Summit Stop: Molten glass becomes works of art
summit daily news
It’s amazing the connection that you feel with a work of art when you watch it take shape. That is the experience offered at the GatherHouse, where a team of glassblowers, led by artist John Hudnut, breathes life into colorful glass creations, transforming shapeless globs into unique glassware for on-looking customers. The demonstrations are a relaxing and interesting afternoon alternative to skiing or snowboarding.
The day I came in, Hudnut and his team were making a particularly complicated piece: a vase depicting a landscape scene with a multi-colored sky above a mountain forest, though I’d never have guessed that’s what it was when they began.
The vase began as a ball of molten glass, melted in a 2,000-degree oven on the end of a long pole called a blowpipe. Pieces begin as an idea, Hudnut says, and develop with the creativity of the artist.
For the observer, the process is a bit magical, watching the vibrant colors and designs emerge from the orange molten glass and form appear as the artists blow and pull the piece together.
I recommend “commissioning” a piece, discussing what you want with Hudnut and then staying to watch him create it, because following the demonstration it’s difficult not to feel a kind of ownership for the work and you’ll probably want to take it home with you.
My piece came together slowly and required the team effort of Hudnut and several of his assistants. Not all glassblowers encourage teamwork, but it works for Hudnut’s studio. He acts as the commander, giving out instructions as his team manages scalding instruments and hot glass around him.
“I’ve got an eye on everyone, and I’m directing traffic,” Hudnut said. “Everyone’s got this kind of rhythm.”
They created the landscape by adding colors, melting and rolling them together and pulling them into place on the constantly rotating blowpipe. Perhaps the most interesting part of the project is the clouds, which Hudnut and his assistants create by adding spots of white glass on top of the tangerine and midnight blue sunset and setting them in with a blowtorch. They had to work briskly because the glass quickly cools to a point where it is no longer malleable, but they also have to be careful because it’s scalding hot when it comes out of the oven.
Gradually, they inflated the piece like a balloon, blowing gently on one end of the pipe while continuing to turn it. When the design was finished, they dipped the beginnings of the vase into a liquid clear glass.
Hudnut first worked with glass his last year in art school. After college he traveled to Europe and worked his way from Florence to Paris, learning from masters at glass shops along the way. He eventually returned to the U.S. and set up shop, initially in a tent, and eventually in his current facility in Frisco.
The shop is a brightly lit, colorful space. The front fourth houses shelves with pieces for sale, but the majority of the room is dedicated to the studio. The environment is relaxed, but busy, with plenty of light and easy music playing.
When the piece was finished and shaped, Hudnut shook hands with his team and all of the onlookers, congratulating us each on the beautiful piece we finished.
Demonstrations are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 2-6 p.m., with a special Sunday demonstration slot this afternoon from 1-5 p.m.
For more information on the GatherHouse visit http://www.gatherhouse.com.
Have a Summit Stop idea? Send it to email@example.com. (970) 668-4628
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