It’s been little more than two years since Glass Axis moved its studio from Grandview Heights to Franklinton and already the venerable studio has become a staple of the burgeoning arts scene in on the west bank of the Scioto River.
The studio has become a fixture on the gallery and arts crawl every second Friday of the month for the Franklinton Fridays.
Erinn Bessler, a studio artist who also manages the gallery and office, said guests are treated to either an artist talk or glass-blowing demonstrations during the Friday monthly events.
“Folks are welcome to stop in and watch,” she said. “Glass blowing has a magical quality to it.”
When the studio began considering relocation, members and trustees heeded the call of city planners who were eager to attract artists and the creative class to the vacant primarily industrial spaces in the eastern part of the Franklinton neighborhood.
“Columbus has been trying to revitalize Franklinton and are making a movement to make this an arts district, so when we found this great space down here it just seemed like the perfect place,” Bessler said.
Serendipitously, she added, the owners of the property housing the studio at 610 W. Town St. are firefighters.
Educating studio visitors is the organization’s primary mission and it takes seriously this aim.
“We find that offering these First Experience workshops and in-person demonstrations help people understand how much training, how much skill goes into making a glass kitchen cup,” Bessler said. “And when they stop to think about, ‘oh, these furnaces are enormous and are consuming lots of utilities,’ they can put it together that there’s a lot going into that $25 cup.”
A big difference from the mechanically produced glass sold at Walmart for only $2, she added.
One of the most surprising concepts studio guests typically walk away with, Bessler noted, is that handmade was the norm for the greater part of the medium’s history.
“People are really surprised to see it done by hand and, then, when we start talking about the history of glass and explaining to them that 150 years ago everything glass was made by hand using these processes — that’s usually a mind blowing concept,” she said. “Every light bulb was handblown; every window pane was hand blown.
“That’s usually a fascinating idea for people to ponder.”
Bessler compares the process to the same artistic preparation musicians and dancers undertake.
“It’s a very process oriented,” she said. “With most glass blowing, you’re either working with a partner or a team, so all of you have to be on the same page and coordinated.”
There’s no putting down the brush and palette, taking a break or fixing mistakes.
“Glass blowing is much more like, you get one shot from start to finish,” Bessler continued. “If it didn’t go right, you do it again from start to finish.”
In just a week-and-a-half, the studio marks its 30th anniversary with an annual fundraiser and ’80s themed party.
Glassquerade 2017 is expected to transport party-goers back to the time period of the studio’s founding.
Bessler said the studio has booked local favorite The Reaganomics for the event, which is expected to culminate in a glass fashion show.
Tickets are still available at the studio’s website at glassaxis.org.