By Abigail Cukier
It must have been difficult for Kelly Lowe to act surprised when she accepted her 2012 Tourism of Hamilton Award of Excellence.
After all, she had crafted the award about a week earlier.
Lowe, 32, won the Arts Ambassador award, which recognizes a Hamiltonian who has helped generate awareness of Hamilton through their artistic acclaim in entertainment, arts or culture endeavours.
Lowe is a glassblower with a studio on Barton Street near Green Road.
“They sent me the list of names for engraving and she said, ‘we kept it from you as long as we could, congratulations,” Lowe says. “I was so surprised. I was nominated last year too. But there are so many people who are so deserving, I really didn’t think I was going to get it.”
While in high school, Lowe was intrigued when a friend told her about a glassblowing apprenticeship. When scanning the Sheridan College course calendar, she saw a three-year course in glassblowing and decided to sign up.
“From the first time I stood at the furnace, I was hooked. There was no going back,” Lowe said.
She became a professional in 2001, working at different studios. Her mentor was famed Hamilton glass artist Shirley Elford, who died last November. Lowe was her assistant for about seven years.
“When Shirley started giving me some of her award clients, I gained the financial stability to pay rent for my own studio, which was wonderful.”
Now, Lowe says she is getting busier every year and her clients include McMaster University, Hamilton police and Hamilton Health Sciences. She also works on her fine art pieces, including vases, sculptures, ornaments and her Kritters – creatures made by combining the traits of two or more animals to create strange yet adorable new ones – each with their own top hat.
Her work is featured in art galleries, as well as a gallery at her studio, Kelly Lowe Glass.
“I feel very blessed to do what I do for a living and for the support of the community, which allows me to do what I love,” she said.