If You Build It, They Will Gather
Gathered Art Gallery & Studios keeps its doors open and art all-inclusive
Our May 2 issue contained a story on the opening of Gathered Art Gallery & Studios, the latest in a long line of art glass galleries in Toledo. The gallery’s mission is to create a place for artists to gather, exchange ideas and techniques, and ultimately to celebrate art glass. Outside the gallery’s N. Huron location, directly across from Fifth Third Field, a modest sign reads BLOWING GLASS TODAY COME INSIDE. Any day of the week the public can wander into the studio and observe glass blowing. We caught up with the studio's three resident artists Adam Goldberg, Eli Lipman and Mike Stevens to have them walk us through the process of creating a piece of art glass.
Gathered Art Gallery and Studios, 23 N. Huron. 419-356-3703. www.gatheredartgallery.com
A blowpipe is dipped into an oven that holds at 2150 degrees and "gathers" (another play on the studio's name) a dollop of molten glass.
The "gathered glass" is rolled into "frit," which consists of tiny shards of colored glass. The different colored frit is what provides art glass with an arrayof colors.
The end of the pipe is reintroduced into a reheating oven called the “Glory Hole,” as Adam Goldberg demonstrates above. This oven also maintains a temperature of 2150. The oven reheats the glass to a temperature that allows it to be malleable. This is repeated throughout the entire glass making process.
The molten glass is rolled out on a "marvering" table to give the object its basic shape. Traditionally the tabletop was marble; nowadays stainless steel is commonly used.
FIVE + SIX
The glassblower (technically known as the gaffer) blows a small amount of air into the blowpipe and caps the end of the pipe with his thumb. This allows the air to expand into the molten glass creating a bubble, making it hollow. The glass is reheated at intervals to keep it at a working temperature. An assistant, in this case Eli Lipman at left, is often used to blow air into the piece at a pace determined by the glass blower. Having an assistant blow allows the gaffer to work the piece, simultaneously making it larger, evening out the thickness of the glass, and giving it its desired shape.
Once the glass is the size and shape the artist desires, another blowpipe (or a solid metal rod known as a punty) is dipped to gather a small bit of molten glass and stuck on the end of the bubble. This will be the bottom of the pitcher. The original blowpipe is broken off, leaving an opening that the gaffer will shape into the top of the pitcher.
The artist then heats the opening repeatedly, allowing him to gradually shape the lip of the pitcher until it is thin and even. The assistant gathers a tiny dollop on a blowpipe and blows a bubble into it, shaping it until it is long and hollow. This will become the handle. The glass is attached to the side of the piece and pulled with tweezer to form a handle.
A blowtorch is used to heat up one area on the rim to make it molten. This area is then pulled with the tweezers to shape the spout. Now the pitcher is complete!