January 26, 2021
People that are watching the glassblowing ask me this all the time - "What got you into this?". Or "What made you decide to do this?"
Well, there was no grand plan. Vicki and I moved out here in 2001 from Wisconsin, once our youngest graduated from high school. We've been fortunate all along that we're both in health care (pharmacist and registered nurse), so finding a job has never been too difficult. There had been a pharmacist job advertised for at the hospital in Newport, OR, so I pursued it.
For some time after we moved here, we made all the usual tourist stops. Of course, a couple of them were at glassblowing shops. It was fascinating to watch, and always made me wonder whether I'd be able to do it. In 2003, Pyromania Glass in South Beach, OR, started offering lessons - not the one-time "blow your own" thing, but hourly, one-on-one lessons. We both jumped at the opportunity, though Vicki soon concluded that it was too much heat for her. Andrea Schmitz was our instructor, and I even got to work a couple time with her father, Dennis, the founder of the business. They wanted to only do lessons, though, and not rent out time on their equipment. It was time to move on to the next stage if I wanted to keep doing it.
They referred me to Larry Sommer, a renowned glass fuser that decided to also set up a small glassblowing studio in his shop in Toledo, OR. The equipment had been mothballed, but we got it up and running again, and I was able to get some solid time in with the glass. This was my first opportunity to work solo, and it provided me with the experience I needed to decide whether to get more serious about it. I'll be forever indebted to Larry for the opportunity.
It was while I was working at Larry's that I started thinking seriously about having my own shop. Doing something creative after decades of being in a highly structured, rule/law-oriented profession was a revelation. I think I experienced what I've seen referred to as "unbottling" (at least in Stephen King's "Duma Key"), and I had a strong compulsion to keep blowing glass. I wasn't getting as much time in at Larry's as I would've liked, so Vicki and I agreed to start looking for a place to move to that could accommodate that.
We found our current property in Seal Rock in 2005. It had a nice shed on it that would work for a studio, though not much else. I've always given Vicki a lot of credit with putting up with that. But, we got the studio running by the end of that year, and I was able to go all out.
Note: The photo above is my first studio space. Nothing is connected yet, but just seeing this brings back the excitement of the time.