Visiting Carlsbad’s Barrio Glassworks poses a risk, but not from a 2,125-degree furnace that keeps melting 300 pounds of melted glass in the heart of an outdoor studio, gallery, or shop.
Seen from the observation area, fascinated by the artist, the melted material is blown off and stretched, for example, a gray glass swell inspired by the piled stones on the beach, or a large bowl of tea color. In, it may come. In white.
A gallery where you can visit resident artist Stephen Chezuki to buy glass sculptures, including a spotted bowl made by Tallinn Jane, a glass butterfly made by Nick McGuire, and the gray glass currently sitting on top. It may come in the form of temptation at or in the shop. A red container of egg-shaped lipstick. (The butterfly attracted one patron, so he started with one, but now he sees a butterfly flight on the wall of the condo.)
Barrio Glassworks, a public blown glass studio and retail gallery in the historic Barrio community of Carlsbad Village, was started by Mary Devlin, Gary Ruskin, and her son, the glassblower Drewraskin.
Barrio Glassworks staff will guide you to twist, pinch, and poke colored glass with long, pointed tongs (called tweezers) as the glass cools. There can also be risks when making paper weights with. Consistency from honey to toffee to rock candy.
It’s an experience I’ve discovered directly, and it’s as intoxicating as difficult. It also hits a long rod (called a panty rod) holding a paper weight with a wooden dowel, and when the glass is completely peeled off, not shattered, and burning like a baseball-sized earth, my It was the most satisfying blow in my life.
This is all the risk of fascination, temptation and addiction: being bitten by a blown glass bug.
The bite is the origin of Vario Glassworks, which was opened in December 2020 by Mary Devlin and Gary Ruskin with their son Drew Ruskin in Carlsbad’s oldest residential area, Barrio.
When their family visited the famous glass blower in Murano, Italy 10 years ago, Drew was the first to be bitten. When still in high school, he went home and took a blown glass class in Seattle.
“It was one of those moments as a parent to see the magic happen …” said Devlin. “And on the way, I understood it a bit.”
As she and Gary approached the end of their career (she was an HBO lawyer, he was the founder of Colors by Design’s greeting cards and stationery company), Drew had graduated from college in California, so soon the family I started talking about opening my own glass studio at the University of the Arts in Oakland.
“I talked to enough people who said it had to be this model if they really wanted to,” Devlin said. “You have to be everything for everyone. You need a component that you create yourself. You need to rent another artist and you need a gallery in the $ 25- $ 10,000 price range. “
The couple, who lived in Los Angeles at the time, eventually found a place to create the model in Carlsbad Village. Barrio Glassworks has a hot shop with a viewing section where rosters of artists like Jayne visit every week to make glass, as well as shops selling glass sculptures and unique glassware for homes and gardens. There is also a gallery displaying works by internationally renowned artists such as Ciezki, Kazuki Takizawa and Nao Yamamoto (introduced in the glass-blown “Blown Away” Netflix series).
The website barrioglassworks.com includes an artist schedule for the week and online sign-up for your own paperweight sessions.
Last month, a woman attended one session and enrolled in three more sessions in a row. Devlin knows that not everyone who visits will be like that, but hopes that his experience will enhance their understanding of the complexity of crafts and the variety of glass.
Asked what the visit would bring to designers, architects, or the people who decorate the house, she said, “One is to reassure them about what they have to pay for the glass.” I did.
She also commissioned artists to give them the opportunity to see new ways in which glass is used as a sculpture in the garden and as a wall art such as the glass panels currently on display by Ciezki. I did.
Ciezki describes the many steps required to create a panel as follows: Then cut the cylinder in half. Then, place the rounded surface on the shelf of the kiln and heat it to about 1,300 degrees. And it slowly flattens. And after it cooled, we got this canvas, this glass canvas. “
His wife has a pilot’s license, which influenced the panel “Skyhawk”. “This is this little little Cessna sandblasted into this little faded blue panel. And the mountains at the bottom. This bright red line outlines the mountain line and the vibrations of the retina cross the mountain. It catches the eye. “
The couple spends time between Phoenix, who builds a mid-century modern home and studio, and Carlsbad, who influenced his “Meditation” series. “A series of stacked stones, like a cylindrical base with stacked stones on top, inspired by a walk on the beach where the sidewalk was washed away. There is a tree stump on which someone stacks the stones. Was. “
He found that blown glass was meditative “like the process of stacking stones and balancing rocks.”
He also likes teamwork, especially on large projects that require an assistant. “It’s very similar to sports, like team sports.”
Jayne, who worked with blown glass partner Logan Nash Groupé in a brown bowl, agrees. “We really know what others need and how they work.”
Groupé said he especially likes the way glass and light are closely related. “I personally like many home decors like barware and kitchen sets. It’s something you can appreciate in a house, especially in a bright room. The shadows of the glass and the color of the walls.”
For Jane, she thinks about colors before she thinks about the types of glasswork she makes. She said, “I’m mainly drawn in colors and patterns, and then I think of the shapes that best display it.”
One of the challenges for glass artists like Jane is color. She sees her true color only when she adds a little powder or colored glass to the clear melted glass. After it is heated to be blown or shaped, it is the color of the fire and she has to rely on her expertise and imagination to process the glass into the colors and patterns she imagines. ..
Jane drives from San Diego twice a week to work at Variograss Works. This is primarily due to Devlin’s mission to open blown glass to underrated artists, especially women. “One of the main reasons I love the studio so much is Mary. She’s an amazing, amazing woman and a respected power. And she’s involved in the community to nurture and introduce artists. And her idea of promoting a woman in glass. “
Devlin’s vision already has its own studio, but it attracts glass blowers that are fascinated by the community sensibilities offered by Vario Glassworks.
Lina Ferensen, who works with Michael Maddy at Vista’s Mad Art Studio, sells some of their brightly colored whimsical pieces of glass at Barrio Glassworks. Like Drew, she digs into Murano and returns to San Diego, wondering, “Where can I learn this?”
Like many at Barrio Glassworks, she started with the famous Palomar College blown glass program. Ferensen sees Carlsbad’s studio as another opportunity for blown glass students and the entire community.
“It’s great. I can’t even say how excited I was when I heard that this place was open,” she said. “San Diego’s having a place like this here is what makes the dream of a glass blower come true.”
Sophy Chaffee is an Encinitas-based freelance writer.