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MERMAID PENDANT of pâte de verre, coated with dichroic; 5.4 centimeters high, set with a freshwater pearl. All miniature glass sculptures have an integral loop. Photographs by Robert K. Liu/Ornament.

Gregg Burgard

glass arts



Not until well into the twentieth century did the names of craftspeople become associated with their products. Anonymity had been the norm, as is the case now with most ethnographic craftmakers. Even today, such a situation holds with many jewelry designers, whose labor is credited to the firms or clients they work with or for. This is the situation faced by Gregg Burgard, who has been a jeweler since he was sixteen and has been known for many years to those in the glass bead and ornament community for his ingenious findings for displaying beads and molds for wearable glass. He first learned lampworking from Lewis Wilson, but eventually switched to kiln-worked glass as he wanted to work without influence from other glass artists. Although he studied mechanical engineering and art at New Mexico State University, he has worked in the jewelry industry his entire life. His day job involved every aspect of producing jewelry, from design to manufacture, especially with regard to the sculpting of masters and their casting for manufacturing.

While he now sculpts his original models in hard green wax, his skills were honed from childhood, when he worked in clay, making entire dioramas on a long kitchen counter his father attached to one wall of his bedroom. This large surface became the setting for dioramas with animals, trees or the Old West. At summer jobs during the 1970s, he made Southwest jewelry with Native American jewelers, who kindly coached and mentored him. Burgard remembers taking the bus as a teenager to Rio Grande to buy tools and supplies for the jewelry workshop he set up in the garage with a friend. Decades later, he has just joined that well-known Albuquerque jewelry supply firm, working in the sales and tech support section for rapid prototyping (RP) and CAD. After leaving Shube Manufacturing, where he was for almost two decades the director of product development, Burgard realized that this new technology was the future. He started learning the software necessary for CAD and RP; and his training continues at Rio Grande.



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