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home : business : business November 24, 2015

3/26/2013 12:54:00 PM
Glass art studio opens in Sisters
The public can watch Debbie Chinn create her works of art. photo by Jim Cornelius
+ click to enlarge
The public can watch Debbie Chinn create her works of art. photo by Jim Cornelius

+ click to enlarge
By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

Debbie Chinn has been turning glass into art in various forms as a professional for the past 30 years - blown glass, stained glass, etched glass, carving. Since she and her husband, Jerry, moved to Sisters a year-and-a-half ago, she's been working out of her studio at her home.

Now, Chinn is bringing her art to the Sisters community in a most visible way: she and Jerry have opened Vista Bonita Glass Art Studio at 222 W. Hood Ave. in Sisters.

The couple had been traveling between Mexico and Eastern Oregon when they decided to settle in Sisters.

"The support of the arts was the number-one reason we moved here," Debbie said.

They hadn't planned on opening a gallery/studio downtown, but Debbie decided she wanted to engage more fully in the local community. She inquired with Loraine Albertson about putting some of her work at Albertson's boutique Blue Alchemy. Albertson encouraged her to open her own gallery.

"It just kind of manifested out of nowhere, actually" she said. "We decided we'd have the studio here; people could watch, do some classes."

While Debbie creates the art, Jerry runs the business end of their endeavor.

The gallery features Chinn's glass hummingbird feeders, which have proven wildly popular at shows and craft fairs, along with the work of other artists.

"We're looking for consignment artists," Debbie said.

However, Jerry noted, "We're being picky though. It's got to have wow factor; it's got to be unique."

Chinn's studio takes up the back of the premises, where the public can readily watch the artist working at her bench. The process is visually compelling, as fire shapes glass. Chinn acknowledges that the creative spirit sometimes has her turning up the music and dancing. Friends have encouraged her not to tone it down just because people might be watching.

Debbie's first introduction to working with glass was through Lisa Bruce, owner of Millennium Stained Glass. Debbie apprenticed with Bruce to learn the art of stained glass from 1983-1986. What began as a hobby became a passion and a vocation. Moving from two-dimensional pieces to three-dimensional glass work was facilitated by study with Brian Kerkvliet, owner of Gossamer Glass Studio and founder of Inspiration Farm Glass School in Bellingham, Washington, where Debbie attended two or more sessions a year. She also studied in the fine arts at Eastern Oregon University.

In 2009, Debbie attended classes at the Aliento Glass School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to study etching and carving techniques from Ruth Dobbins and air brush paint application techniques from illustrator Brad Goodell, to broaden her skills into new mediums.

In addition to Chinn's flame-worked glass creations, Vista Bonita offers etching, carving, shading and airbrushing on glass panels, glassware, windows, doors, mirrors, trophies, awards, automotive windows and chrome parts. The studio also offers stained-glass art pieces, doors, windows, and collaborative ventures with other mediums.

The Chinns are excited to be part of Sisters' lively arts community.

"We definitely want to be supportive of the arts in this town, and especially the kids and their ability to be creative," Jerry noted.

The couple is fully invested in making a life in Sisters, their travels over.

"We plan to stay here," Debbie said. "We're not moving around anymore. This is home."

For more information contact Vista Bonita at 541-508-9082.

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