A week prior to the March 2013 C.H.A.M.P.S. show in Las Vegas, NV, I received a phone call from the legendary Marcel Braun founder of Living Glass Works and Project 33. He relayed to me that he had a Goosefire Gallery show coming up and he would like my permission to use a photo that I had taken on the event’s flyer. Of course, I immediately said “Yes”. While attending C.H.A.M.P.S. I had the honor of meeting Marcel himself. He thanked me for the picture, gave me the flyer for his gallery show, and invited me to Living Glass Works to take part in Project 33 after C.H.A.M.P.S., if I was interested. I honestly had no idea what I was signing up for.
After a two hour flight, I was in Eugene, Orgeon. I was met by Marcel and Chris Famelette, Red Shamrock camera crew in tow. They mic’d me up and then Marcel began to explain, in greater detail, the mission of Project 33. “To be concise about the project is difficult.” He started. “The underlying theme is rebuilding community. We have realized that there needs to be a catalyst for change to more forward, and we must wholeheartedly accept this as our mission and duty. The world has become a place of corporate greed and fabrication; the quality of craftsmanship has diminished steadily over the last 40 years. Planned obsolescence has become a main factor in product design. People are accepting the accumulation of money alone as a good enough reason to expend community resources.” After a twenty minute car ride, we arrived at Project 33 Headquarters also known as The Land of Awesome, home of Living Glass Works and Project 33’s Starship base camp. As we pull in the yard, the operation is in full motion. We went in the house and sat on the couch in the living room where the walls were lined with whiteboards all filled with the different projects going on. It was truly overwhelming.
After we spoke about what Marcel would like from me he handed me over to The Mayor for the tour and introductions. When The Mayor and I walked into the shop, I was completely blown away. In this one room were some of the most talented and innovative glass artist in the world. Dellene Peralta, Arron Siverson, Rob Davis and Eli Howell, all shop mates at Living Glass Works. There was Mike and Deb Philpot, Alex Ubatuba and Quave from Mothership. Calvin “CalM” Mickel; Matty White, founder of MW Studios; Herb and Kraig, founders of Borofarm/In da house; Matt DuBois from RAD Glass; Stucky; Daniel “Action Hippie” Kimmelman of Moon Tower Glass; Buck; Bishop; WyomingMoFo; Trev; BuFo; Evan Braun and the Party-Kart. Everyone collaborating together. In total, there were 13 torches raging and for two weeks, they were burning through two to three liquid tanks a day. As we walked out back to the metal fabrication area, I was introduced to Trent T. Starky and, at that point was handed a grinder and turned loose helping to grind S.E.C.X.C., which I spent several afternoons doing.
To properly broadcast Project 33’s message Marcel and his crew designed “S.E.C.X.C.” (Sacred Economic Currency X-Change). An old International Metro Mite van that had been acquired from Mookie, the chef who catered the event. Marcel and his team of metal workers had been hard at work transforming it into a moving artistic experience, glass gallery, and currency exchange kiosk, ready to travel to events around the world. Everyone involved in the project has contributed to the fabrication of S.E.C.X.C. On one particular day, Bob Snodgrass, Trev and I spent the entire day working together to design infinity mirror boxes. It was truly an amazing experience to spend a whole day with the legend himself, and work through the process of design with him.
As the days went by, more and more beautiful pieces came to fruition and the collection began growing. They were truly awe inspiring. Some of the first I saw came from Alex Ubatuba and Marcel Braun in the form of three collaboration “Warlock” talismans. Later that day, Quave completed the “Rainbow Klein” made entirely out of Marcel’s Rainbow air trap reticello work. Also in the shop was the epic collaboration titled “Singularity” by Marcel, Robert Mickleson and Dellene Peralta completed a few months earlier for the gallery show.
The days were filled with preparations, the charging of the furnaces; the chipping, sorting, and stuffing of the reticello sections. Not only was Marcel making the pieces alongside the artists and building S.E.C.X.C., he took the experience one step further by teaching every one at the shop the process and the science behind his signature air trap reticello technique. Each night, He and Matty White led the charge in making the long white and clear rods that are needed to make the reticello sections, and along with them a symphony of collaborative pipe making would reverberate throughout the shop. Each artist worked their hardest in their attempt to master the technique during their time spent at Living Glassworks.
As the days passed more and more epics emerged from the kiln, including three CalM “Burd” vapor rig collaborations as well as the truly one-of-a-kind “Vice”. A collaboration between CalM, Marcel and Quave, “Vice” is a sherlock and wine glass built into one huge “Burd-like” body. In the days preceeding the big show, the final preparations were being made to ensure the shows maximum magnitude. Marcel spent an entire day creating a magnificent bubbler can, the largest I had ever seen. I wondered what Marcel would do with the classically shaped vessel, and then Buck walked into the shop. That night Buck and Marcel ventured into the unknown as the “Retti Angler” was brought into existence. Using the air trap reticello fish spine that Buck had made a few days earlier, he attached it to Marcel’s newly created can to create the mouthpiece. Around the can Buck constructed a fierce Angler Fish attempting to devour the bubbler in one single gulp.
With little time to spare, everyone began to prepare for our departure to Long Beach. After a long search for a large enough vehicle to transport both our crew and the pieces for the show, we found solace in a Class A RV. I was quickly promoted to Co-Captain of the newly found starship. Before I knew it I found myself behind the wheel of the largest vehicle I had ever driven. If I moved even just a few inches out of my lane I could potentially crush whoever lay in my way. Needless to say it was a tense situation! After a 16 hour non-stop drive from Eugene to Long Beach it was now time to begin setting up the show. That night the sidewalk outside of Goosefire Gallery filled with droves of admiring boro enthusiasts, eager to catch their first glimpse of the project. At 8:00pm the gallery opened it’s doors and they began to rush in. After taking the time to interact with his fans Marcel took the time to make a speech explaining the ethos of Project 33. At the end of the night collectors went home with the pieces they had dreamed of and we all slept soundly in the RV outside the gallery.
– Glass Otaku and Mayor Mike