Pietrow Designs featured in the news:
I had the opportunity to be interviewed for the Spotlight newspaper (Niskayuna edition) for an article on the Niskayuna HS Craft Show. The paper featured pictures of my studio and my glass work. I was very humbled by the recognition. Here's a link to the article:
PTO, crafters, vendors gear up for annual show
Jennifer Pietrow arranges glass fragments while wearing bracelets she created. Photo: Rebecca Isenhart
By REBECCA ISENHART
NISKAYUNA — Jennifer Pietrow picks up a square of iridescent, patterned glass and holds it up to the bright lamp in her workspace in her Scotia home. She tilts it, demonstrating the difference between reflected, refracted and transmitted light as the glass changes color in a mesmerizing way.
“I’ve always dabbled with art,” she said, examining the fragment.
Pietrow was a math major in college, but took as many drawing, printmaking, and other creative classes as she could. Thirty years ago, she made her first stained glass suncatcher in a class, and her interest in melting, bending, twisting and fusing glass took off.
“Whatever’s [made] out of glass, I’m willing to give it a try,” she said. She even created two stained glass windows for her church, Trinity Presbyterian in Scotia.
Pietrow, formerly a cancer researcher, became a stay-at-home mom with the birth of her son, Kevin, 22 years ago. It was then that her interest in creating jewelry and household objects out of glass changed from social hobby to second career.
The basement of the Pietrow house is now her workshop, and the back corner, where most of her creating takes place, is coated with a fine, glittery layer of glass dust. She sketches, cuts, grinds, and stacks tiny pieces of glass, then fires them in one of her two kilns.
“I love it. I love seeing what comes out,” she said.
Pietrow is one of more than 100 sellers who will fill the hallways and gymnasium of Niskayuna High School on Oct. 25 for the PTO’s annual craft fair. The event is the only fundraiser the organization holds all year, and it historically has been quite successful.
Last year, booth fees, combined with profits from the bake sale and raffle that run simultaneously, netted the PTO more than $9,000.
During the 2013-2014 school year, money from the craft fair enabled “mini-grants” to be awarded for microscopes, engineering equipment, signage for the nurse’s office, videos for foreign language classes, art supplies, and materials for the English department.
“It really goes right back into the school,” PTO activities coordinator Cindy Desso said.
In addition to the mini-grants, the PTO also helps offset the cost of junior prom, senior gala and other senior-year celebrations, as well as a 200-person staff appreciation lunch.
I have a goal every year: I try to exceed the previous year’s earnings,” Desso said. She also organized the craft fair last year, and has been a PTO volunteer somewhere in the district since her son, Evan, was in kindergarten. He’s a junior at NHS now.
Part of her strategy is to mingle with crafters like Pietrow throughout the event. “I go around to each of the crafters and I ask them, ‘How is the event going?’ ” she said. “I think to have that personal connection really makes them want to come back year after year.”
It seems to work. Weeks in advance of the fair, all 110 booths were sold out.
Selling alongside crafters will be vendors, who don’t make their goods from scratch but have something interesting to offer the shoppers. Among them will be the Niskayuna High School Booster Club, selling red-and-white goodies for showing off school spirit.
They’ll sell T-shirts, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, blankets, pajamas, umbrellas, and pretty much anything else that can be stamped with that Niskayuna “N.”
“Whether you are 6 or 65, there’s something you can wear to support the Niskayuna Silver Warriors,” said Josephine Sheehan, a booster club member.
Her son, a junior, plays varsity soccer, but she hopes the money they make at the fair will benefit every sport.
In the past, money raised by the booster club has funded batting cages, safety nets for lacrosse, rebounding machines for basketball, digital timers for the track team, a remote camera for the football team to review films and sound system for all the athletic events.
Sheehan said the club also uses the fair, a major community event, as an opportunity to recruit new members. “It’s very simple and it supports the programs that don’t get covered in the athletic budget,” she said.
Desso, the fair’s organizer, said it’s common to watch new friendships form over the course of the day.
“You can imagine, there’s a lot of hustle and bustle; there’s a lot of laughter,” she said. Even though it’s still October, people start holiday shopping, and the cheer is contagious, she said.
Over at Pietrow’s booth, it’s nearly impossible to resist running a finger over the glossy hills and valleys of her many glass pendants. Luckily, she encourages touching.
“It’s very tactile,” she said.
At shows and fairs, she’s happy to see children and teenagers interacting with her wares.
“They’ll walk along and touch every pin,” Pietrow said. “It’s OK, because it means they’re excited about it.”
Perhaps her attitude is surprising, because glass art is potentially fragile. But Pietrow likes to share her work with kids so much that she sells animal pins and jewelry for $5 and under at elementary schools a few times each year. The puppies and kitties are always a hit with the picture-book crowd.
On the 25th, Pietrow said she’s looking forward to talking with customers she doesn’t usually see at her other 25 or 30 shows throughout the year. Many people who don’t typically frequent craft fairs come by the high school to support the PTO and end up discovering handmade goods like hers, that they may not otherwise have ever seen.
“It’s really interesting to me to see who buys what for whom,” she said.
From rings and bookmarks to Halloween and Christmas-themed pins, there’s a lot to discover — and that’s just at Pietrow’s booth. There are more than a hundred others to explore.
Desso said as a whole, it’s a feel-good event where shoppers can support the district and local creators.
“You want to give back,” she said.
The Niskayuna High School PTO’s annual craft fair will take place Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Niskayuna High School.
Jennifer Pietrow leans over her workstation as she cuts and stacks fragments of colorful glass. Photo: Rebecca Isenhart
Angel pins by Jennifer Pietrow. Photo: Rebecca Isenhart
Jennifer Pietrow’s Halloween-themed charms. Photo: Rebecca Isenhart
An array of glass rings by crafter Jennifer Pietrow await Niskayuna’s annual craft fair. Photo: Rebecca Isenhart