The glass pumpkin is in season

As summer comes to a close and the colors of fall begin to spread across the forested canopy of Upstate New York, so too does The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) shift its focus from one season to the next. Preparations are underway for the Glass Farmers Market October 2 through 10.

CMoG gaffer George Kennard with a glass pumpkin.

CMoG gaffer George Kennard with a
glass pumpkin.

A staple at the Museum for many years, the Glass Farmers Market brings together the finest locally-made glass pumpkins under one tent, for all to see. Stepping inside you’ll find an arrangement of flowers, straw, hay, wicker, and of course, glass.

For the past year, local glassblowers have been hard at work producing an unrivaled crop of glass pumpkins, of all shapes, sizes, and prices. Using every free minute they can muster, before classes, between shows and even after hours, the pumpkin farmers are tending to their gather.

For one particular CMoG gaffer, the pumpkin trade is a good one. George Kennard has been making glass pumpkins for almost as long as he’s been with the Museum — 15 years. With his own private hot shop at home, George is busy preparing for October’s market as early as the previous November. For three hours each evening, he stokes his furnace and escapes the cold winter nights. These shifts can sometimes yield 50 small, 30 medium, or 15 of his larger pumpkins. And much like actual pumpkins, no two in glass are ever the same.

George has had plenty of practice making glass pumpkins, and Museum visitors get to see his largest pumpkins during a visit in the fall. Watch a video of George creating the world’s largest glass pumpkin at The Corning Museum of Glass:

A master craftsman, George is skilled and meticulous, with an artist’s appreciation for color and design. As well as the more traditional orange pumpkins, George likes to work with a variety of colors. They appear both layered and splashed across the rounded surfaces of each pumpkin, much like a Jackson Pollack painting; a tapestry of blues, purples, and greens, “like confetti,” he says. He knows that people like all colors, he even remembers one year when white was the “must have.” But for this year’s harvest, he has hand selected a very specific palette of fall colors: burnt reds, dark greens and rusty browns, all in addition to the whopping 55 pounds of orange glass purchased.

Producing pumpkins from November through early March, George stockpiles thousands of pieces at his house before personally delivering them to the Museum to be priced, bubble-wrapped, and boxed up.

Glass Farmers MarketAs October approaches, the outdoor market will start to take shape. A large marquee will be set up in the courtyard outside The Shops, and staff will bring the space to life with crates, barrels, woven baskets, and hay bales galore. Flowerpots overflowing with mums will stand beside buckets of glass sunflowers. Old knick knacks, country lanterns and a large wooden wagon complete the scene. Ernie Gibbs, The Shops’ interior designer, will apply the finishing touches for a truly rustic and homey feel. Looking in, the full array of transparent and opaque glass colors will mirror the vibrant colors of the leaves carpeting the ground.

Visitors to the museum will find more than 12,000 pumpkins of every color and size; each comes with a unique stem, some short, some fantastically long and spiraling. Each pumpkin has been hand-crafted by local artisans like George. Baskets of glass apples and acorns bedded in straw round out the assortment of autumn’s seasonal gifts.

Visit The Corning Museum of Glass to see the fruits of George’s labor, and the work of so many talented local glassblowers and Museum staff, who bring the Glass Farmers Market to life year after year.

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