time when there were no more than three or four hot shops in the state, he says.
Since then, the field has exploded with interest and the medium has matured. "It's not just about the blown piece any more," Duncan says. "Now it's all about content. Content and personal expression are what makes art, art."
These days, Duncan finds he is less interested in producing what he calls a blank—a formed glass piece, similar to the painter's blank canvas. Instead he is much more excited by the prospect of using both overlay and graal techniques, then sandblasting and carving away to create a piece that has multiple layers, both in the physical sense as well as metaphorically.
The result is art that is highly imaginative, intricately detailed and filled with color and images, both on the inside and out. Each piece seems to glow with an inner light.
Much of Duncan's work captures his love of nature and gardening and everything green. Gorgeous stylistic sunflowers, the lushness of Costa Rican jungles, dragonflies and whimsical monkeys are frequent subjects.
But there are other pieces that are tongue-in-cheek or poke fun at himself. Some are a riff on things that irritate him. "Theft," for example, has a giant devil that appears to be running away with the vase. There are also references to various politicians, insurance companies, banks, credit card companies and a relative or two who have upset him.
A visit to this amazing glass artist's new studio in downtown St. Petersburg is quite an experience. Duncan has taken a run-down former tomato packing plant and transformed it into a showpiece of creativity—a unique venue that allows him to live and work on-site. "Not much of a commute," he quips.
There's a large gallery space for his art, as well as other glass artists, sculptors and painters from around the world. There are also two kitchens and a big bar for stirring up a batch of specialty cocktails, perfect for indulging in his love for entertaining. He hosts monthly fundraisers for local charities, events that can draw crowds of several hundred people.
Outside, there are decks all around filled with glass sculptures and a half-acre planted with more than 30 exotic tropical fruit trees and bushes—mangoes, lychees, figs, citrus, avocado, pomegranate, Surinam cherry, plus more to come. In the future he envisions a large on-site hot shop and glass blowing demonstration area with a rooftop vegetable garden. "Gardening is my passion," says Duncan. "Glass is my vocation."dmglass.com