Expert Glass Blower, Matthew Cummings | HUMAN

Expert Glass Blower, Matthew Cummings | HUMAN


Glassblowing is almost choreographed. If you don’t move beautifully with the material, you can’t make beautiful glass. You can force
it to become what you want it to be, but it’s going to capture those hesitations. I’m a good dancer with glass. For the first ten years of my career, I was
a fulltime gallery artist. Being fortunate enough to be successful was fantastic, but it’s very, very literally feast or famine. I was in residency and I realized
that to keep going, you’re going to have to do something besides sell the sculpture, which
sells every few months. There was a group of like six of us that were
part of a bottle share club. One of my friends leaned over to me and he was, like, “Matthew, you should make us a beer glass!” And I made the Hoppy Glass tailored to each person’s
handprint, literally cutting their handprint out of the glass so that it fits like a glove. I mean, this is fantastic. One of my friends was like “This is pretentious as [BLEEP]! This is so pretentious.” I thought it was perfect. And it’s weird to think about how rewarding a $35 beer glass is versus a $6,000 sculpture, but I can get those in people’s
hands. I can give people access to something artistic and something creative, something
well made, which is really, really hard with a handmade craft. The hard part about American Lager Glass is making a glass that can elevate a beverage
that we interact with on a daily basis. There’s so many different people
that drink that beverage. How do I approach designing something that everyone’s going to appreciate? It’s one of
the things that make my glassware very unique, is thinking about how the beer drinker’s going
to interact with them, how it fits in their hand, how it feels, what happens as their
drinking it. TIM: I think the vessels you serve food
and drinks in are not only important because the way they look, but they’re also important
about the way they make the food or the drink taste. You know, when you pair up with somebody
that can make any glass that you want, you can have all these different shapes and vessels
until you finally get the one that makes it taste, smell, flow, carry – all at the same
time – right and that’s really cool. I have huge respect for brewers.
I mean that is a craft and an art form as well. When we pour a lager into this glass,
it has all of these undulations that feel great in your hand. It’s ergonomic. It feels
fantastic. You see color variation in it. It’s almost like a Rothko painting when you
fill it up and that’s something where you pour a beer into it and you stop and you look at
it and you hold it up to the light and you’re like, “This is a gorgeous experience.” Sometimes I design something for the flavor
profile and the experience at the same time. It’s like the Aromatic Glass with the mountain
on the inside, that creates extra surface tension. So it’s a design element that looks
beautiful, seeing this mountain emerging out of beer, but while you’re drinking it,
it keeps the head maintained and it ensures that you get a great aroma experience. This one works for the hoppy beers so I drink my hoppy beers out of this,
and you know, the glassware makes a difference. It intensifies the experience. Well, it’s a question I get asked a lot, “how long does it take you make this?” I tell them 10 years. 10,000 hours, where you’re sweating, where you’ve cut yourself, and you’re just
repeating, practicing, practicing. That’s boring. That’s not very sexy, but that’s what
it takes. After those ten years, you can make it right every time within ten minutes. Glassblowing was invented by
the Romans in 50 B.C. Same tools, same techniques,
and it’s a very unforgiving medium. At best you have a 15 second window between success and failure. If you’re working
on a piece for an hour, at 59 minutes – you can make a mistake and the piece dies, the
piece breaks and it’s gone. You can’t fix it. You can’t save it. [GLASS BREAKING] So the first step in glassblowing is melting glass. Throw that in at about 50 pounds at a time. The furnace that we have is about
350 pounds of glass. For a batch to fine out and become a high quality glass, it has to hit 2,350 degrees…crazy hot! At this point, we grab the blowpipe and we’re going
to insert that into the furnace, quickly turning it. And this is gathering up molten glass. We come out, we do some shaping and then we pop a bubble into it. It lets us create a wall that now we can start shaping into a beer glass. When you open the furnace door, it is such an intense experience. You either love it or you hate it.
If you don’t start to start to smile and you don’t walk towards it, then you’re never
going to be a glass artist. I grew up in Albany, Kentucky, a farming town,
one stop light. Being an artist in rural Kentucky, you just don’t do that. I had no idea how I was going
to make a living. I didn’t even know if that was possible, but I don’t know what I am without
glass, you know. [TORCH FIRING] We’ve been through a lot to get to where he is now, and if everybody could do something they loved
like that every single day, I mean, the sacrifices are worth it.
The fact that he didn’t have any handouts and built it literally all himself, I think,
is going to be pretty impressive to Logan when he gets older and can understand it. I love glass. I am still just as captivated
now as I was, maybe more captivated because finally after 15 years of working with the
material, there’s freedom. I have no interest in doing anything else until I die.


26 thoughts on “Expert Glass Blower, Matthew Cummings | HUMAN

  1. i like how passionate he is about his craft, i dunno but i think it's sexy if a guy is that passionate and dedicated about his dream.

  2. I own one of his glasses and ordered 2 more today! He does some amazing work and they're such high quality

  3. Glassblowing was not invented by the Romans. It was being done about a thousand years earlier in the Middle East.

  4. Very gorgeous keep it stellar more power good health happiness prosperity safe travels God bless always<3<3<3 ^|;"> Kat Cummings

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