The Daily Times
SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — From a roaring furnace, a miniature volcano of sorts at Salisbury University, Riley Greenwood pulled a glob of molten glass at the end of a blow pipe. Yet he saw a finished vase, shining all smooth and hard. It was the same furnace from which his award-winning pieces came, all of which began as flowing, glowing balls of thick, molasses-like soft glass.
The studio, which has been operating at the university since 1998, now has 38 students in the elective course. There are furnaces that bring the ingredients for glass to a molten state and students blow, twirl, roll and mold liquid glass into objects d’art. The university has the only glass-blowing studio among colleges and universities in the state.
Greenwood, 22, an art major, said it was love at first sight when he ventured into the glass studio to take what he thought would be a forgettable elective class. It changed his life.
“This is addicting, the danger or something keeps you coming back. I worked with ceramics and sculpture, but one semester I got pulled into SU’s glass studio and never left,” he said.
In his hand he held a finished piece, a large circular object with two pulled out “ears” on opposite sides of the rim. It is a piece that won top honors in a recent student art show.
“I call it `Blue Cream.’ It can be used, but it’s art, to be shown as a stand-up plate. It could be used, but it was made to be displayed,” Greenwood said. “Like some of my other pieces, it can be abstract, yet functional if you wanted it to be.”
The plate, which the artist describes as having been made with a “double bar drop (an overlay of color over another colors) of Coefficient 96 (a type of compatibility glass) from The Corning Batch Glass Co. I used two of their colors, blue and saffron, to produce a colored mix.” It won in the senior art show in the Guerrieri Center and was displayed in the Fulton Hall gallery.
The senior won three top honors for his work: the President’s Art Award in Hot Glass, the Blackwell Library Prize for Student Art Work and Best in Show for Hot Glass with his entries “Macaw,” “Blue Cream” and “Drip.”
“When I graduate, I hope to work for a production studio. In the glass world, you just don’t jump into being an independent professional artist right out of college. I want to work for a studio that makes utilitarian pieces, that will teach me technique. Then I want to get a master’s degree in glass and teach,” Greenwood said. “I don’t want to be a working artist as much as I want to teach. I want people to learn that glass blowing is an art, not a craft. People have thought of glass blowers as a craft by craftsman, rather than artists. While we make utilitarian objects, we are not potters and tinsmiths. I tend to make things flashier, but utilitarian.”
Yet the student does understand the job limitations for glass blowers in the real world.
“I understand I am a `glass blower,’ and there isn’t a whole lot of opportunity out there. I feel I could make a living by making utilitarian art, but not by making just art pieces,” he said. “The more extreme examples of abstract art would just sit in my house, I need to make things that are `arty’ but can be used. I think people want to use what they buy.”
The artist presents and sells his work at area craft fairs and art shows in Maryland and Delaware. His next show is planned for autumn.
“This is stuff people can afford. In my brain, the price is set by taking in costs for materials, my time and labor, color ingredients, and sometimes I charge a little extra for custom-made pieces. It is affordable, one-of-a-kind piece of art,” Greenwood said.
His award-winning pieces were purchased by the university and will remain on permanent display.
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., http://www.delmarvanow.com/
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)