Anyone who has ever complained about too much heat in the kitchen has likely never spent time in a glass blowing studio. While an oven full of food might burn as hot as 500 degrees, the furnaces used in glass blowing can glow hotter than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the past 10 years, award-winning glass artists Jared and Nicole Davis with the North Fork Rim Glass Studio in Crawford have opened their studio and gallery doors for demonstrations following the annual Parade of Lights. With the large garage doors to the studio open and the cool night air drifting in, it stays quite warm.
The event brings some people back year after year, and attracts new visitors, all of whom watch in amazement as glass is transformed into beautiful objects of art. "It's fun for them," said Nicole Davis. "But it's fun for us, too. We get to see it, vicariously, through their eyes for the first time."
Crawford glass artist Rick Steckel assists in the annual demonstrations. Steckel and wife Kathy opened K Dahl Glass Studios in Crawford in 1991. They ran a glass-blowing studio for several years and now specialize in stained glass, architectural art glass, etched and beveled glass, and restoration and repair work.
Once a year, said Steckel, he brushes up on his glass-blowing skills by helping with the demonstrations.
Last Friday the three artists created an amber glass hurricane lamp, a multi-colored platter, and life-sized glass antlers that will be a part of a 24-antler chandelier. North Rim Glass is donating the piece to the Tough Enough To Wear Pink breast cancer awareness campaign, said Nicole Davis.
Throughout the demonstration the artists answer questions and explain processes like sprinkling baking soda on molten glass to create a bubbling effect.
Jared Davis was introduced to the art of glass blowing at K Dahl Glass Studio. He literally walked into the studio the same day the Steckels' assistant had quit, said Nicole. He went on to apprentice under Swedish glass masters including Jan Erik Ritzan, under whom Steckel also studied.
North Rim Glass's Southwest-inspired works are found in collections throughout Colorado and the U.S. Their first local installation, two glass mandalas from North Rim's "Jupiter Series," are among more than 40 locally-made works of art on permanent exhibit at the West Elk Clinic at Hotchkiss. The two mandalas flank the glass doors at the front entrance to the clinic.
Located at 191 Hwy. 92, North Rim welcomes visitors. They will make every attempt to accommodate requests for demonstrations if people call ahead, said Nicole. They also teach all levels of classes for individuals and small groups. "Families love it," she said. "It's a great way to experience the art."