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Midwest Traveler: Hands-on experiences in Duluth

By: Lisa Meyers McClintick , Special to the Star Tribune | June 4, 2016

The molten blob requires constant attention, methodical twirling.

â€"Always keep it spinning,” says Dan Neff, owner of downtown Duluth’s Lake Superior Art Glass and the instructor for a pendant-making class. â€"Remember to breathe. Don’t burn yourself. And have fun.”

Wearing protective glasses, we tentatively hold metal rods with clear glass tips under a flame, until the heat turns the glass neon orange. Keeping my tip spinning, I touch a red glass rod to it and watch them swirl together, color disappearing into the molten glow. I tenuously extract the remaining length of red glass rod. It pulls away like radioactive taffy.

In the workshop of this five-year-old gallery, wine glasses with handmade stems and glass icicles on the workbench catch the light. Work from more than 60 mostly regional artists shows the potential of the glass.

Three hours north of the Twin Cities, Duluth (and the North Shore it anchors) has inspired artists for decades. Lush and moody photos, vibrant paintings, woodblock cuts of wildlife and whimsical illustrations depicting life in the north have long graced gallery walls downtown and in the Canal Park district.

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