"I really like to talk about the glass blowing process. It's something I enjoy doing, and I love to share about it," he said with an eager smile.
Dustin was in the midst of describing a few of the intricacies involved in glass art. For example, the medium requires working with 2,500-degree temperatures.
I met Dustin Sweirs and Shayna Tietje at their booth during Thursdays on First. Dustin is a glass artist, and Shayna creates wire wrapped jewelry. On one side of the booth, many shapes and colors of glass medallions radiated against the black backdrops onto which they were hooked. Necklaces and earrings made of various shades of wire and stone filled the other side.
I'd been waiting all summer for a chance to go to Thursdays on First, and last week I was able to attend with my friend Lisa for the event's final installment of the season. As we explored Dustin and Shayna's booth, I was inspired and deeply comforted by their creative spirits. It only took about a half-second of being in their presence to recognize their authenticity.
Scanning the rows of Shayna's creations, I noticed that the tree is a common image in her pieces. She wraps the tiny pieces of wire over and over to form delicate, detailed designs. "The roots and the branches are my favorite parts to create. Each piece is different," she shared.
We are fortunate to have opportunities like Thursdays on First in our community. They are chances not only to eat delicious food and listen to great music, but also to connect directly with local artists.
There was a moment last Thursday when, standing outside Denise Grundler's booth of handcrafted soaps and lotions, I was struck with the obvious, "She made all of this." They weren't just some random objects on random shelves in a random store. These were items she had mixed together, shaped, and molded, made of ingredients she had carefully chosen. Holding a bar of tropical smelling soap lined with shades of pink and green, I was suddenly in total awe of the rows and rows of artists sharing their work.
What a gift to have access to so many people's creations. What courage and vulnerability it takes to make something and then put it on display for others to see!
I initially wanted to go to Thursdays on First to check off a long-awaited item from my summer bucket list. But as is often the case in life, the experience was a greater gift than I had originally anticipated.
Being around all those artists made me wonder what it says in the Bible about the creative process. I stumbled across a fascinating chapter in Exodus 35 in which the Israelite community comes together to build a tabernacle. Those who were skilled with a great variety of abilities were invited to come and participate. They brought wood, metals, gems, and weavings of different fabrics. It was a collaborative endeavor that required a collective effort in order for it to be completed.
In verses 21-22, the text describes that all who were willing and "whose hearts moved them" came and helped.
It is a lovely image. A community coming together, each person with his or her own abilities and available materials, to build something sacred. And how fascinating that God envisioned that it not be a one-person job. The only requirement: a willingness to help as shown through a feeling in the heart.
Artistry takes many forms. Whether you're blowing glass, wire-wrapping roots, shaping a mold of soap, formulating a meeting agenda, packing your son's lunchbox, participating in a Destination Medical Center roundtable discussion, or cooking at a new downtown restaurant, you're part of a bigger picture. Every person in our community matters, and it is a creative joy to watch our individual contributions continually coming together in new ways.