October 17, 2007

Glass pumpkin sale is Oct. 20 in Carbondale

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Art students in the glass program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale started creating for the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch even before farmers of the regular kinds of pumpkins started planting this year's crop.

The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch is just what it sounds like – a pumpkin patch featuring glass renditions of the popular autumn decoration and pie source. From 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, the glass pumpkin patch will be at the Carbondale Town Square. Lovers of art and whimsy and the merely curious may browse the glass pumpkin patch nearly the same way as a regular pumpkin patch, though perhaps a bit more carefully and with less thumping of the product. The glass pumpkins are, of course, for sale. The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch, in its second year at SIUC, is a major fundraiser for the glass department. Prices range from $10 to $250.

"We started making this year's pumpkins last February," Abby Gitlitz, a graduate student in art, said. "All of the students in the glass program have participated in at least two pumpkin work sessions." Gitlitz said three students teamed up per pumpkin, one to gather and color the glass, one to shape the pumpkin and one to make and attach the stem.

Gitlitz brought the concept of a glass pumpkin patch from her experience with four such events at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which held glass pumpkin patch fundraisers in teamwork with those held by the Bay Area Glass Institute (BAGI). Gitlitz credits BAGI with originating the glass pumpkin patches in the San Francisco area in the late 1990s.

Proceeds from last year's glass pumpkin patch, the first one for SIUC, built a new furnace in the glass hot shop on campus. This year, the needs are more general and include buying materials and bringing visiting artists to campus.

"We raise funds to enrich the educational experience in the SIUC glass program," said Jiyong Lee, assistant professor of glass. "The glass pumpkin patch is one of the popular events among glass schools and glass studios for fundraisers and sales. Abby and the graduate students are taking great leadership in this event, and all the students are working very hard."

There are about 20 students in the glass program.