June 11, 2004

Nestled in the heart of the rural village of Millbrook, lies a special place.  It's not special because it is historical or because it has been around for centuries; it is special because of what a certain building holds inside of it.  This building is the home of Atelier Glassworks.
Elishka Harmer Smiley and Dean Smiley are the creative and talented Artisans behind the business and studio known as Atelier Glassworks.  As one of the two "hot" glass studios in Ontario, they maintain a skillful balance between creating beautiful and unique projects, such as drinking vessels, goblets and sculptures, to creating commercial glass blowing productions for clients such as Disney Imagineering in Japan, Sal Cabbido Time and Treasures in New Jersey, and the Waldo Collection in Los Angeles, California.  The products that Dean and Elishka create for their clients also include glass domes for antique clocks and unique glass lamps.
Several people have benefited from the studio in Millbrook.  Along with the two principals, Elishka and Dean, they also employ a retail salesperson and a Job Connect Trainee.  This has given the people of Millbrook the opportunity to work with Elishka and Dean in this unique glass studio.  Recently, they have also offered classes and instruction in the art of glassblowing for anyone who is interested in taking them.
Their careers started 17 years ago, when they began their training in old world style glass blowing.  Their education has taken them throughout both Europe and North America.  Two of these 17 years were spent apprenticing in the Czech Republic.  During this time, they had the opportunity to meet several world renowned artists who were known for their work with glass blowing.
One of these famous artists was Rene Ruoubicek, who is considered to be the grandfather of modern Czech glass.  Mr. Ruoubicek helped both Dean and Elishka to further develop their talent in glasswork into something that has become a fusion of both contemporary design and European glass blowing tradition.  Another fellow artisan that they had the opportunity to create projects with was Designer Karl Lagerfeld; Architect Borjek Sipek was another fellow with whom they had the opportunity to meet, produce and create with.
Dean and Elishka are not only known for their work displayed at Atelier Glassworks.  They have had the privilege and honour of representing Canada for the past three years at international glass symposiums across Europe.  Their creations are exhibited at the Edmonton Art Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta, The Tomsk Museum in Siberia, and in Lubtheen, Germany.
Although they have found their niche in the commercial market by exporting glass domes for antique clocks and collectibles to the United States, Dean and Elishka are also able to flow back into their creative works.  Some of their contemporary designs include a drinking vessel entitled "Medusa" and a goblet entitled "Marilyn".  Both of these creations are featured on their website  "Medusa" is a beautiful vessel that is inspired by the mythical creature "Medusa", who has snakes for hair.  "Marilyn" is another contemporary piece that takes an American icon, Marilyn Monroe, in her famous pose standing over the subway grate, and turns it into a unique piece of art.  These drinking vessels are sought after by people who have an interest for something different.

Their talents are not only limited to their creative projects.  They are also asked to conduct work shops, provide technical support and execute designs created by leading artisans.  Currently, Atelier Glassworks contains two glass furnaces, which allow them to work on both their personal artistic creations, as well as maintain their large commercial business.  Other artists in their field have asked Dean and Elishka for their help in building furnaces specifically made for glass blowing.
Atelier Glassworks received the 2003 Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Peterborough County.  Recently, the Greater Peterborough Community Futures Development Corporations sent a letter to Inniskilen wineries that outlined some of the potential work that could be done by Atelier Glassworks.
The studio of Atelier Glassworks can be found in beautiful downtown Millbrook.  The community has a vast array of artists, and it supports a network of these artists and their arts.  The village of Millbrook benefits from the studio through the tourism that it generates.  It has become a business that draws people who are interested in old world style glass blowing, from over a 100 mile radius.
Although Elishka and Dean are relatively new to the community, having moved to Millbrook in May 2002, they had been in business for five years prior to establishing their business in Millbrook.  They chose to move to this small rural village because of its relative proximity to both their export markets and transportation.  They received funding from Community Futures Development Corporation in July 2002.
Atelier Glassworks and principals Elishka Harmer Smiley and Dean Smiley have brought something very unique to the town of Millbrook and to the province of Ontario.  Their studio, which showcases some of their unique work, has brought more tourists to Millbrook and has helped to increase the economic development of the downtown.  Elishka and Dean have brought their talent to a community that reaps the benefits of their unique artistic studio, through added tourism, and by offering classes and instruction for those who are interested in learning the art of old world style glass blowing.