We are dedicated to the advancement of today's glass artist through educational series via our podcast, blog posts, online video courses and downloadable PDF forms. Each segment has its own unique offering, giving You the artist, a vault of knowledge that can be used to establish a strong foundation in Lamp Working techniques as well as business fundamentals to help guide you on your journey towards becoming a successful Artistic Entrepreneur.
I began this glass journey in the Spring of 1999 apprenticing under sculptor Gordon Key who had worked the Renaissance Tour for close to 30-years. The first 6-months of the apprenticeship saw zero torch time as I had to prove my worthiness by showing a good work ethic and dedication to the team. Early on I did a ton of assembling finished work by filling small hand-blown bottle pendants with glitter, attaching jump rings and tying a silk chord which in turn became a sellable necklace. This was just one of the many items I worked on as well as daily duties like cleaning the shop and making sure the artists had plenty of raw materials prepped and ready to use. After 6-months the hard work began to pay off as I was finally allowed to turn on a torch which was a 3a National hand torch. This was the introduction I had been waiting for and soon began to learn tear drop pendants and some basic fundamental lampworking techniques that built the foundation I stand upon today, even after 19-years. Having been introduced to the glass pipe during this tenure it sparked my curiosity regarding how to make pipes but my heart really wanted to learn the sculptural techniques that initially had drawn me to the flame in the first place.
My apprenticeship ended after a year as the Renaissance tour began and the crew went back on the road. So I went home, set up a small studio on the back porch and began to figure a few things out. Eventually I made a trip up to Atlanta,Ga. where I worked under artist Daniel Sharp for around 3-months where he taught me basic pipe making fundamentals. During this time period I wanted to soak up as much knowledge as possible while making a little bit of money and learning the sales aspect of pipe making as well. Eventually my time was up and it was then that I drove back to Florida to be with my daughter and family and began to try to remake the items that we made in Daniel's basement for the last 3-months. From this point it was apparent that the real struggle wasn't going to be learning the process of making glass pipes but the sales and business side of it. I knew driving from shop to shop wasn't the way to go. Especially living in Florida where the shops wanted cheap items that the tourists could buy and throw away after their vacation was over. This led to the influx of imports and my need to find a solution. This then led to meeting my future distributor who took me under his wing and helped me establish price points for my work but also some good business fundamentals. Over the first 13-years of my glass career I had great successes and failures in glass and life. Growing up in an industry that was growing up as well taught me alot about myself and the direction I truly wanted to go in. Remembering childhood dreams that had disappeared into my adulthood were necessary to remember to get the spark needed to continue to pursue this medium of glass. This spark grew into a vision that I made sure was never lost again.
During a visit to Walt Disney world in 2007 I stumbled into a store on Mainstreet USA that had a lampworking station in the front of the shop and a hotshop in the back. Having no idea this was even done at Disney I found two guys in the back of the store chatting and asked them who the glass artists were. They said they were and that started a conversation that lasted for an hour. Before leaving the store and finding my wife at the time and our daughter patiently waiting outside the shop I mentioned to the artist David Sandidge that if they ever had an opening that this would be a dream job. He shot me down by saying I'd hate it as all they did was production. I answered right back letting him know that's all I had done for the last decade and would love the opportunity. We became friends and stayed in touch over the next 5-years till one day he contacted me to make me aware they had an opening. I immediately made a phone call to the department manager at Arribas to find out the details and let him know that I was their guy.
This led me to drive 100 miles out to Orlando on several occasions to meet with The Arribas Brothers company and see what they were all about. In the Fall of 2012 I was officially hired joining their team and working on stage as a demonstrating glass artists showing the visiting guests the amazing art of lampworking. Jumping at this amazing opportunity and childhood dream of being an artist at Disney World, my career felt like it truly began. For the first 5-years I drove 90-minute commutes into work and to help make the drive easier I discovered and began listening to podcasts and audiobooks. This gave me the idea and inspired me to launch my own podcast. The idea was to help the new glass artists with topics of studio setup, health, law and business topics that pertained to the glass world while also sharing the stories of artists in the industry. Many who have made a name for themselves as well as artists who didn't quite have a name but still have an incredible story to share.
Through hours of hard work and dedication to the medium of glass I've had amazing opportunities cross my path. Some were the right place at the right time situations but most have been because of my willingness to ask questions. All the No's" eventually led to the occasional "Yes". Each "Yes" one one step closer to fulfilling childhood dreams and learning the ins and outs of creating, producing, and publishing a weekly podcast.
Don't be afraid to ask questions and when you see doors open make sure you run through them Those doors may only be open for you and if you don't go through them you'll never know what is waiting for you on the other side.
Thank you for taking time to visit the site and please feel free to contact me with any questions..... Jason Michael