Glass pumpkins decorate courthouse lawn as fundraiser for studio
Pumpkins laid strewn across the lawn Saturday morning at the Monroe County Courthouse.
Some sat on hay bales. Others rested in the hands of eager buyers admiring the intricately designed pumpkins, all made from glass.
Saturday marked the third annual Great Glass Pumpkin Patch fundraiser. All proceeds from the event will be used to bring a glass studio to Bloomington.
Abby Gitlitz, director of Bloomington Creative Glass Center and founder of the project, said the idea for the pumpkin patch originated at the Bay Area Glass Institute in San Francisco.
“It started in the ’90s,” Gitlitz said. “They did it as their fundraiser. They’re an open-access glass studio.”
Gitlitz was working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a glass blowing instructor.
The head of her department was on the board of directors at MIT. When her department needed a fundraiser, they brought artists from the glass institute to Boston and taught them how to make pumpkins.
“At MIT, our first year, we had 1,200 pumpkins,” Gitlitz said. “I did the pumpkin patch four times there. When I left, I took the pumpkin patch with me.”
Gitlitz started graduate school at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., where she introduced the idea of the pumpkin patch.
“This will be their sixth year making the pumpkins there,” Gitlitz said. “When I graduated from Carbondale and moved back to Bloomington, because I’m a local, I brought it with me here.”
Volunteer Tomas Gregg said pumpkins sold fast at this year’s pumpkin patch.
“This morning when we opened at 10, there were 244 pumpkins,” Gregg said. “In the first hour, we sold 200 of them.”
One by one, other pumpkins were picked up and purchased.
Ranging in price from $25 to $175, the number of pumpkins dwindled to eight by
“We’re pretty pleased,” Gitlitz said. “It’s not as impressive a sight as this morning, but it’s impressive in its sparseness.”
Gitlitz said around 38 volunteers helped with the project.
“There is a core group of about 10 people,” Gitlitz said. “There are a lot of people who just want to try glass blowing. It’s on their bucket list. They come in once, twice, three times. Once they’ve tried it, they can cross it off.”
Gitlitz said they hope to open a glass studio in Bloomington sometime in the future.
“The goal is to have an open-access glass studio here that would offer classes in glass blowing, fusing, casting, essentially anything that can be done with hot glass,” Gitlitz said. “We don’t have anything like that in southern Indiana.”
The glass movement in the United States started 50 years ago, Gitlitz said.
She pointed out it has only been within the last 20 years that universities have started to open glass studios on their campuses.
“I won’t say its standard, but it’s getting closer and closer to standard,” Gitlitz said. “The problem is it’s really equipment intensive. It’s not cheap to open a
Universities throughout Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky have opened glass studios, Gitlitz said. She said IU is an “anomaly.”
“We’re working on it,” Gitlitz said. “We’ve received some grants this year, and we’re hoping it will keep snowballing. This event is getting bigger and bigger.”
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