In any tourist trap, amusement part, arts festival or fair, they can be found. They are usually in the form of hand blown glass trinkets, doodads that catch the eye. Maybe the glass is a sleeping dog or tiny basket which ends up cracking before you get home. These items are often mass produced, created by people who classify these items as “glass art”. Nothing could be further than the truth of course. Many times, these glass works created at these tourist traps are not created with strong glass, nor are they annealed, which is what makes glass much stronger.
I hoped an explanation existed that explained the mass of delicate garbage available in almost every convenience store between wrestling magazines and the motor oil. What I was looking for was glass sculptures that possessed some genuine character and beauty. Fortunately for me, my quest did not take me to some obscure country and mountain retreat of Buddhist sects searching for enlightenment through glass blowing. Nor did I even have to travel to an Eastern Bloc nation where some banned artist was creating glittering works of protest. Instead, my journey took me barely two miles from my house to a local glassblowing shop where glass art is hand crafted by a few master glassblowers.
So what is different from furnace glassblowers, which is how the tourist trap glass often gets created, and the hand blown glass art which is found at many glassblowing studios? For starters, furnace glassblowers are very limited by assembling different parts into their pieces. Maybe the bowls, vases and glasses they create are pleasing to the eye when you gaze upon them, but you must understand that they are created from a base mold and simply placed into an oven to finish. There is really very little can be added to these items, which tends to take away from the creative aspect of an artist. A glassblower who uses his breathe and a blowtorch to custom make glass art is a totally different situation. These types of glassblowers truly are artist, since they must dream up the creations, and work with smaller pieces of glass to create a finished form.