This article appears in Volume 4 – Issue 3 of SKUNK Magazine.
WELCOME to SKUNK Magazine’s Masters of Glass tour. Join Sparky and me during the next year as we indulge in some of the culture’s finest examples of smokeable glass art (a modern expression of traditional glass sculpting that’s actually older than paper). Any corporate stoner mag can throw down high-resolution borosilicate eye candy. But we’ll go behind the scenes with the glass community’s true Top Dogs, learning what makes them tick—and feasting our eyes on the results of some of their trippiest torch techniques.
The North American glass renaissance, that began 27 years ago with Deadhead glass pipe pioneer Bob Snodgrass, continues with a new generation of young masters. Epitomized by California’s Dustin Revere, Indiana’s Brent Thackery and Ontario’s Keith Wong, glass culture continues to increase in popularity and influence—despite 2003’s Operation Pipe Dreams and a sagging war economy in the States.
Marin County, California, is a powerfully influential environment for aspiring artists within the counter culture. The home of the Grateful Dead and an international epicenter for medical marijuana and non-traditional lifestyles, the San Francisco Bay area continues to serve as a magnet for artists of all media.
One visionary artist has brought together earnest students and celebrated masters to encourage a transfer of skills as the creative sparks fly—in this case, from the GTT and Carlisle torches populating the stations of his Berkeley studio. Thirty-one-year-old Dustin Revere, along with wife Rita, in 2006 founded one of the most progressive centers for lampworking education in North America: Revere Glass School.
A Blend of Two Cultures
This hip new glass school is unique for many reasons, but mostly because it blends workshops in traditional glass sculpting, with those for modern, smokeable pieces. “I’ve studied both sides,” said Rita Revere during an interview from her studio, “It’s just such a blessing to learn all these techniques and be able to incorporate them into my own ideas.”
“I try to study everything, from marbles, to pipes, to Venetian goblets,” she continued, explaining that she doesn’t differentiate between pipe and traditional styles. “It’s all just technique. If I’m watching a pipe demonstration, I don’t think of it as something I can use only on pipes.”
Master Blower Dustin Revere
Dustin Revere is somewhat of an ambassador within the world of lampworking; continually striving to attract masters from around the world to teach at his school. “All of our teachers are working artists who are nationally or internationally known,” said Revere. This gives students of his school an advantage in that they learn not only heady moves, but also the classic techniques handed down by generations of Venetian masters.
Avoiding a particular niche, specialty item, or trademark style, Revere makes everything he can imagine, from ornate goblets and lampshades, to dildos and psychedelic marbles. “I like the process of blowing glass. I’m not really all about the finished work. It’s nice, but it’s really pretty when you’re making it,” he said.
Revere’s motivation seems to emanate from his karmic pay-it-forward attitude, derived at least in part from his Rastafarian spirituality. He shows genuine excitement when the topic arises of how many students will eventually have learned life-changing skills at his school. Despite the heavily talented glass wizards walking the floors of his school’s studios on any given day, Revere manages to maintain a humility with his own work.
“Every time I blow glass, I think about how lucky I am to do it and that so few people throughout time have been able to blow glass,” he said. “We’re lucky to be in a renaissance of glass blowing. If I can do what I love for a living and feed my family, I’ve got it made, you know?”
Advanced Level Workshops
Revere Glass School is most known for its advanced level workshops, each of which runs four to five days and costs about $600. While most of Revere’s students are regional, aspiring blowers from as far as Japan have attended workshops at the Berkeley facility.
Forget the traditional classroom. Revere is strictly hands-on and the only glass school in the nation that openly teaches blowing smokeable pieces. The school encourages students and teachers to interact without barriers, allowing blowers to learn by doing, gaining life-long skills. “We offer classes on such a level that teachers participate in them and learn while they’re here,” said Revere.
Brian Saccomano, a blower from San Jose, has been attending workshops at Revere since it opened two years ago. “Seeing so many different blowing styles has been more than I could imagine,” said Saccomano during a phone interview, emphasizing how workshops at Revere have dramatically affected his blowing style. “I do a lot more than just pipes now. I’m trying to get into sculpting. Anything I can do to apply some of the stuff that I’ve learned in the workshops,” he said.
Revere is one of those eclectic environments in which students become teachers, teachers become pupils and traditional boundaries meld—similar to the hot, oozing borosilicate that brings these uber-talented glass artists together in the first place.
To learn more about the Revere Glass School or enroll in one of its many workshops, visit www.revereglass.com.