Fire in the glass: Glassblowing studio opens in Minturn
Special to the Daily
If you go …
What: Belgrad Studio Grand Opening.
When: Saturday, June 17, 4 p.m.
Where: 1040 Main Street, Unit B, Minturn.
More information: Kirby Cosmo’s will be catering, there will be live glassblowing demonstrations and glass pieces for sale. Visit www.facebook.com/drinkingvessels.
in an unassuming space in the building that also houses Jerry Sibley Plumbing in Minturn, magic is happening.
Blobs of molten glass are enduring a trial by fire, being shaped by a steady hand before the final product is created. Glass blower Ben Belgrad is opening his studio this weekend in conjunction with the Minturn Market, creating an opportunity to showcase his work and illustrate the mesmerizing art of glass blowing.
Playing with fire
Belgrad’s entry into glassblowing came after winning a hand-blown bong in a raffle. His interest in the art was piqued; he apprenticed with the two artists that created his prize and continued to hone his craft. A move to New York and almost eight years later, he’s remained passionate about glass blowing. Though he still makes pipes, his focus has expanded into other containers: cups, to be exact.
His company, Drinking Vessels, focuses on production standard cups: juice glasses, water glasses, etc. Each is hand-blown, but they are uniform; it’s easy to imagine them lined up neatly in a cupboard or sitting at the head of a place setting.
At the bottom of each glass, a disc of color is imbued in the base. These colors — blue, green, pink and orange — correlate to a different charity, with a portion of each sale donated to help feed the hungry or plant trees. It’s a work in progress: Look for a new color (and charity) to be added soon with the ultimate goal being a charity paired with every color of the rainbow.
But Belgrad’s work doesn’t stop there. In addition to the drinking glasses, he also creates art pieces and displays his work in shows across the country, in addition to buying and selling work from other artists. From an intricately designed dodecahedron glass decanter to substantial goblets with whimsical stems, the range of creativity that can be expressed through glass is impressive.
A destination for artists
While Belgrad is understandably excited to open his own studio for the first time in his career, this space in Minturn is bigger than one man.
“A big part of this space will also be hosting other artists,” Belgrad said.
He’s creating spaces for artists to rent and plans to offer guest spots to other artists so they can come and work in the valley. Glass blowing requires very specialized tools and equipment — it’s not like other professions where the only things need to work on the road are a power outlet and Wi-Fi. The opportunity to work in a place like the Vail Valley is an enticing one.
“A lot of glassblowers like to ski and snowboard and mountain bike and stuff like that, and there is not a public glass studio in the Vail Valley,” Belgrad said. “That means that if a glass blower comes here on vacation with their family, they can’t blow glass and work. I have now created a destination for glass blowers because they can come here and do a ski trip or a snowboard trip or whatever and still have access to work, which really makes a vacation possible for someone in my field.”
Though the studio will not be open to the public on a daily basis, Belgrad said that he’d like to offer classes, host demonstrations and create other learning opportunities in the studio at some point in the future.
To Market, to market …
Belgrad will be launching his new studio and showcasing his work at the Minturn Market this summer, which launches today. In addition to his pieces on display and for sale in the booth, Belgrad said that there would also be pieces from other artists for sale. For those who are looking to stock a kitchen or pick up a new favorite display piece, Belgrad is offering an incentive to attend the market.
“I’m planning on offering my work at wholesale prices at the market,” he said “A lot of stuff will be available for half price, to incentivize clientele from the Front Range to come out here. If they come and buy from me in person at the market, it’ll be less than what’s on the website or in a gallery.”
The grand opening for the studio will take place on today at 4 p.m. and will continue into the night. Kirby Cosmo’s is catering, there will be live glassblowing demonstrations and additional glass pieces will be for sale.
To see what Belgrad is up to in his Minturn glass-blowing studio, follow Drinking Vessels on Facebook.