St. Croix: The Amazing Glass Art of Jan Mitchell-Larsen


In “Uncommon Buy: The Amazing Glass Art of Jan Mitchell-Larsen,” Uncommon Caribbean’s Steve Bennett admires the colorful works of art on glass designed by Jan Mitchell-Larsen. He especially waxes poetic on the way Mitchell-Larsen’s work represents elements of the natural world and cultural details of St. Croix:

Just as you’ll find Sonya’s original Crucian Hook Bracelets on the wrists of most everyone with strong ties to St. Croix, so too will you find colorful works of art like these adorning most every Crucian home. These are the handmade glass art creations of Jan Mitchell-Larsen, and if you ever get to St. Croix and have the chance to visit Jan’s studio, you won’t want to return home without one.

Finding the Mitchell-Larsen Studio is easy – it’s in the heart of the historic downtown Christiansted district just a few paces up from Sonya’s on Company Street. Leaving, however, is another matter as there are just so many wonderful pieces to look at, consider, admire and purchase that one could easily enjoy a couple hours in here without even knowing it.

Jan’s glass art encompasses a wide variety of shapes, bright colors and sizes. Some of it is purely ornamental, like the Christmas ornaments she’s been commissioned to produce for The White House in recent years, or Mocko Jumbies like the one I have hanging in my house. Her plates, trays and clocks, on the other hand, are quite durable and functional in an everyday sense. One thing that all Jan’s pieces have in common, though, is their innate embodiment of St. Croix. Hibiscus flowers, sea turtles, sugar mills, lizards, coconut palms, fish, birds, fruits and tropical insects – all say St. Croix to those of us who grew up there, and all abound in Jan’s art.

[. . .] As she told me, Jan and her husband employ a high-tech water jet machine to make the precise cuts that result in her whimsical pieces. There’s is no ordinary cutting machine. It pushes a whopping 40,000 psi, or enough pressure to cut steel for use in producing airplane and car parts, which is exactly what the machine was originally designed to do. [. . .] Once the shapes are created, Jan adds colors by placing cut glass on each piece by hand. A stencil of whatever pattern Jan wishes to achieve is placed over the shapes and cut glass sprinkled on carefully. Pieces are then placed in large kilns and heated to 1,5000-degrees Fahrenheit, melting the powdered glass into the shape. The result is a unique piece of Caribbean art you simply cannot find anywhere else.

For more on the Mitchell-Larsen Studio, visit Jan and Co. online.

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