Large, clean, clear glass shapes- some like a flame, a raindrop, a geometric form and nearly whatever one might imagine stand boldly on the spacious exhibit floor of the former Dorflinger Glass Factory cutting shop, refitted as a museum in downtown White Mills.

WHITE MILLS - Large, clean, clear glass shapes- some like a flame, a raindrop, a geometric form and nearly whatever one might imagine stand boldly on the spacious exhibit floor of the former Dorflinger Glass Factory cutting shop, refitted as a museum in downtown White Mills.

The latest display heralds not from the mastery of Christian Dorflinger and his skilled artisans who turned out some of the world’s finest cut glass tableware and other utilitarian objects in the White Mills plant, from 1865 to 1921.

Instead, this exhibit portrays the modern-day artistry of shaping glass for its pure essence of beauty and mystery, done by the skilled hands of Christopher Ries.

These examples of Ries’ handiwork are on special exhibit this summer; a formal opening was held June 23rd, and closes September 4th, Dorflinger Factory Museum Founder and CEO James Asslestine announced.

As a crowd of admirers mingled and studied each glass piece, the artist commented briefly on his work.

He stated that he acquires the large blocks of glass from Schott Optical in Duryea, PA, where he was associated as their non-paid Artist-in-Residence for about 30 years.

Working with them as an independent contractor, he said he brought artistic judgement to the work, labor and machinery, and with Schott, “together made history.”

Ries has a Masters of Fine Art from the University of Wisconsin. The Ohio native founded the glass department at The Ohio State University where he also taught. He opened a glass blowing study in Columbus.

It was in 1979 that Ries made an effort to find the ultimate glass sculpting. In 1986 Ries was offered studio space at Schott Optical.

Deciding what his hands will create from a plain block of glass, he said, is like asking composer how a composition came to be.  “It depends on the way you feel,” he said. “Some of it is impromptu.”

Christopher Ries has produced what is described as the largest whole, unassembled pieces of crystal sculpture known. The work is in many museums and fine art collections around the world.

“We are thrilled to have Christopher Ries’ exhibit here,” Asselstine said. “…His artistry is really remarkable in terms of design and execution of his works. What really impressed us is the glass itself - the technique of cutting, engraving and acid etching are also the techniques used by the Dorflinger companies.”

Asselstine noted that Dorflinger made utilitarian items, “Chris takes it to a while new level.”
Lies was the keynote speaker at the first Dorflinger Glass Symposium, held at the Dorflinger Glass Museum/ Dorflinger Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary about 10 years ago.

Ries will be giving a lecture on his work at the Dorflinger Factory Museum on Saturday, August 11 at 2 p.m. The event is open to the public. The Dorflingner Factory Museum is located on Route 6 (Main Street) at the corner with Elizabeth Street. Parking is in the back.
The Factory Museum also features a large collection of Dorflinger glass and exhibits of actual Dorflinger glass cutting equipment set up like it was when the factory was in operation.

The Factory Museum is open Wednesday- Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $5.00/adult, free for children.

The Factory Museum complements the Dorflinger Glass Museum which is on top the hill (further up Elizabeth Street) in what was partly Christian Dorflinger’s former home on the Sanctuary ground. The Wildflower Music Festival is also held at the Sanctuary through the summer.