Monday, August 25, 2014

Miles Dreyer Obituary

Miles Dreyer Obituary

Alexander Miles Dreyer, age 33, of Celo, North Carolina, died suddenly after a brief illness on August 19, 2014. Miles was born in his grandparents’ home in Celo in 1981. He was a curious and inventive child with a propensity for turning the hillside above his house into elaborate water channels and mysterious piles of assorted materials into giant puppets. He had a quirky take on almost everything and was one of the funniest kids ever. He attended South Toe Elementary School, East Yancey Middle School, and Mountain Heritage High School. When he was 16, he left high school and completed his GED, graduating with honors. 

Yancey County has an unusual concentration of glassblowers, and Miles became fascinated by this craft at a young age. He was welcomed into the studio of Billy and Katie Bernstein, first as a spectator and eventually as an assistant. After he left high school, he took his first class at Penland School of Crafts (with a special underage exception), a two-month workshop taught by Sally Prasch, who became a lifelong friend. Miles was a student in a number of Penland workshops between 1997 and 2002, he was a studio assistant at Penland in 2000, 2004, and 2007. In 2011, Penland invited him to teach a workshop in flameworked glass.

Between 1997 and 2003, Miles was an assistant to Yancey County glass artists Billy and Katie Bernstein, Robert Hynes, and David Wilson, and he worked as a glass lathe operator for Miles Henry. During this time he converted an old Airstream trailer into a flameworking studio, which he affectionately referred to as “The Lab.” He traveled alone to Costa Rica, Australia, and New Zealand, twice attended the Burning Man Festival in Nevada, and did a two-week internship at Hot Island Glass on Maui, Hawaii. He also worked for several summers as a cook at Camp Celo.

In 2003 and 2004, he was the head of the flameworking studio in the summer high school craft program at Snow Farm in Massachusetts, and in 2004 he was hired as a glass assistant at Hot Island Glass. During three-and-half years on Maui, he did daily production glassblowing and greatly extended his skills with hot glass. He also snorkeled, surfed, hiked, and spent endless hours exploring Maui’s nooks and crannies (especially the crannies). In 2006, he was joined by his partner Polly Lorien, a glass artist he met at Penland School. They worked together at Hot Island Glass until they returned to Yancey County in 2008.

Miles and Polly were married in Celo on July 25, 2009. Together they started The People’s Glass and The Token Project, small-scale glass operations that produce affordable handmade glass objects using techniques that minimize fuel consumption. They moved into a house in Celo Community, Inc., the land-trust community on South Toe River, and applied for membership in the community. Miles was involved with a large community garden and became a wonderful gardener. Polly is a musician and, together with their friend George Stephens, Miles and Polly hosted regular open-mic nights at the Pizza Shop in Spruce Pine. In 2013, Polly gave birth to their beautiful daughter Ginger Mae Lorien.

Upon his return to Yancey County, Miles worked for Atomic Solar, where he was proud to be involved with sustainable energy. In recent years, he ran the shipping department at Mountain Electronics, and he also did weekly information collection from a Mount Mitchell weather station that is part of a national climate trends research project.

Miles Dreyer lived life fully and with passion. He was brilliant, clever, and funny. He worried about the state of the world, challenged other people’s ideas, advocated for fairness in everything he did, and pursued knowledge for its own sake. He was an artist, a cook, a problem-solver, and a skilled maker of useful things. He was reliable, he kept his commitments, and he took tender care of his family and his friends. He was taken from us too soon, but he touched countless lives in the time he was given.

He is survived by his wife, Polly; his daughter, Ginger Mae Lorien; his brother, Julian Dreyer, of Asheville; his parents Robin Dreyer and Tammy Hitchcock, of Celo; and his grandmother, Donna Jean Dreyer, of Celo.

The family would like to thank the dedicated doctors and nurses who did everything they could to try to save his life. We will miss him so much.

A memorial service will be held at 4:00 PM on Sunday, August 31 under a tent at the Celo Community soccer field on Hannah Branch Road, rain or shine. All are invited.

Some friends have started a memorial blog here:

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