The Fun of Outdoor Demo's
Updated: May 6, 2019
Glass is challenging under normal circumstances. For those of us who choose to demo outside however, adding wind, rain and even snow into the mix can make for a chaotic artistic experience.
I've been blowing glass at art shows for the the better part of ten years. When I was in Chicago I had an art show usually 2-3 times a month from May till September. Since glass is difficult to explain to someone who has never seen it, I decided to start bringing glassblowing to my customers and demonstrating my craft live.
So my father and I built our portable glassblowing bench 1.0. It was just a collapsible triangle bench top with plexi-glass to keep kids away from the fire. I figured out the essentials I needed to make some flare dishes and marbles, and set up at the next show.
Within a year, we were on portable bench 2.3, and I had dealt with every effect weather can have on your torch. I had shows where the wind was so strong it was blowing my torch to an almost 90 degree angle. I blew glass in the rain, having to overheat everything so that the rain hitting my piece didn't cause an explosion. One time it even started hailing in the middle of my demo, but people were still standing waiting to see the piece finished, so finish the piece I did! Which immediately shattered as i set it on the bench for people to see.
“The art I do for demo's almost always cracks. I basically just do it for the spectacle and to show people the magic of glass. Whether the piece survives or not isn't really a concern.”
Because you rarely have electricity at art shows, I can't bring a kiln or anything to ensure my pieces survive. So most of the pieces I end up making at shows simply shatter while they sit on my bench for people to see. The more interesting the shatter, the better though as people love to see the many different ways and reasons a piece decides to shatter. This gives me another opportunity to talk about glass, and help people really understand how amazing glass really is.
Demonstrating art is usually a rewarding experience. It comes with its own challenges, but there's nothing quite like seeing and truly understanding what goes into the pieces an artist makes. Not to mention nothing helps sell work quite like understanding everything that goes into a piece. Make sure however that you're
prepared to face down all the ridiculous things that will happen if you take your show on the road.