“It’s about location,” Ferguson said. “I can’t afford to shut down during all of the tourism that takes place in the summer.”
Those who pull off Ohio 163 and step into the creative world of the Ferguson Gallery and Studio, 5890 E. Harbor Road, will find not just one of the most unique cut- and beveled-glass collections in the country, but also traditional canvas paintings, glass jewelry and some three-dimensional paintings that change with the viewer’s movement.
Ferguson’s admiration for glass art grew when, as a Cleveland native, he studied under a man the industry considers a glasscutting legend: Walter Langan.
“He was about 80 years old when I met him,” Ferguson said. “He was one of the few guys in the world in the industry, and he was so skilled at it because he grew up when the United States made the finest cut crystal in the world.”
Ferguson learned many skills from the master artist before Langan died in 1982.
He then continued the Cleveland shop until 1999, when his nautical hobbies brought him and his art to Ottawa County.
His shop has flourished since, but not only because of his boundless creativity. There’s also a lack of competition.
“I don’t know of too many kids studying art who have $50,000 to open an art studio,” Ferguson said.
His talents and continued success in the industry are products of his love of glass. It’s a unique ardor, made all the more obvious when his face lights up at the mere mention of the material.
“(Glass) is the only material in art that you can’t touch,” Ferguson said. “Most people don’t notice glass when they see it every day. It’s unlike any other material and you mostly have to use implements to influence it. You let it sit for a day or so, and then you finally get to see the finished product. It is a very exciting process.”
If you’d like to see the glassmaking process, visit the studio on the weekends — that’s when Ferguson creates his work for the public. He also teaches hands-on glass cutting.
Ferguson’s artworks are in museums throughout the country, including the Toledo Museum of Art and the Renaissance Center in Detroit.
Story by Alex Green