Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Beginnings

    18 years in one area of the world.  Whew. I have been sitting somewhat still for a little more than a full month. Time flies. I am reminded of this when my phone rings - ring tone is the first line from the song "Time" by Pink Floyd. "Ticking  away, the moments that make up a dull day, you fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way".  My high school German teacher would play this song on the last day of class for the outgoing seniors.  I wrote the lyrics on the cover of the sketchbook I carried around the first semester I was at college.  After hearing it at least a thousand times, I still think the guitar solo is one of the most perfect guitar solos ever recorded.
    "And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun"  This one has always haunted me.  Especially lately.  Full speed towards forty, no real job, no real estate, no children, no pets, no savings, everything I own in a really small truck, some skills, and hopeless optimism.  Living by the grace of good friends, family and strangers, while trying to sort it all out.

    While there is a shortage of hot shops in the Bozeman area, this is not the case with flameworkers.  I have become friends with several recently, and have taken up the craft.
    I was walking around town a few weeks ago - actually, it was that first Tuesday in town - with my fresh fearlessness, noticed a coffee shop called Lil' Sherpa. Note to self - I should check this place out at some point.  I went on to chat with the owner at Altitude Gallery - I noticed on my previous visit that they had some glass work on display.  Had a good conversation, a couple more leads to follow up on - I will admit I was a little tired, I had spent all morning talking about my ideas & plans, and I was beginning to feel it.  Coffee.  Something told me to go back to Lil' Sherpa, so I did.  Talked with a very interesting gal there, showed her one of the short videos I have on the blog of me blowing glass.  She mentioned that there are some glass blowers at an area called Four Corners and that I should go down there (about 10 miles south of town).  Okay, I'll put that on the list.
    The following morning, I hopped in the truck with the idea of driving around to get a feel for the town, and randomly found myself on the road that leads to Four Corners.  I have been by here - on my way to and from San Francisco - this is the road that follows the Gallatin River through the canyon.  I'll take a left.  About a quarter mile down the road I noticed a sign for Silica Styles, a flameworking studio, specializing in tobacco accessories.  Okay, I'll pop in and say hi.
    There is a gallery in front, and a flameworking studio in the side building.  There are some amazing objects in that gallery. I have always had an appreciation for flameworked glass, but for one reason or another things have never worked out for me to pursue it.
    The place is owned by Morris Shull who is quite an interesting character.  He has a lot of energy, I can see the gears constantly turning - kindred spirit - he has the glass bug and has a studio attached to his house! He is a couple of months older than I and started blowing glass about the same time as I - although in a completely different setting.  His experience is primarily in the pipe scene, which is one that I have appreciated and respected, but never quite fully embraced as my own artistic outlet. We hit it off - chatted for a bit and I showed him some of the molds and samples I have in the back of the truck.  He immediately asked me if I would be into collaborating. Whoa. Sure! Sweet.
    Timing is everything. This has been a recurring theme in my life. I bring this up because of my arrival at Silica Styles.  Flameworking involves using torches to reheat the glass, things are traditionally done on workbenches, with premade glass cane and tubing as raw materials.  These are heated up and manipulated in a variety of ways to create whatever-it-is that you may be making.  The scale of the work is generally more intimate than what I accustomed to. Significantly different set up in the studio. They use a type of glass referred to as "hard" glass (pyrex, or borosilicate).  Compared to what I have traditionally worked ("soft" glass), hard glass requires more heat to manipulate, and is much more viscous.  Hard glass can also handle drastic differences in temperature. Not so much with soft glass.
    It just so happens that two weeks prior to my arrival, Morris purchased two little furnaces.  They are designed to hold about 10 pounds of hard glass, at 2350 degrees.  This keeps the glass somewhat molten, allowing us to dip tubing and cane to achieve some effects that cannot be achieved any other way.  Turns out Morris has never worked with glass that has come directly out of a furnace before.  Interesting that I walked in the door when I did.