Ernie Downey, who has created works of art from glass for 41 years, is still fascinated with the process.
"It's just fun," he said. "It's relaxing. It's the ability to make something and see the fruit of your effort."
Downey, 67, of St. Albans creates fine jewelry as well as wind chimes, bowls, vases and paperweights. He also burns images onto plates and repairs items made from stained glass.
It's a hobby and second career of sorts for the Union Carbide retiree who uses his background in chemistry and ability for coming up with his own processes to create masterpieces.
He began working with glass in 1972 when he took an adult education class to learn how to repair a lamp purchased in an antique shop.
He soon was creating stained glass lamps, windows and mirrors. In 2003, Downey became interested in working with glass in a kiln. He now owns four kilns and uses them to produce everything from bowls and wind chimes to magnificent jewelry and plates enhanced with images of photographs, wedding invitations or graduation announcements.
Downey, who has honed his skills through trial and error, keeps careful records of the processes and details so he knows what worked on each kind of glass.
He works out of a garage at his St. Albans home, where he has pieces of glass purchased from throughout the United States to use for his projects.
"Eight or nine years ago, I took a class in fusing glass," he said. "Jewelry and bowls are made by working in a kiln."
Fused glass jewelry includes rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Dichroic glass is used for its multicolored and reflective properties that make it appear to have more than one color when viewed from different angles. Downey puts images on the jewelry such as dragonflies, snowflakes, butterflies or religious symbols.