Mark Leputa is an Alabama Maker applying glaciers to glass

Mark Leputa and his art have been all over the world, but he found his ideal home base in Fort Payne. (Karim Shamsi-Basha/Alabama NewsCenter)

Glass artist Mark Leputa lived in New Zealand at one point. He worked, then traveled the world until the money ran out, then worked another job, then traveled some more.

Then one day he fell in love … with glass!

“I had just graduated college and traveled to New Zealand,” he said. “The trip was supposed to be six months, but it ended up being three years because I worked at a glass studio and absolutely loved it.”

Leputa returned recently from the Netherlands, where he had a solo exhibit titled “Carving at a Glacial Pace.” The work at the show was inspired by glaciers and the beautiful icy scenes all over that part of the world. Leputa has had shows in Florida, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming and Europe.

After New Zealand, Leputa came back home to the U.S. and settled in Fort Payne.

“When I decided to move back to the States, I looked all over the Northeast, places like Pennsylvania and New York, but Fort Payne was by far the best fit,” Leputa said. “It’s not like living in a big city that’s oversaturated, like in the Northeast. You still have the conveniences of the city, but the space and slow pace of a small town.”

Leputa’s work involves manipulations of the glass. First, he heats and molds it to the shape he wants, and then lets it cool. Later, he carves it and adds different textures and layers of special effects to give it depth. His collection for the Netherlands exhibit, with its deep textures and blue tones, resembles glaciers.

“Being an artist and working for myself certainly isn’t the best way to make a living,” he said. “You know the term ‘starving artist’; we’re not starving, but close to it sometimes. But being able to do what you love is such an important thing.”

Life and art collide for Leputa, who measures things by his passion, love and fulfillment.

“It’s my passion,” he said. “Why work a 40-hour week just so you have the money to do what you love, when you can just do what you love?”

The Product: Works of art made of glass.

Take home: Original glass sculptures (prices vary).

Mark Leputa Glass Sculpture,

Republished with permission of Alabama NewsCenter.