COURTESY ROB RATKOWSKI
A Tangerine Jellyfish light fixture is another current piece by the artist. While the newest project by Rick Strini for ABC's "Extreme Makeover" is being kept tightly under wraps, it will likely have the same wow factor as this offering, available at his Maui studio, Strini Art Glass.
Maui glass blower Rick Strini returns to the hit reality show
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It began with the season premiere and ends with the season finale. Rick Strini is one of a select group of artists and building-industry workers to have work showcased on national television through the reality series "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," but few can say they began the season and closed it out as well.
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
Two-part season finale
7 to 8 p.m. and 8 to 9 p.m. Sunday ABC/KITV
Strini, artist and owner of Maui-based Strini Art Glass, created the blue-and-green variegated chandelier, measuring 4 feet in diameter, that hangs in the stairwell of the Kalihi Valley home chosen for the Sept. 30 season premiere.
Sunday, a nationwide audience will get a look at Strini's latest creation for the show -- a contemporary chandelier created for the Noah's Ark Missionary Baptist church in New Orleans.
"It's unusual for me," said Strini of the project. "It's sort of an unusual departure."
Strini and his wife, Debra, traveled to New Orleans on their own dime, said "Extreme Makeover" interior designer Michael Moloney, who has formed a tight bond with the couple.
"Rick and Debra are just really great friends," said Moloney. "All that they want is to help. ... They flew all the way from Hawaii to New Orleans. That doesn't happen so often. We have people who follow us around on the mainland (because) the states are closer together. What we see is what we get from the Strinis."
The two-part season finale, which covers two projects, wraps up the show's mission of building homes in 50 states. The sixth season, which begins in September, will focus on the theme of everyday heroes.
COURTESY ROB RATKOWSKI
Rick Strini made such an impressive showing in the season opener of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" with his blue-and-green chandelier, he was sought out to create a chandelier for the sales pavilion at Ka Makana at Hoakalei in Ewa Beach.
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Producers and cast members of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" didn't have far to travel from Oahu last summer in their search for an artist who could create a focal point sure to garner attention. They found a willing participant in Rick Strini, a Maui-based glass blower who creates custom pieces such as pendants, vases, bowls and stemware.
Fueled by "Extreme Makeover" interior designer Michael Moloney's directions -- "Big! Think bigger!" -- Strini crafted a light fixture for the show made of more than 200 cathedral-glass-style pieces and shaped by his own hands. It hangs in Theresa "Momi" Akana's Kalihi Valley home, which was chosen for the season-opening makeover.
Strini shipped the pieces individually to Oahu, and installed them on set with Moloney during the show's seven-day construction set-up.
A deceptively delicate-looking fixture reminiscent of a cloud, and created with a tapestry of colors reflective of the ocean, the end product -- named "Pololena" -- weighed more than 300 pounds when finished.
"I thought, 'Let's see what this guy can do,'" said Moloney. "Let's push the envelope here. ... It's not an easy circumstance to be working in. But Rick's attitude makes it easy."
STAR-BULLETIN / 2007
Rick Strini made a fine showing on the season opener of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" with the project he later named "Pololena" -- which means blossoming in Hawaiian. Replicas of "Pololena" are available in two sizes.
Moloney brought Strini back for the season finale, which involved another round of exchanged renderings, e-mails and phone conversations for the hush-hush-as-can-be filming of the show. "With the Strinis, it was like, 'Where do you want us, and how high do you want us to jump?'" said Moloney, who compared the new chandelier to "an upside-down wedding cake."
This time Strini partnered with blacksmith Hans Duus to create the chandelier for a congregation that had lost their church to Hurricane Katrina and had been renting space from another church ever since.
Participation on the show is a philanthropic endeavor for the small businesses that work with the show's producers. Businesses donate time and services, although exposure from the show often leads to other projects, as it did in Strini's case.
"It's just been a snowball effect," said Strini.
He created lighting based upon the original EMHE chandelier for the new sales pavilion at Ka Makana at Hoakalei, a private community of homes in Ewa Beach. Richard Dunn, executive vice president of residential sales and marketing for Haseko Construction, contacted Strini after seeing the "Extreme Makeover" premiere.
COURTESY ROB RATKOWSKI
Rick Strini and his wife, Debra, kneel with "Tide Pools," a collection commissioned by a client.
Although he has 45 years experience in glass blowing, Strini started out in pottery. But glass blowing proved more lucrative -- Strini has been earning a living from it since he was 16 and is one of the few remaining artists knowledgeable in the Luster tradition that dates to the 19th century. That technique of creating luminous, pearlescent glass was purportedly lost after Tiffany & Co. discontinued its studio line in the 1920s.
Raised by parents supportive of the arts, Strini created his first kiln in the back yard of his family's home as a teenager in Santa Cruz, Calif. He went on to obtain a degree in ceramics from San Jose State University in 1970 and a Master's of art in design from the University of California-Berkeley in 1971.
"I was one of those kids who thought I could do anything," said Strini. "It seemed natural (to have a kiln) in the back yard."
OURTESY RICK STRINI
Strini, shown at work in his studio, opened a storefront gallery for Strini's Art Glass about six months ago.
His work has been exhibited in the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Philadelphia Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has graced tables at the White House. Strini created stemware for functions during the Carter administration, as well as Christmas ornaments during the Clinton administration.
Though Strini was filmed installing the chandelier when the season finale was taped 2 1/2 months ago in New Orleans, there is no guarantee that the footage will make it on the air.
"It's been pretty exciting," said Strini. "We've gotten a lot of responses for the first one. But it's the humanitarian aspect of giving (that is rewarding)."
It's Strini's low-key quality that Moloney admires. "A lot of small business and artists ... they're donating thousands and thousands of dollars and they deserve credit for it.
"But in getting to know the Strinis, they are spiritual people, and just want to give back."
Rick Strini's glasswork is sold at Dolphin Galleries at the Hilton Hawaiian Village and on Maui at Strini Art Glass, 120 Hana Highway, No. 9, Hana, Maui 96799 (808) 572-6283