Glassblowing requires an incredible amount of skill, discipline and learning on the job. It’s the kind of job that’s best learned by doing. A textbook will help, but it will only get you so far. You need to learn from other seasoned experts and have access to the tools and facilities to hone your craft.
With that in mind, Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Art felt like the ideal place for our inaugural release of Art Force Academy for artist entrepreneurs. Like any artistic endeavor, Art Force Academy began elementally as a simple idea until the right people and resources aligned to make it a reality. Sand. Heat. Tools. Opportunity… Art.
It all starts with a vision and if you are passionate, the rest will follow. We saw the metaphor, and after speaking with our March Artist of the Month, Alli Luhmann, the fire was lit.
Through the Looking Glass
Since the artist entrepreneur program is dedicated to providing real world business planning skills for artists, we thought where better to start than in the studios, galleries and rock gardens where Minneapolis’ finest artists come to meet and share their craft.
The passion at Foci was palpable. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Foci, let’s just say it’s aptly named. “Foci” is plural for focus, meaning “the center of interest or activity” by definition. For glass artists in the Minneapolis area, that is a dead ringer.
Glassblowing: A Crucible for Creation
First off, Foci is a Nonprofit Charitable & Educational Organization – Section 501(c)(3). By definition, doesn’t that already make them awesome? Beyond that, they offer membership and a reservation system to artists who want to blow glass without breaking, or should we say, shattering the bank.
As art forms go, glassblowing can be rather expensive – not just the equipment and material costs, but consider the energy costs as well – so this model seems virtuous and wise. For beginners who could not justify investing in the materials without experience, it provides a gateway to a new future.
The way the facility is laid out, it’s clearly all about the craft. It’s a place designed to lend a hand to others. With four glory holes, a fully equipped cold shop, mold shop, kiln shop, torch shop and neon shops, the studio has the capacity to address anyone’s glassblowing needs. As Luhmann mentioned in a chat with Art Force, members are quick to offer advice and critiques when a teachable moment arises. This uplifts the entire community and creates an environment for sharing and learning together.
What We Learned
If you haven’t taken time to visit a local glassblowing studio, you really should. While any place dedicated to art generally has a strong and distinct vibe, the energy in a glass studio is hard to match. They are the kinds of places where commitment meets investment and where creativity goes to smolder, bend, flex, transform and eventually cool into something miraculous.
At Foci, we learned the best stories start right on the studio floor. As enjoyable as strolling through a gallery of finished art is – which we can all agree it truly is – there is something special about witnessing the artistic process first-hand. It’s far easier to get a feel for the amount of passion and work that goes into creating something when one is actually present during the creation. Each tool, material or kiln is just an object – a means to an end. But together, they create new possibility. The glass becomes an end in itself. It’s something artist’s like Luhmann need in their lives. Not for sales, though that is always good and most welcome. But for something far deeper, more therapeutic, that’s fused deeply to their core.
With limitations of only imagination and the human spirit, studios like Foci are the kinds of places where alchemy happens – where anything can be woven into proverbial gold. We can’t thank Foci enough for the opportunity to spend a day in their world. A very special thanks to Alli Luhmann for guiding us through her craft and world!
The Heat is On
Think about anything you do that’s worth doing. Does it take time? Can “just anyone” do it? Or does it take years of honing, training, breaking and fixing to get things into presentable shape? Then ask yourself, if it was easy to do – a hop, skip and a jump away – would you feel half as satisfied when you achieved your goal? We hope to each of you, the journey is just as important as the destination and that is really the spirit of Art Force Academy in its first year of operation.
To turn the page on this first chapter in Art Force Academy’s budding history, we remind ourselves that this community won’t build itself. Like the craft of glassblowing, we will need the help and insights of others to fine-tune our offerings. We will need focus, the proper tools, and a passion for what we’re doing.
Thank you to everyone who has made Art Force Academy possible so far and please stay tuned for more from our journey through the art community with Art Force Academy courses and materials to come! Remember, the Art Enthusiast program is a no strings attached approach to learning the latest and greatest from the world of art. If the information we’re bringing you is of value, please sign up, sit back, and enjoy the weekly updates from Art Force Academy.