Art

A Local Artist Practices the Art of Reclamation

Ed McAloon repurposes old glass and metal for his work

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Ed McAloon is as professionally varied as his media. The New Bedford native with a Warren studio is a clerk, an antique dealer, a software engineer, a former designer at an architectural firm, a jewelry designer, a glass and wood artist, a keepsake maker, an animal lover, a half-marathoner who beats out runners half his age, a sailing enthusiast... the list goes on.

He always did his own maintenance on the boats and homes he owned and found that glass, metal and other materials were always around, waiting to be reclaimed and reworked. Once introduced to stained glass in the antiques trade, Ed became motivated to work in this medium. He was then introduced to kiln work, such as slumping and fusing, which gave him other ways to utilize glass in threedimensional forms. He uses shaped or cut stainless steel to slump (shape) glass in the kiln for various projects. “I realized that the steel used to shape the glass could become a frame for the piece, which led to another line of jewelry. With this concept, I also use mostly clear glass, or, on a more limited basis, opaque black glass,” he adds. “Metal is the most challenging material to manipulate for me, but it provides really exciting options for my work. This includes shaping panels, cutting, grinding and welding solid stock, as well as reclaimed pieces.”

Jewelry became his interest after he was motivated to find a use for all the scrap pieces that his stained glass work produced. “It also gave me a line of items that appealed to a wider market at a lower price point,” he says. “While colored, fused glass is created by many artisans, I concentrated on reusing quarter-inch commercial clear glass and attempted to create architectural style designs. Various trials and mistakes in the kiln led to my cluster glass pendant designs.”

His artwork is a reflection of subjects that have been of lifelong interest or concern. “Having lived near the sea for my entire life, I have grown to respect the beauty of it and its creatures, as well as to be concerned for its preservation,” he says. “The effects of the light in this environment are a constant fascination to me, and this is reflected in much of my work. I also strive to express observations about things that occur in the world around me, and continue to investigate materials and methods to make this possible.”

One of his special lines is what he calls “devotional art,” which commemorates people’s pets and beloved animals in glass. “I have always enjoyed the reliable companionship of animals as do many others,” he says. “My designs for these pieces take into account the interaction that the owners had with their animal. They are meant to provide lasting positive memories for the owners.”

His studio is quite spartan; the only standard pieces of furniture are a swiveling stool and three workbenches. One holds kilns as well as related tools and materials. Another has light boxes and supplies used for glass painting. The third is the largest, and is used for glass cutting and stained glass assembly with all related tools. There are also shelf units holding fasteners, tape and small pieces of hardware, hand power tools, sanding supplies and other small tools. A large divided shelf unit holds hundreds of pieces of glass in many colors and textures. There are large shelves on the back wall holding dozens of antique stained glass windows that he owns, waiting for restoration.

He sees things in glass that others cannot. Then, there are those who see things he cannot. “The strangest reaction I have had was when a lady was viewing my clear glass cluster pendants and said that she could see different animals in them. She purchased the ‘elephant,’” he says.

His wife is his best model and salesperson, whose ideas have influenced his jewelry designs. “My wife has been completely supportive of my transition to the art world. She has volunteered for art organizations that provide opportunities for artists like myself to have more opportunities to show our work,” he explains. “She always provides honest feedback and encouragement about my work.” And it looks like her feedback is just the tip of the iceberg, as he has many more pieces to show the world, and much more art to create.

Ed McAloon