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Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art features Ligonier artist

| Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Diane Hashberger of Ligonier watches as Andrew Thornton of Bolivar demonstrations the process of creating polymer clay ornaments coated in resin. Thornton was the featured guest for the Southern Allegnenies Museum of Art monthly Lunch a'Lart event.
Cami DiBaattista | for Trib Total Media
Diane Hashberger of Ligonier watches as Andrew Thornton of Bolivar demonstrations the process of creating polymer clay ornaments coated in resin. Thornton was the featured guest for the Southern Allegnenies Museum of Art monthly Lunch a'Lart event.
Museum Coordinator Sommer Toffle and Mary Weidlein, both of Ligonier, look at some of Thornton's finished ornaments.
Cami DiBaattista | for Trib Total Media
Museum Coordinator Sommer Toffle and Mary Weidlein, both of Ligonier, look at some of Thornton's finished ornaments.

Andrew Thornton recently spent an afternoon at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art as the featured guest for the museum's Lunch an l'Art program, a monthly lunch and lecture series.

“I was really honored to be asked to participate in the program,” Thornton said. “SAMA is such a great arts venue and we are lucky to have it here in our community. We are fortunate to have this kind of programming available so close to home.”

The Ligonier Valley chapter of the organization offers the program throughout the year to encourage a greater understanding of various art forms and movements, as well as to foster a deeper appreciation for art.

“I though Andrew would be a great artist to feature because he's such a dynamic artist,” said Sommer Toffle, the museum's coordinator.

Thornton is the co-owner of Allegory Gallery, a fine art gallery, jewelry boutique and bead shop located at 215 E. Main St.

Nearly 30 people attended the event that included a brief overview of Thornton's experiences in the arts and a demonstration that involved the process of creating resin ornaments.

“I chose to demonstrate working with resin because it's a medium I'm very familiar with and I wanted to give others the opportunity to experience it,” said Thornton, who shared his process of working polymer clay into molds to create a variety of ornaments which are then oven baked and coated in resin.

Thornton, who has worked with resin for more than 20 years, said he first encountered the material at a neighbor's garage sale.

“She was getting rid of her supplies and I just happened to stumble upon them,” he said. “I didn't have enough money for everything so I got what I could and proceeded to knock on her door once a week with my crumbled up dollar bills and loose change. Eventually, I think she got tired of me and gave me the rest. I'd like to think that she wanted to encourage my creativity, but more likely, it was to get rid of her pesky neighborhood kid.”

Thornton said while his mother encouraged his creative efforts, she did not like the idea of anything that could create a mess on the carpet, so he worked in secret in a makeshift studio in his closet.

“I've been fascinated with the material ever since and revisit it often,” he said.

In addition to working with resin, Thornton is known for crafting unique beads and completing intricately beaded jewelry. He is also a writer and a painter.

“Andrew is such a talented artist,” Toffle said. “His jewelry designs and sculptures are breathtaking. He's a gem to have here in our Valley.”

Thornton obtained a fine artist's degree with a specialization in collage, mixed media and painting from the School of Visual Arts in New York and has been featured in publications such as Stringing Magazine, Bead Chic, Steampunk-Style Jewelry and more recently in Unexpected Findings and Foxy Epoxy. Thornton was featured on the PBS show “Beads, Baubles and Jewels.”

“Andrew is a mindful new powerhouse in our art community,” said Sharon Vito-McCue, who serves on the board of trustees for SAMA. “He is conscientious and thoughtful towards the artists and gallery owners in Ligonier. His presentation was stimulating, informative and thought provoking.”

Museum members said they found Thornton's presentation to be very interesting and informative.

“Our guest were quite intrigued and impressed with his demonstration,” Toffle said.

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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