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Artist of the Month - December 2004

Moab Artist knows how to
Make the Most of the Light

By Carrie Switzer

Eric Bjornstad
Handmade ornaments with original silkscreen designs can be – and are – created in one writer’s kitchen just outside of Moab. With over 40 designs and hundreds of window dressings and/or tree ornaments to choose from, Eric Bjornstad will offer these unique gifts for sale at the Moab Winter Arts Festival Saturday, December 4 at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center.

“I use all recycled materials, including window glass from Rick’s Glass that otherwise could not be used,” said Bjornstad, whose first love is guiding and writing. “They’ve done well. It’s my winter livelihood.”
Bjornstad is an accomplished writer and climber, who is currently working on volume V of Rock Climbing Desert Rock, an authoritative guide to hiking and exploring the Colorado Plateau. He runs tours for local adventure outfits and writes in “endless detail” about the canyon country back roads.

“Each book takes two to three years to write,” Bjornstad says.

But during the winter months Bjornstad takes out a card table, desert glass, hydrophoric acid and a squeegee, and sets to work.

“This is desert glass, acid etched on silkscreen,” he says. “Nobody else is doing this. It’s original.”
The pieces are about 3 inches in diameter – but not round. The glass is etched with images of desert plant and wildlife, or native designs. At Christmastime Bjornstad has some holiday designs also available.

The designs are borne from the comfort of bjornstad’s living room. Then he meanders to the kitchen/workshop to begin the acid etching process. Bjornstad said he is able to silkscreen about 100 pieces at a time. He then cuts the corners, and wraps the edges in copper – also recylced. It’s a Tiffany stained glass technique Bjornstad learned long ago, along with many other artist media.

“I’ve done stained glass all my life,” Bjornstad said. “And I’ve always done art.”
Even the hooks are recycled from dynamite detonating wire.

Bjornstad’s home studio graces an impressive collection of needlepoint, basketry, beadwork and woodcarving, in addition to the now-in-demand Desert Glass ornaments.

“My main thing is guide book writing,” Bjornstad insists. “I wrote the original guide to climbing in this area.”
Bjornstad carries brochures of his Desert Glass designs, and information about his guiding services, which is available by calling him at 259-7516. His ornaments are displayed at the Back of Beyond Bookstore, and marketed widely at boutiques throughout the southwest. He credits Castle Valley resident Chris Coffey for coming up with the design for Desert Glass, while he mastered the technique, and has been dong so for 12 years.
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