Behind the counter at Martha’s Vineyard Glassworks, a barn like building set back behind a house on State Road in North Tisbury, there is a 2,000-degree Fahrenheit fire burning in at least one of the two gas-fired ovens that are used to turn glass into a molten state. During the summer season, the fires burn 24 hours a day.
Visitors can watch while shapeless blobs of glass are worked into decorative balls, elegant wine glasses, colorful platters, bowls, and vases and unusual pieces of art that defy easy description but that can easily spark the imagination.
A two-story gallery displays, for sale, the end result of the labor-intensive work of blowing and shaping the glass. The cost of finished pieces ranges from under $50 to thousands of dollars.
Co-owner Mark Weiner, a summer resident of West Tisbury, started the business with two fellow Cambridge glassblowers and Chilmark summer residents, Andrew Magdanz and his wife, Susan Shapiro, in 1992. Mr. Weiner’s wife, Michiko Maekawa, also works in glass and brings a Japanese sensibility and a fluidity to her craft. The owners display their work at the studio along with the work of guest artists.
“This is not an easy job,” Mr. Weiner said in an interview last year with The Times. “For me, it’s like milking cows; it never stops. You can’t stop in the middle of blowing glass.” He said the mission of the Glassworks is as much about education as it is about sales, teaching the public about glass’s physical characteristics, about good design.
M.V. Glassworks has developed a reputation for high-quality original designs and is a popular destination for glassworkers, tourists, artists, interior decorators, and collectors. Visiting artists have the opportunity to develop valuable technical production skills in a creative environment.
All of the glass in the studio is handmade. Each piece is individually hand blown without the use of finishing molds to achieve shape.
M.V. Glassworks is located at 683 State Rd. in West Tisbury. The gallery is open 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week, in season. For more information, call 508-693-6026 or visit mvglassworks.com.