#2 from the day of working with Alex Abajian and Ivan Mora

(written from the perspective of a glass-layperson)

This was one of the most exciting projects that I have been able to witness at the Glass Studio so far. The teamwork among these glassmakers is really great, there is a huge amount of competency coupled with fantastic working atmosphere. The day is spent working incredibly hard with serious concentration and yet there is always a surprise moment when Alex’s intelligent sense of humour gives occasion for laughter and short refreshing relief. I have rarely seen people work so incredibly well together as here at Glow Glass Studio in Oakland.

Alex Abajian holding the blowpipe with the large body cast glass (project for Ivan Mora)

Witnessing this process and the attitudes the makers and artists here have with each other has done a lot for my appreciation of the craft and technical skills-manship but also is taking dusting influence over both Jason and my (Birgit’s) future choices of places to live and creative paths to pursue.

Having this opportunity to be here is incredible. Seeing all this hard work affects hugely how I, as an artist and glass-layperson, am able to appreciate this material and the possible forms of expression. Coming from a conceptual arts background it is refreshing to be surrounded by the down to earth labour these creatives are bringing to the table each day.

Jason torching the large glass body cast to keep it at even temperature to protect it from cracking before it can be placed into the annealer for a day long, controlled cooling process.. Project by Glass Artist: Ivan Mora
Jason torching the large glass body cast to keep it at even temperature to protect it from cracking before it can be placed into the annealer for a day long, controlled cooling process.. Project by Glass Artist: Ivan Mora

After witnessing just how much dedication and years of skill are required to excel in this field, seeing the amount of dedication as well as equipment required to build a smooth running glassblowing workshop changed my perception a lot. The value of glass in our society is huge, this is an age old but simultaneously incredibly fresh and contemporary medium that can teach us something about the value of an object that a China or Mexico produced (knocked out) mass ware item will never be able to.

When you see or hold handblown glass there is a connection that you will not experience with mass market products. In theory wine, juice or water should taste the same out of every drinking glass for example, however in practice: if you have any sensibility at all then the experience of drinking from a handmade vessel will be far superior and infinitely more pleasurable than from a  throwaway valued glass or paper cup..

Alex Abajian holding the blowpipe with the large body cast glass (project for Ivan Mora)Don’t let the price fool you: you will receive what you pay for. A lifelong heirloom treasure or an anonymous object that is the same the world over…

Back to Ivan Mora: look him up! He is a really successful artist making his way in the world; quite literally globally! And all the while he is also a real pleasure to speak with. This is the best combination in an artist isn’t it? Talent, success and absence of attitude. Brilliant stuff!

A flash from the past when Jason was full time employed making glass…

Being employed full time...
Being employed full time…

A flash from the past when Jason was full time employed making glass for somebody else than himself. He used to make ornamental pumpkins, apples and pears, some vessels, some special projects. In the 6 years with his previous employers Jason quickly rose to head gaffer (aka: head maker) which means that he was the one holding the highest responsibility for that each glass product is finished exactly as designed.

The high pressure work environment left a couple of physical injuries but also gave Jason complete confidence in his skills as a technically competent maker.

glassmaker’s tools in the glass studio

glassmaker's tools in the glass studio
glassmaker’s tools in the glass studio

Here are a selection of tools made especially for working with hot molten glass as well as some more familiar ones that you will recognise from home diy projects.

On the far left is a cork yoga block that Jason cut into half, glued to a sheet of plywood and turned into a tool that can shape molten glass. He often uses this one when he is making blown glass chestnuts for example. Keep an eye on other studio photographs and you might spot him using it. He calls this a cork paddle.

Jason adds a very special new product to his collection of handblown glass! #3

pattuto drinking glass
Battuto drinking glass, made by Jason Stropko

A very special drinking glass, a style of which not many exist anywhere (because it requires time consuming multiple work steps to great and there is no other way of creating it..)

The process is called battuto. The glass is first blown into a mould to create ripple lines, blown a little thicker than usual. Then annealed overnight. Then the glass is ground with special glass grinding wheels, a process that in total take around 2 hours in the hands on making + the annealing time. THEN the glass is hot torched to soften the ground glass edges and sandy appearance. Then the glass is once more annealed and finally examined to check if the desired affect was achieved.

The total time worked and equipment used accounts for the uniqueness and price of this luxury, special occasion item! We are thinking about developing a full table set of these battuto glasses to offer at gallery price to the right person.

Today in the studio

spending the day developing project ideas and making more of the blown glass table set items.. drinking glasses, bowls and functional vessels will be ready soon!

The process benefits tremendously from teamwork. Good communication, a sense of humour a steady hand and years of skill are all requires from both the gaffer (Jason) and his assistant; today Evan Kolker who is an incredible glassmaker, on other days Jason assist him in the making of his intricate and highly technical skill requiring glass art objects! It is a real stroke of luck that Jason found this glassmakers community. Where many colleagues also have very high skills levels. There is also Alex Abajian, the studio owner and another outstanding glassmaker. A series of glassmakers rent the studio and there are a lot of fantastic projects happening here. You wouldn’t know what you are missing until you see what these people make out of molten glass..

these are the tools of the day…

Preview of one of the latest additions to the line of Jason Stropko’s glass works…

Small sample vases that double as mini servings wine jugs..
Small sample vases that double as mini servings dessert wine decanters..

Fresh from the Glass Studio are these sample vases / wine decanters. Beautifully made, elegant and intricate but not too fragile for daily use.

So many amazing new projects starting to come into shape for the Autumn and Winter Season…

Jason is working overtime and then some more, we are pulling out all the stops that we can to create an amazing line of projects which are covering :
* seasonal objects
** the continuation of the nuts and seeds in glass;
*** 1 each of basic and an exclusive home ware line;
**** and the beautiful objects of Art, the first of which we are introducing in this post.
Sometimes it takes this much dedication, a leap of faith, compromises, and the sacrifice of movie nights to make a dream career take off! We are not flying yet but we believe the chances are strong.. What do you think?
Introducing the first Lidded Jar that will contribute towards an Art Installation in late 2016 (more on that later).
Decorative and functional jar that can serve as a flower vase, as a jar for treats or let your imagination run free.
Jason is making a line of these bulbous, voluptuous, ornate yet contour line, luxurious vessels for our homeware collection. (& art project, too…)
The making of one of these jars requires an above intermediate level of glassmaking skills and sincere dedication to the process. This is not something that a glassmaker can learn in a short timespan but instead takes years of professional engagement with the medium to build the technical ability as well as confidence and understanding that working with hot glass requires to shape it into such a controlled and elegant form.
This line of jars is part of a larger project of Art Objects that will culminate in an Art installation in the future.
We look forward to sharing these projects with you. Please make sure to sign up to our mailing list, which you can do by texting Jason your email address and we will manually add you until our contact forms work across our online platforms. As a member of our mailing list you will be the first to know when Jason when new projects become available for purchase.



Glassblowing Classes

Jason (on the right) teaching glassmaking to a private student

Jason (on the right) teaching glassmaking to a private student

Private and group glass blowing classes

currently teaching public classes at Public Glass in San Francisco, The Crucible in Oakland and private classes at Glow Glass Studio in Oakland, Ashby area. For costs please select the tab above labelled: