Glass Act

Artist creates one-of-a-kind pieces at her Eastham studio

Text and photography by Marina Davalos

“She sells seashells,” goes the quote, and Lucy J. Glass personifies it. Her sister elaborates: “In both glass and jewelry, in fantastic forms.”

Lucy Jalbert, aka Lucy J. Glass, makes a living doing what she loves—creating stained and fused glass décor and jewelry, and selling her one-of-a-kind pieces in her home-based shop, Lucy J. Glass Studio, in Eastham.

Jalbert has always loved to create anything with her hands. “I was one of the first girls in high school to take shop instead of home ec!” She fell in love with jewelry making and studied at the (now defunct) Jewelry Institute in Providence, R.I. At her first job at Swank Corporation, an accessories manufacturer, she created molds for mass-produced costume jewelry. Although she learned all aspects of jewelry manufacturing, she preferred making pieces with her own designs.

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In 1990, she moved to the Cape and met her husband two weeks later. She hasn’t looked back since. Jalbert waitressed for a number of years, slowly working her way toward opening her own jewelry business. In the meantime, a neighbor had given her some scraps of glass, thinking she might want to create something out of them. “I didn’t even know how to cut glass then, but I knew how to solder,” says Jalbert. “I ended up making a lamp.”

Glass changed her life. “For an artist just starting out, jewelry materials are often pricey and hard to come by. I started working with glass; I needed art in my life,” she says. She then went back to making jewelry, mixing her knowledge and talent.

IMG_1125Jalbert experimented and discovered different ways to set the glass. In her jewelry designs, she uses precious metal clay, which becomes pure silver upon being fired in a kiln.

Jalbert also designs intricate wall hangings, and jewelry with shells she collects from nearby beaches. (She really does sell seashells by the seashore.) “It’s inspiring that I can go to the beach and use whatever’s around me.”

Her signature glass creations are made with stained and fused glass. Stained glass, she explains, is made up of glass that has been manufactured into sheets of different colors and textures. Jalbert cuts the glass herself and assembles the pieces using the copper foil technique: Each individual piece of glass is wrapped in copper foil, and then the pieces are soldered together and finished off with a polish. Fused glass, in contrast, is made by heating different pieces of glass in a kiln at a high temperature and melted together to become one piece of glass. It can then be “slumped” at a lower temperature, over or into a mold. She creates her lamps through the process of slumping—the glass melts and warps itself over a mold and becomes a wavy lampshade.

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The multi-talented Jalbert is also a skilled gardener. So skilled, in fact, that her hydrangeas will be featured in this year’s Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival in July.

In addition to her own creations, Jalbert features work by other artists in her shop at 480 Massasoit Road in Eastham. She is also part owner of the Coastal Craft Gallery, an artisans’ co-op, at 2 Main St. in Orleans.

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