verre by Jess Panza is a line of heirloom quality glass goods hand-formed in LA.
As kids, my sisters and I would spend hours waiting for the rain to stop so we could go out and play. It rained a lot where I grew up and my work is in large part inspired by the rain soaked valleys of Pennsylvania at the base of the Appalachian mountains. I remember the three of us, by the window, watching and listening to the rain.
There is something very beautiful and transcendent about watching the drops of rain bead up on the window panes and roll down, one after the other. It makes you lose your place in time, if only for a moment. That is the feeling I hope to capture in my work.
I first learned to appreciate the ability to grow through hard work and find a work-life balance by watching my Italian grandparents. Later it was my mother and father who influenced me by building small businesses, from nothing, that fed the family and also fulfilled their desire for meaningful work. My summers spent rolling out pie dough or peeling and coring apples did not make me the envy of my friends. But, I learned to work quickly and efficiently with my hands and apply my heart to help build something meaningful, from practically nothing.
After years working at the United Nations, where my focus was the lives of others, it became evident that I needed to start building something of my own. The trajectory from then until now is pretty straight. I didn’t have a lot of resources or a large workspace in Brooklyn so by necessity I began working with something small and inexpensive. I studied to become a goldsmith (Metal Kitchen, Soho, NY) and a glass worker (Urban Glass, Brooklyn, NY) where I took courses on French casting techniques and Italian lampworking.
I began to work on projects for architects and interior designers and some of my own work when I had the time. I noticed there were a lot of parallels between working with metal and glass that I was eager to explore. It soon became apparent that combining the two would be very complementary. A decade on from those first years trying to figure it all out, a new home, an expanding family and lots of traveling in between, my work is distilled from all those influences and inspired by the sensible and natural world.