I started working on the advanced book. The following are some of my favorite process illustrations of rings, optics, etc. I was able to invest in an I-Pad Pro and Apple Pen...really, really excited about what's in store.
I just got back after two months on the road.
and a bit of honesty...
How do you make it in the glass world? There's no one formula. There's not one right way. I think there's a right attitude, a work ethic, and a passion that gets you far in glass. It's a desire, a drive, and a skill. It's a willingness to learn from failure. It's patience.
Empty the break-off buckets. Sweep the floors. Open doors. Load pipes into the pipe warmer. Take out the garbage. Show up for shop clean up. Be on time. Charge the furnace. One of my jobs required me to clean the bathroom on occasion. I was working at a glass studio, and that's what mattered.
When working in the shop, I learn the most when I break glass or things don't go as planned. It always finds a way to humble me.
Work the glass on the edge of your skill level. That's where the magic happens.
Glassblowing is a constant decision making process towards a desired outcome. It's always different, never the same.
After you learn glass only then does it teach you, but only if you let it.
Every studio i've visited is unique and special.
Don't take the studio at your school or work for granted.
Apply for everything. Especially if its free! My rejection letters far surpass the acceptance ones.
The first two times I applied to the BFA program at Illinois State University, I got rejected. I can't thank the panel enough for this because I wasn't ready. It pushed me. I was accepted the third time. ISU is a big part of where I am today. John Miller's program is a big part of who I am today.
Photograph your work. Professionally pack it. Write an artist statement and biography. Start to build a resume. Build a website. Design business cards and hand them out. Someone will notice.
I got to see Lino and his team work in person. Epic.
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The journey continues...
See you at SOFA. Goodnight.
Thank you Eoin at UW-River Falls, Kelly and Chad at FOCI, Rick at Anoka-Ramsey, Helen at UW-Madison, and all the other amazing faces along the way. Thank you for having me out to visit and teach.
I look forward to putting all this inspiration into the next book.
After three years, I returned to Neusole Glassworks as a visiting artist for one week. I went into it with seven new ideas and accomplished four of them. I produced eight finished pieces.
I met some good people. Thank you Alli, Nate, Trey, Adam, Sam, and John. I wouldn't have been able to pull this off without all of you. Glad we got to celebrate Taco Tuesday and play Exploding Kittens! I'm looking forward to when we will meet again.
Thank you Neusole! I was able to push my work to a new level.
I am down at ISU Thursday and Friday, up to UW-River Falls the following week, teaching a three day weekend class at FOCI, visiting artist at Anoka-Ramsey, and finally back down through UW-Madison.
The book tour continues...
I started browsing through the first draft of Life on the Rails. It consists of 110 hand written pages. Forty four of those pages evolved into the intermediate book. Sixty six pages remain.
As the advanced book develops, it can very easily turn into two books.
I began illustrations on my new Wacom Bamboo Tablet (thanks to my aunt!). I hope these images will convey a more accurate understanding of the material. They are already doing that for me. =)
Next week starts my week long residency at Neusole Glassworks. Time to start getting these ideas out of the sketchbook!
Enjoy your weekend!
I took an analog photography class at Illinois State in 2009. After browsing the library's photography section, Lee Friedlander stood out among the rest. I liked his work.
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When I go out with my camera, my destination is rarely determined. The world around me controls my movement in space. I like to map out a place in my head before going to work. I analyze shapes in an environment on multiple grounds of depth to predict where things will line up. Relationships start to develop in my mind, so i go explore. Some work. Some don't. Most lead me to new ideas.
Sometimes fun little unintentional gems find their way into the shot. These are the best moments.
I enjoy the geometric basics of the world. Man made objects break down to simple shapes. Forced perspective is all around us. I've been referring to these moments as "Sweet Spots". There's always an adventure involved. I find it peaceful and fulfilling.
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Editing the photos is just as enjoyable, but on a different level.
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The following are a few of the photographs from an afternoon in Chicago, IL. I shoot digital on a Nikon D3300 with minimal editing in Photoshop.
Over 200 copies have been sold world wide to the U.K., Japan, Italy, Argentina, Turkey, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Australia, and of course the U.S.
I'm writing this blog on a plane to Seattle, WA. Saturday, July 22nd. My time in Washington will be spent assisting the wonderful Jason Chakravarty and Jennifer Caldwell during their Monday/Tuesday residency at the Tacoma Museum of Glass. This is the first time I'm visiting the Museum of Glass! I don't know why it took me so long to visit, but this seems like the perfect moment. In between work at Tacoma, I will piggy back this trip with my book tour. I'll hit up a few local studios, book in hand, to continue to spread the knowledge.
The past two months were surreal. I turned my visit to the GAS Conference in Norfolk, VA into a two week road trip. I stopped through Flame Run in Louisville, KY, the Glass Spot in Richmond, VA, Cary, NC to visit a good friend, two days at StarWorks in NC, Penland School of Crafts to drop off books with Sallie at the store, back through Louisville to shoot arrows, and on to Calumet City, IL.
One week later, I jumped on a plane to Gent Glas in Belgium for a European book release of Life on the Rails. Gent Glas is two years young. John, Katrien, Momo and the rest of their crew created something special in the European glass community. The studio defines many aspects of what the American Studio Glass Movement and the Glass Art Society represent. Gent Glas has a contagious energy. One wall is lined with a display of glass art from local and past visiting international artists. Across from the gallery is a bar where you can sip on a selection of Belgian beer, Cava, coffee, or espresso (cheapest prices in the city!). Tables and chairs fill a central seating area where you can relax and be entertained by some of the finest local glass makers. If it's warm in the studio, step outside to the covered outdoor patio for a smoke. Don't worry about missing the glassmaking action! A projector displays a live feed on the outdoor wall. I would suggest a visit during their Friday Night Live Demonstration in the evening. Friday Night Demos do not run during the hottest summer months, but will re-open in September.
Gent Glas is the first time I had a large team of four to five people to make work. I'm accustomed to only one assistant in the studio. This opened doors and broke down barriers in my glass making process.
John, Katrien, Momo, Charlyn and I visited Leerdam, Holland. We went to an International glass exhibition in an old castle called the Fort. Each artist had their own room in the castle to create an installation of glass. I met some talented artists and glass makers. It was here, I watched a man with a home made furnace make a long neck bottle, swan, and flower. I wanted to talk with him and hear his story. There was a language barrier. I could only communicate with simple words. I showed him my book to communicate through glass making illustrations. I thought he would be interested in it, and he was! A lady standing nearby heard the difficulty in communication and offered to translate. She was talking to him earlier and told me he is a Syrian refugee with family still in Syria. After a bit more time, we parted ways. As I was walking away, I stopped, realized I had extra books in my backpack and took one out. I turned around and gave it to him. I wanted him to have it. It was the purest feeling I've had in a long time.
I spent two nights with the city of Gent taking photos of the evening lights. It's an inspiring city.
It's been just shy of 2 months since my last post.
The book tour is in full swing. I taught a class in Indianapolis, stopped at Flame Run in Louisville, the Glass Spot in Richmond, VA, Norfolk for the GAS Conference, down to Star Works, NC, Penland, NC, and back through Flame Run to Chicago, IL. I spent the last three weeks at Gent Glas in Belgium with a visit to Leerdam, Holland. In less than a week, I'll be in Tacoma, WA.
Every stop created a new memory.
Over 100 Copies Sold!
I really want to thank the people who played a part in the creation of Life on the Rails. Most are mentioned and depicted throughout the book. I would not have got to this point in my life without you.
When I was teaching at Circle 6 Studios in Phoenix, I always thought back to the days when I started blowing glass. I thought about my learning process. I asked myself, "What is the easiest way to transfer the information in my head to my students?" The answer was clear; Drawing! But how much should I invest in it? Oh, just a page or two of hand outs each day. Nice. Perfect. Ok, but what about this part? In order to know this, you need to know that. What about that time I learned this here and that there. Alright, I'll write a book. Just a short one. I'll get it published in a few months. I'll scan in the pages, transfer the images into a Word document and type out the description. Perfect. Great. This is a lot of information. I've had suggestions to make two books. Let's do it. I'll split it down the middle. The first will be intermediate, and the second, advanced. Let's put that advanced copy off to the side for now.
I really want to make the images look better. Lets bring them up in Photoshop and I'll draw over them with my mouse pen. Wow these are looking good....now I have to do that for all Eight. Hundred. and Fifty of them. I redrew each image at the very least twice. That's right. I danced through about five different genres of music, and watched both of the Friends and That 70's Show series while editing. I had a lot of time to think. Those months turned into half a year, one year, over a year and a half! Over the course of this time period, I printed four hard copies to give to people to edit. Those copies traveled across the world. I worked on it like crazy. I couldn't stop. I didn't want to go to sleep at night because there was so much to write. I kept notes on my phone, on sticky notes, in Word documents, on the drafts. It slowly took form. It felt real.
Now, I'm working on posters, the Advanced book, and the second edition of the Intermediate book.
Educational posters are my newest undertaking that will display the most important aspects of the glassblowing process. My first "Jack Line" example will travel with me to the GAS conference in Norfolk to spark interest. I wish I had posters when I was learning how to blow glass. I absorb information the quickest and most efficient through images and explanations.
I've been away from a studio for a while but I continue to sketch constantly. The time away has led to a deeper reflection about my glass work. Instead of my skills progressing faster than my ideas, my ideas are now progressing faster than my skills. Funny how that happens. Time away is important for any artist. Take a step back. Distract yourself with another process or media and come back around full circle. For me, fresh eyes produce the most inspiration. Find a balance between contact time and reflection.
Enjoy your weekend!
I am speechless holding this book in my hand...all I can do is smile.
This book and the people in it mean so much to me.
Looking back on the past 19 months, I moved to three different places. Each of them I called home; twice in phoenix and back to Cal, City, IL. I travelled to Turkey, filmed Life on the Rails: The Video in North Carolina, visited Mt. Mitchell: the highest peak in mainland eastern North America, became an uncle, and snowboarded the Rockies. All inspired the creation of this book in some way. Words of encouragement from so many people made it all possible.
For the remainder of the year, I will slowly piece together an international book tour in the US, Canada, and Europe. In 2018, I am honored with a residency in Australia. After that, I’ll find a new home to write the Advanced Book!! I’m not sure where it’ll be yet, but I’m excited about it.
The first 100 book are almost all sold! Future orders may be delayed an extra few weeks until the next shipment comes in. All copies ordered through me will be signed unless otherwise noted.
Payment options can be found by clicking here.
Time to start shipping books!!!!!
Enjoy the weekend! I know I will.
I was raised in Calumet City, IL. My professional glassblowing career led me to Phoenix, AZ where I was given the opportunity to teach glassblowing classes. Notes and chalk drawings of different techniques for the students resulted in my current book project.