Rumlee Glass Studio Coming to Tuckerton Seaport

Oct 24, 2018
Photo by: Victoria Ford

New to the Tuckerton Seaport village is the Rumlee Glass Studio, led by Jeff Ruemeli (pronounced rum-lee, a name of Turkish origin that means “Land of the Romans”). He is the full-time ceramics studio manager at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences in Loveladies.

The glasshouse at the Seaport, as he affectionately calls it, is currently under construction; he’s retrofitting the former bathhouse, adding support beneath the floor, raising the ceiling and adding a restroom. He worked with architect Craig Brearley on the plans. The roof just got done. He has already made a bench and a reheating drum, but he’ll need a furnace, safety equipment and glass ovens.

Glass blowing is a team sport, Ruemeli explained over a cup of coffee at the Union Market at the Seaport last week. Two to three people – assistant, starter and gaffer – are needed to do the job right, since one person is tending the glass constantly. Timing is critical; a glass blower is really only as good as the assistant. Ruemeli’s assistant is Liz Koenig, who was worked with him for three years.

The Seaport is undergoing a revitalization of sorts, with several additions, including a ferry service, a blacksmithing shop, a tea house and the glass-blowing studio. Ruemeli anticipates the studio having separate hours from the Seaport so he can offer classes and hold events at night.

Jeff’s father, Nick Ruemeli, was involved at the Seaport’s outset as treasurer, so Ruemeli has fond memories of time spent there as a child. Opening his own studio there now is a point of pride for father and son alike.

Ruemeli was born and raised in Manahawkin and earned his BFA in 3D studies, glass and ceramics at the University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute. He specializes in lighting – pendants, chandeliers, outdoor, barware – and worked for Walt’s Electric for a time. He also blew glass for a few years at a lampwork studio in Surf City.

Koenig graduated from Southern Regional in 2016 and attends Ocean County College, studying pottery.

Pottery and glass are studied together, Ruemeli explained, because a 3D artist needs to build a varied portfolio, and because the two disciplines share similar working properties and materials. Pottery works from cold to hot; glass works from hot to cold. A potter works from top to bottom; a glass blower works from bottom to top. But it’s all chemistry.

The basics of glass production haven’t really changed throughout history, he said. He’s carrying on a tradition that dates back to the Colonial days in a state that is among the oldest glass producers in the country, due to the location and access to sand and wood.

“Locally sourced everything – it’s important,” he said.

Among his plans for the studio once it’s up and running (hopefully by or soon after Jan. 1) is to offer art classes to homeschool communities and “blow your own” workshops for holiday ornaments, pumpkins, shamrocks, turtles, entry-level projects.

“Everybody loves a good glass pumpkin,” he quipped.

The artwork, his own, will happen at its own pace. Some of his work is currently on exhibit inside the Seaport Tucker’s Island Lighthouse: incalmo vases and examples of crackle glass and bubble glass techniques.

— Victoria Ford

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