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Despite decline in industry, local stained glass artist finds success

Tony Serviente doesn’t have a romantic story of having a lifelong passion for glass art, but that hasn’t stopped him from having great success in the industry.

Just over 30 years ago, Serviente was first exposed to the art of working with stained glass, and with the aid of his skills as an electronics technician, he quickly caught on. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.

Today, Serviente owns Serviente Glass Studios in Ithaca, where he and his team build custom glass works for customers all over the country. Some of his customers include the Wynn and Bellagio casinos, as well as various museums, such as the Corning Museum of Glass.

Serviente gets the most gratification from his work when he can use his own creativity to create glass that is aesthetically complex and unique. “What motivates me…,” Serviente said, “is figuring out the answer to a technical challenge and then trying to make that interesting visually.”

Perhaps Serviente’s proudest accomplishment is his innovation in working with warm glass, an art process that involves the molding of glass in a warm kiln. Serviente decided one day to try weaving glass, an idea that he had never seen or even heard of before.

After research at the Corning Museum of Glass, Serviente has yet to find the origin of this method. About a year of experimentation later, he had taught himself how to successfully weave glass. Once he began selling his woven pieces, Serviente noticed more glass artists producing similar glass art, and many artists now specialize in this method.

Serviente has seen a decline in the stained glass industry, but that hasn’t hurt business. Despite this trend, Serviente still gets calls from customers throughout the country, and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon.

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