In mid-January I spent a week in Eugene with the multi-talented glass artist, business entrepreneur, and Champs Glass Games Coordinator Matty White. I was finally able to experience Oregon in the cold, wet, and soggy climate for which it is famous. While I was there I attended the first annual Oregon Glass Celebration at Cornerstone, and learned about the creative process of glass fusing. This is a continuation of a spotlight on Matty three years ago in issue #2.
Matty picked me up for our first meeting. I realize how busy he is on a typical day. Coordinating details about the upcoming Glass Games, scheduling a collaborative heady project, checking in on his production crew and working on unique glass fusing trophies consumes the day. Matty’s twenty years of experience in the glass art scene is reflected in the well thought-out and established work flow that his studio in Crow, Oregon has produced.
As an artist myself, I was very interested in the creative process of glass fusing. There is a lot of creativity and preparation involved within the aspects of the untraditional method of fusing. Assembling this balance requires a sense of design using a combination of materials, colors, and techniques that culminates in a well-orchestrated piece. While documenting this process, it was difficult for me to see what the end result would be. Before long Matty had me sorting out colored frit for the sherlock design trophies he was putting together for the game awards. Matty said, ‘Try picking me out some of the more round ones so that they look like dots”. Bouncing between his production studio, making sure things were running smoothly, scheduling the fabrication of the trophies, and participating in his family’s activities appeared business as usual for him.
Matty is a devoted father, so attending his son’s and daughter’s school sport activities is a priority for him. Although he was a featured artist at Cornerstone’s Oregon Glass Celebration he didn’t arrive until late that night because he was in attendance at his son’s high school wrestling match.
His focus on both his family and the local glass community is the daily ritual that fuels him. The next day we took a trip to pick up a crucible from Marcel Braun and then back to the studio to prep the kilns for the clear and cobalt color pull for the upcoming days ahead. As we get closer to completing the first five awards the excitement mounts. As they take shape I begin to appreciate the passion and patience involved in the process. The next step is putting them in to the oversized kiln specially designed for these kinds of projects.
As my week-long trip winds down, after visiting a couple of shops and running around in Oregon’s glass blowing mecca, I get to document a collaboration between Matty, Bob Snodgrass, Hugh, Bob Badtram and Oliver Glad. There’s a common bond between the community of gifted, talented, and supportive glass artists in and around the “Duck City,” that is evident when a group of them get together to create unique pieces. It is a labor of love that inspires one to share this passion while enjoying time together. Before leaving the next morning and after a high energy night of creating masterful skull pipes, Matty and I slip out to Crow to see the finished work. After finally seeing the result, I was able to appreciate the art of glass fusing. It was the end of a long, tiring and productive day. The week seemed to have gone by in a blur but I was still eager to return.
- To what do you attribute the growth of your shop over the last three years?
Although the growth has slowed down due to my involvement with running the Champs shows, I believe that the success of the shop comes from it being project-driven. We have focused on making awards for both glass shows and art shows. We have also made signs for different head shops and architectural and wall art style projects. We have crossed over to hot shop work in the furnace making cups, vases and paperweights.
During these past shows, I was probably one of the few if not the only glass blower to have sold boro pipes, skulls with Bob Snodgrass, tackle boxes, plus fused-bowls, awards, soft
glass cups, vases and paperweights all made with my own hands. To be able to run a booth at the show, a 34 person glass competition, create and sell three kinds of glass demonstrates my true love for the glass industry. I attribute the growth of my shops to this love and my determination to be multi-faceted and open to different projects in the glass world.
- What do you see as your future creative process?
My future is never clear. I have more ideas than time and more equipment than I can use by myself. I would love to work with other great artists to open up my world. I would also love to ﬁnd more time to play in my only artwork studio as I am currently mostly focused on my next show for Champs. I am doing a new emerging artist show in Atlantic City and competing in the upcoming DFO. That is my near future.
My long term plan for my Crow shop is to keep making awards, tables, artwork and soft glass pieces. I would like to play and do what feels right — melting glass, cutting, grinding, sand blasting and carving. Or creating any other beautiful thing in glass that drives me to do more stuff. It never ends. Just wait and see or come play. Anyone who has come to my shops knows that I expect all hands on deck. If you are there, you are helping and playing, too.