Sperryville column for March 3

Leif Kvarnes, teen glassblower

Leif Kvarnes, 12, keeps the molten glass moving at Oldway Art Center in Sperryville. Photo by E. Raymond Boc.

“What better way to learn thermodynamics than in glassblowing!” Leif Kvarnes, 12, a seventh-grade student at Hearthstone School, is learning other things from the glassblowing lessons he’s taking from his father, Eric Kvarnes, at Oldway Art Center in Sperryville.

That includes understanding gravity (“If you stop rolling, it drops down and you have to start over again”) and chemical combinations — the mixture needed to make the glass itself.

Like most kids, he likes the fact that he’s doing something that’s making money for him. When Leif was 2 years old he started playing with glass under the close supervision of his parents. With a little help, he made blobs of glass his dad called “doodads.” When he was 4 he didn’t want to make doodads anymore and switched to paperweights instead.

By age 8 he wanted to buy a World War II game and so he increased production to get what he wanted . . . and he did! Four years later, this young man is an artist, an entrepreneur and scientist. He’s now earning money to purchase an iPod Touch and is moving on to make oil lamps and small bowls.

Teens are not known for being calm and patient, but Leif recognizes that he needs to be so to blow glass. “You have to have patience and just wait . . . if it gets cool, it goes bad . . . it’s tricky.” After about 15 seconds of shaping, the glass hardens and he needs to reheat the piece in the 2,300-degree glory hole where it heats until it’s soft enough to shape again. He has to turn the piece so it won’t overheat and start to droop.

“I have to watch my reflexes. If I am turning the blow pipe in the glory hole I have to get it right . . . move quickly, but slowly at different times,” he explained.

His dad says that Leif is now able to “solo” and he doesn’t need to stand by his son all the time.

What’s it like to teach his son? It’s “an honor . . . it does not get better than this.”

Leif’s favorite phase in glassblowing is when the piece is put into the annealer to bring it to the cooling point on its way to being finished. He enjoys the sense of completion.

This determined young man will bring his own style to his work as he expands his skills and uses his own ideas. He still needs to learn what colors to mix to achieve certain effects.

Be sure to stop in to buy his paperweights to support his efforts. And keep going back over the next few years to see what he produces as his talent progresses.

Glassworks Gallery is located at Oldway Art Center, 11774 Lee Hwy. Call the center at 540-987-8474.

Spring openings

Spring will be officially here in just 17 days. The annual showy display of those first purple and yellow croci blooms and daffodils are just a prelude to the excitement of additional openings in Sperryville. The Inn at Mount Vernon Farm, the 1827 historic residence on the Cliff Miller farm, will be opening this spring. Cliff Miller IV is managing the renovation and spearheading the business planning and strategy. Cliff said that the innkeeper he hired, Amanda Gordon, was an obvious choice from the dozens of resumes that he received and reviewed. “She is a natural fit,” he said.

There will be four rooms and one suite for rent at the Inn at Mount Vernon Farm, which is being totally renovated while maintaining the building’s historic integrity.

The Jerome Niessen family will bring us the art studios, restaurant and natural foods co-op at Rappahannock Central on Water Street. The Niessens also operate a vacation rental home at 27 Main St.

Sperryville has a total of eight vacation rentals, according to listings on www.vrbo.com.

We still hope for some of our empty storefronts to fill, but in the meantime Sperryville is alive with the Thornton River Grille/Corner Store/Rudy’s, Longview Gallery, the Knit Wit Yarn Shop, Roy Wheeler Realty (Cheri Woodward), Dexter Lake Club Antiques, High on the Hog BBQ (and seafood), Primitive Blessings, Central Coffee Roasters, Oldway Art Center, Sperryville Emporium, Elmer’s Antiques, Beech Spring Farm, the Hearthstone businesses (spa, insurance, market, Naturopathy), Copper Fox Antiques, Copper Fox Distillery, Burgers N’ Things, Roy’s Orchard and Market, Attic Treasures, Mount Vernon Farm and Waterpenny Farm.

Save these dates

• Texas Hold ’em: Saturday, March 26, 4 to 11 p.m. This is the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department’s charity tournament. To reserve a seat (limited to 120 players) contact Larry Grove 987-8612 or lgrove9577@aol.com.

• Miss Rappahannock Pageant: April 16 at Rappahannock Elementary School starting at 3 p.m. This is an event that benefits the Sperryville Volunteer Rescue Squad.

Yes, Sperryville is a speed trap

A meeting about Sperryville traffic problems was held at the Link on Feb. 18. Sheriff Connie Smith and Maj. Scott Jenkins presented information on current enforcement efforts (see the photo on page 1). Emerging from the discussion was consensus on four items that County Administrator John McCarthy will present to the board of supervisors:

• Encourage the sheriff’s office to conduct speed checks during peak commuting hours
• Evaluate the cost and regulations involving placing stationary signs that track and show driver speed.
• Start the process with VDOT of installing a third stop sign for the traffic heading north on U.S. 522, in front of the Corner Store.
• Request that VDOT paint visible crosswalks at several points across Main Street.

Thanks to all the community members and our public officials who made this a positive and productive meeting. Please remember to Drive 25 in Sperryville.