The delicate art of glassblowing

Former Oceanside resident part of 2011 Quadra Island Arts Tour

Cherie Hemmingsen

If you would like to see a wide range of artists demonstrating their craft, set your sights on Quadra Island this weekend for the ninth annual Artists Studio Tour.

Quadra Island artists have many wonderful things in their backyards and the two day tour is a great way to explore the island and get a glimpse into the secret corners of Quadra where the artists are normally hidden away.

The highlight of the year for many of Quadra’s artists, the event which happens on June 3  and 4  provides an opportunity to visit 25 Island studios where 35 artisans mount special exhibits of their work and give wonderful demonstrations of their craft.

A must see is the hot shop at the I Blew It Glass Studio in beautiful Open Bay, a pleasant 25 minute drive from the ferry terminal.

It’s not surprising the glass artist whose studio overlooks a private secluded bay in the back woods of Quadra Island specializes in creating glass fish.

After all Cherie Hemmingsen was one of the first lifeguards to patrol the beaches in Parksville and Qualicum Beach back in the day.

She grew up in Nanaimo but would spend her summers swimming at their family home on Wall Beach in Nanoose Bay.

Her mother, Annabelle Mahood was a well known quilter in the area and it was her mom’s creative influence, coupled with her love of the ocean that gave Hemmingsen the artistic flare to create colourful sea life out of glass.

She admitted her work isn’t scientifically correct, rather, her fish species are created from the aquarium of her mind.

“I just like fish. I love hanging fish, sitting fish, fish on a garden stake, fish in a net. They are different.”

Hemmingsen’s stunning aquarium seascapes are a colourful showcase of her spirited creations and are on display at some of the Islands gift shops and restaurants.

Glass blowing is something she’s always wanted to do but Hemminsgsen didn’t take up her obsession until after raising her children and then being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

She said she decided to get on with the rest of her life and glass-blowing is the best medicine.

“I have fun. It’s good therapy for me,” she admits.

She also donates the proceeds of her sales to the MS Society.

She said she loves having visitors out to the studio and especially enjoys the oohs and ahs that come from them when they watch the process.

“Most people haven’t seen glass- blowing up close.  It’s spectacular and incredibly fun.”

Tickets for the studio tour are $5 each, children under 12 are free. 

A free brochure and map for a self guided tour can be picked up on the ferry from Campbell River to the Island or go to for more information.

— Brenda Gough is a regular News contributors and lives in Errington.


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