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Treasure from the Sea

John Yurosko's Handcrafted Lamps Express His Love for Glass

Artist John Yurosko has long been in love with glass. Some of his first memories are of a solid piece of stained glass in his parents’ house where he grew up in Johnstown, Pa. It was on the landing to the second floor, and he passed it many times everyday. It added color and beauty to the heart of his home and left him with warm memories. John’s parents eventually removed the stained glass and had it cut and turned into three lamps to give to him and his siblings, keeping the beloved glass in the family even after the house was sold.

John went on to a storied career as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon here on the southwest coast of Florida, eventually opening offices in Venice, Sarasota and Englewood, and retiring in 2015. Even as he perfected his delicate hand movements and attention to fine surgical details, he never lost his love for glass. On a vacation to Bermuda with his partner, Shirley, 20 years ago, the couple happened upon a deserted beach near the site of an old fort from the 1700s. It was covered with glass from the fort’s refuse dumped into the sea during its active years, including many broken glass bottles, which had been turned into sea glass by decades of wave action.

“I saw all this stuff laying around, all this glass,” John says. “I thought I could do something with it. About 99 percent of sea glass is turned into jewelry. That’s not the idea I had. I collect the odd-shaped pieces, glass with stories to tell. It takes a minimum of 40 years for sea glass to develop its sandblasted patina. Sea glass is a limited resource; it’s very scarce now. People try to get away with using machine-tumbled glass instead. But I believe you must never take a shortcut, never use anything but genuine sea glass. I joined the North American Sea Glass Association because of my belief in that.”

John also works with stained glass and teaches that art at Sarasota Technical College. Ten years ago, he made his first sea glass lamp and has been working with the material ever since.

“I have always appreciated glass,” he says. “It’s hard, it’s soft—it’s actually classified as a fluid. It’s beautiful, and it’s deadly. At one point in my career, I knew I would not be doing dentistry forever. I wanted an art form I could practice until I couldn’t do anything else. With sea glass, each piece tells a tale. You cannot fake the uniqueness of each piece of sea glass. For people who love the water, who are connected to the sea, they love my lamps. And for me personally, I am always looking for that next interesting piece. I know the best is yet to come.” 

941.484.4209. SeaGlassLampsAndMore.com

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