When we began the process of designing The Shelter glassware, I had only witnessed glass blowing a few times as a kid. I recalled the basic principles, but only in a hazy memory.
I met Joe Grant, the director of Starworks’ glass program on my first visit to Star. He is a welcoming being, immediately bringing me into the studio to work through our mud-hut inspired shapes. A natural teacher, he walked me through the possibilities and limitations of the medium as he began blowing our first glasses. Joe worked alongside two interns to shape the molten glass. The team of three used tools such a metal rod called a punty to hold the glass, wooden paddles to apply pressure and flatten the bubble, and metal tweezers to create the curved shape. I was deeply struck by not only Joe’s talent, but the communal dance it took to make this one humble vessel. Joe explained to me that glass has a memory. So with every turn of the glass bubble, and every bit of pressure applied by the paddle, the glass will respond and remember. This is an advantage and the challenge of working with this material. Watching the interaction of movement, air, and temperature with glass seems to be not only a science, but a mystical experience. You can guide the glass, but it is ultimately in control. Joe instantly struck me as a glass tamer, like he was guiding a lion in a cage! Hard to explain, but when you are forming a 2000 degree ball of melted glass into a delicate, intentional shape, it shows a very commanding side to ones personality.
Joe has a MFA from Virgina Commonwealth University, and is a passionate educator, not only at Starworks, but has also taught at reputable centers such as Penland School of Crafts, Appalachian State University, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and was the visiting assistant professor, running the glass program at Illinois State University.
If you have a piece of Shelter glass, then you have a piece of work either made or oversaw by Joe. We are honored to work with such a talented and giving artist.
You can follow Joe and see more of his work on his instagram @JOEGRANTGLASS
Joe’s favorite parts of his job:
What I love most about my job is that I get to work with an amazing team, and I get to work with artists from all over the country and the world.
My favorite thing about glass is its transformative nature. While working with glass I get to see it go from a molten liquid to a solid over and over = magic!
What inspires him:
My wife Tracy Greene is an amazing textile designer, artist, and seriously hard worker. She inspires me all the time!
Inspiring scientists: Aubrey DeGray and Ray Kurzweil
Authors: Paul Auster, Jonathan Franzen,
Artists: Josiah Mcelhenny, Terry Winters, Jack Wax, Rex Ray
Photos by Artisanal Aperture.