Last weekend, I went to an art festival, saw some really cool pieces of blown glass and got to talk to the booth operator about my love of glass. Since then, the subject of glass blowing has come up many times in my circle of friends on social media, so for days I’ve been telling about the things I’ve seen during my travels. As I pondered some of those things this morning, I found myself shocked that I’ve never written a travel post about one of the very best days of my life; it’s not going to compete with my wedding day or the birth of my children, but it was certainly a favorite as far as rare opportunities go.
Dale Chihuy is a name most glass enthusiasts know; I’ve seen his work in many places throughout the United States and the Bahamas, including a little restaurant in San Diego called Saffron. The owner is a friend of Dale Chihuly’s and you can go in and see some of his creations on display.
I readily admit that I am a fan of Chihuly’s work, but I didn’t even get to go to the Chihuly Museum when I was in Seattle last spring. I didn’t feel too badly about missing it though because I’ve seen his work in so many other places.
See more here:
Chihuly in Tacoma
Chihuly is, however, always a good subject when talking with other artists and maybe other glass artists get tired of hearing his name, but at least they know that I’m not JUST one of those “oh isn’t that pretty” kind of people. I do pay attention to the process and this occasionally offers me the opportunity to talk more “shop talk” with them since I don’t blow glass myself.
In 2010, I met just such a glass artist when we were strolling around Balboa Park and wandered into his Spanish Village shop. It was kind of a slow day all around so we got to talk to Marty Marshall about glass blowing and also Dale Chihuly, of course; during our conversation, he gave us the heads up about Saffron. Then, seemingly out of the blue, Marty told us that he was going to be in his hot shop later that week and invited us to come watch. I almost couldn’t believe it! We’re almost always up for an educational opportunity and took him up on his invitation. I took a lot of photos and my son video-taped most of our time there.
We saw the process, experienced the heat, and got to smell the smells. Yes, there are smells. Smells like burning wet wood mixed with essential oils. And did I mention the HEAT??? Fortunately, we had a cool breezy day, but the furnace and the annealing oven throw off A LOT of heat! Glass blowing is HOT work –which includes burns if you get complacent. It pays to pay attention. They also have a heck of an electric bill!!! This, clearly, is not an art form I ever want to engage in, but I still find it thrilling to watch others create.
Marty and Mike Marentic did a wonderful job narrating the steps, telling us about their tools and answering all of our many questions. We had a couple of hours of complete fascination and education; it remains one of my favorite memories of a lifetime.
Marshall Arts Glass
See a brief video of Mike here: