For more than 50 years, Wayne Thiebaud was the undisputed king of art that looks good enough to eat. He’d best watch out, though, because there are some new gunslingers in town. McKinleyville’s Hulet sisters, Dinah and Patty, have been making lampwork chocolates from Italian glass for more than a decade now, and they look every bit as delicious as Thiebaud’s cakes. Dinah and Patty’s glass confections can be found in museums, galleries and upscale gift shops around the world.
Dinah was the first sister to work in glass. Her husband Rob had learned scientific glassworking in the 1960s at Georgia Tech, and was influenced by Hans Godo Fräbel, a renowned glass sculptor in Atlanta. While working for the Gates Rubber Company in Denver, Rob set up a torch and began experimenting in glass. Dinah decided she had to try her hand at it too, and eventually the couple opened a small gallery. In the mid-1980s Dinah moved to California and joined her sister Patty, who was living in San Jose and working in hospital administration. One day while Patty was complaining about her job, Dinah suggested they move to Northern California and make a living doing glasswork. Patty, who had never sat down behind a torch, thought it was a brilliant idea.
The rest, as they say (to abuse an already weary cliche), is history. The Hulet sisters moved to Eureka and eventually bought a house in McKinleyville, where they still live and work today. Their glass chocolates and cupcakes and petit fours comprise only one of the many aspects of glasswork they’ve explored, but is probably the tastiest. You can see and learn more about their work, and even order pieces to own, at Malmseys.com and HuletGlass.com.
– story by David Kaftal