The Oil Pit Studio Spotlight
Shuhbuh (Chris Drury), Reverend (James Wilson)
More than half of my family were born in the “Valley of the Sun” — Phoenix, Arizona. My father was born in Superior, where my grandfather died in a mine shaft on his birthday in 1927. I’ve spent a lot time in this state, both as a teenager and an adult, visiting with relatives and my daughter. Needless to say, it holds a special place in my heart. Down a little bit more south in “The Old Pueblo” — Tucson — there are a handful of glass artists who have carved their path in this industry. One studio in particular, “The Oil Pit”, has served as a beacon and attracted artists from throughout the region. Shuhbuh runs this workshop with a mindset that involves countless hours and energy in making his signature cylindrical/elongated donut designs. The commitment to his craft has allowed him to become his own boss and develop as an artist living a lifestyle he enjoys on a daily basis. He and his shop-mate, James, host numerous fellow glass artists in creating various collaborations incorporating styles that complement each other. Whether it’s the Tucson Glass Collaboration, The Arizona Glass Project, or Desert Fire Charity Drive, Shuhbuh and Reverend are eager participants in workshops and demonstrations, sharing time with other like-minded artists. The results make a positive impact in the local community by generating revenue through contributions from sponsors and supporters, creating glass art that is auctioned for charities. The common traits that they share with many other successful artists in the Southwest desert region of Arizona are their hard work, dedication and focus.
Where are you from and when did you to start blowing glass?
Shuhbuh: I’m from Flagstaff, Arizona and currently reside in Tucson. I started blowing glass in
November of 2010.
You follow in the footsteps of some very talented artists out of the Tucson area. How did they help
your development as a glass artist?
Shuhbuh: Oh yeah. There is so much talent in this town, it’s crazy! I’d say every glass blower I had a chance to meet for the first few years of my career has had something to do with my development as a glass artist. It all started with how to do a restriction to techniques on how to spin the glass, and even as something simple as how to look at a specific piece. Sounds pretty basic, but these are vital steps a lot of people skip. I also wasn’t just taught how to blow glass, but how to build a shop, sell glass, and how to produce glass on a level that can make my earnings comparable to an average middle-class American’s.
What is the story behind the name of your studio?
Shuhbuh: Ha ha, yeah, “The Oil Pit”… Well, contrary to popular belief (and how much we medicate), its not what you think it is. We used to share a shop with a race car team and, as you can imagine it wasn’t the cleanest shop in Tucson. As time went on we just started calling it “The Oil Pit” and it stuck… no pun intended. We have since moved shops but the name lives on!
What elements are distinctive about your style and designs?
Shuhbuh: I think everyone mostly relates my work to the horizontal can I use to make “The Shubbler”. My work is also related to the hollow cylinder or elongated donut for the center portion. I have a lot of new things coming out this year. I decided to take somewhat of a scientific approach to the shubbler. At the same time I’m going in another direction and designing a pendant with it. I’m really stoked on the new designs and hope they do well. My heart has always been into sculpting with glass which I’m looking forward to doing a lot of this year as well.
How has “The Oil Pit” served as a beacon that has attracted artists throughout the region?
Shuhbuh: When we first moved, it was our mission to do as many collaborations as possible to get the word out and help build upon the glass community in Arizona. There are a lot of glass blowers here in this region with a boatload of determination. I’m happy to be a part of this and hope the rest of the country is ready for what we have to show!
What is the message you want to get out there about your documentary on YouTube?
Shuhbuh: The biggest message that I wanted to get through in the documentary is about courage.
Whether it is glass, painting, music, or whatever you enjoy, you must be fearless. If you have a drive to work for yourself and be your own boss, don’t be afraid to do it. Hard work and determination will get you whatever you want and sometimes it will take you to the breaking point, but that’s when success tastes it’s sweetest.
Describe the responsibilities of running your workshop
Shuhbuh: It’s just the regular stuff, like things as simple as staying on top of the O2 (which doesn’t always work out as some of my friends know). Cleaning the shop and making sure the bills are paid on time, and handling the shipping and receiving are important. With help, I try to keep it simple and as relaxed as a
work environment can be, with nothing too crazy going on.
What are the objectives of the Tucson Glass Collaborative?
Shuhbuh: Our objectives are to blow glass, have fun, and work with someone with whom you can create a piece of art while enjoying the entire process. It’s whatever you make it out to be. Fathead (Micah Blatt) came to me and said “Let’s hashtag Tucson Glass Collaborative and see what all the awesome glass people make when they collab. It’ll be fun!” It sounded like a good idea to me so I went with it. Honestly, it’s the
best excuse to go work with a buddy I’ve experienced in a long time!
Who are some of the artists you like to collaborate with and why?
Shuhbuh: I like to collaborate with my shop-mate Reverend. Ha ha! For some reason we never get to collab. Other than that, I’d say Eusheen and Banjo because I think about their artwork every time I get
behind the torch.
What are some of your other interests when not laboring in the studio?
Shuhbuh: I like playing the guitar, or anything that makes noise. Besides that, anyone who knows
me could tell you that I basically blow glass and sleep.