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Jill Reynolds has made fine glass jewelry in her Cheshire studio since 2006.
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Cheshire Glass Works Is a Local Treasure

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Reynolds has been making glass bead jewelry since 2006. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Glass is a passion and somewhat of an obsession of Jill Reynolds who has made fine glass jewelry in her Cheshire studio since 2006.
 
"Glass is just awesome and people can make such beautiful things out of it," the Cheshire Glass Works owner said. "It is a beautiful mysterious medium and I wanted to figure it out."
 
Reynolds said she started making jewelry at age 15 and her first creations were hemp macramé necklaces that she sold at concerts and a few local stores.
 
Later in life, she took a glass bead-making class that inspired her to add the new medium to her craft.
 
"It was just a weekend class but it was awesome. It was really basic but I wanted to up my jewelry game a little bit," she said. "After that, I set up in my basement with my torch and tank and just spent five years making glass stuff and trying to teach myself."
 
Reynolds said she kept working at her craft and in 2006 she moved out of her basement and to her current store at 24 South St.
 
She originally opened with a silversmith but the fellow crafter decided to move to a new location within the first year. Reynolds said the silversmith encouraged her to depart with her to what she believed to be a superior location, but Reynolds wanted to stay in Cheshire. 
 
"I wanted to stay here," she said. "I am from Cheshire and what are the chances of actually having a business in town doing something I love."
 
Reynolds said her business quickly began to grow and she was able to leave her "back up" job and throw all her efforts into jewelry making.
 
She said forming the glass beads is essentially the same as glass blowing just smaller.
 
"It is just like glass blowing in a furnace but I just use a torch — it is a smaller flame it is smaller scale," she said. "I get a stick of glass super hot and smoosh it  — then I take a colored glass and melt it on. You can do whatever the heck you want."
 
Once finished, she puts the glass in her kiln to temper it and then turns it into jewelry or whatever else she feels inspired to make.
 
Reynolds said she has no formal art training and has figured out the craft organically over the years. She said some people will draw up what they want to create beforehand but she prefers to jump right in.
 
"I like to just make a coffee turn on music and see what happens," she said. "I don't draw anything I just pick it up. Sometimes I have an idea of what I want to make and some days I will focus on that others it goes in a totally different direction."
 
Reynolds has garnered a following in town and she has developed a long list of returning customers. 
 
"I have people that come in once a month, once every few weeks to see what new things I have," she said. " I have people that are addicted to earrings and I have one guy that comes in for every holiday — Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, when his wife just needs a pick me up. I must have sold him hundreds of things."
 
Reynolds work has moved beyond the borders of Cheshire and Berkshire County to fill orders for people throughout the country and world. She has met people from Isreal, Japan, and other glass enthusiasts from around the world. 
 
But her favorite customers are those who actually walk into the store to do their shopping. 
 
"There aren't a lot of places like this to shop where the person that makes everything is right there," she said. "I can talk about it or make whatever you want if you want something special …I want people to come in and see what I am doing."
 
Reynolds said she never thought she would be a business owner and noted whatever she is doing seems to be working. 
 
"I opened at a time when a lot of cool small local businesses opened and it was a good time for that because people really wanted to support local businesses," she said. "But then they all started to close and it took a dip but I am still going."
 
Reynolds said she hopes her business continues to grow and hopes to inspire others to do what they love.
 
"I just hope people keep coming back and I want to see more kids get interested in this stuff," she said. "Just being interested in art, being creative, and encouraging them...If you like to do something, even if it is weird or you don't think it means a lot, just keep doing it and one day you will be a professional at it."
  
More information can be found on Reynolds' website
 
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MCAS Results Mixed for Hoosac Valley Regional School District

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Standardized test results were a mixed bag for the Hoosac Valley Regional School and although there was some progress, the district was penalized because of incomplete data.
 
Superintendent Aaron Dean went over the 2019 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System results at Monday's School Committee meeting and noted although the district is classified as "requiring assistance or intervention," this label is not truly accurate of the district's scores and progress.
 
"I don't see a problem because this is something we are going to stay on top of and I want to make sure we are constantly checking it throughout the year," Dean said. "It is unfortunate that we suffered a little bit in this but all in all the data here is not scary and I think ... we will be able to address these challenges."
 
Dean said the reason for this classification was the district being "in need of focused/ targeted support" and "failure to meet mandatory data reporting deadlines," which was simply a result of incomplete data that ultimately hurt the district. 
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