I’ve been collecting from Porter Glass for about a year now, and have been watching him blow glass since he began in 2015. It’s an understatement to say I like his work – in fact, he’s probably my favorite glassblower on the scene. Porter Glass reminds me of a dedicated Samurai, focused on his family & his craft, and is grateful for his fan following and those who support his work. For me, I also love how dedicated he is to creating flawless works of art. Porter brings sculptured figures to life through the medium of glass. I love the fact that he makes animals that most anyone would find cute, similar to a baby puppy or kitten. Another cool thing Porter does is he incorporates music to accompany the showcasing of glass he makes. I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Porter some questions about glassblowing and his style. Let’s hear what the man himself has to say.
How long have you been blowing glass? How did you get started in glassblowing, and where did the interest in pursuing the craft of glassblowing stem from?
I’ve been blowing glass since January 2015, so about five and a half years now. I was a collector at first with a growing interest in the possibilities of glass art. Sculpted pieces were my favorite. I loved the designs and characters artists were coming up with and, of course, the fact that they were functional. I often contemplated on what it would take to create them. One day I met up with Hendy to buy a piece off him. He mentioned that he worked for No Stress Glass, a production company that did apprenticeships. I had no idea where I could try blowing glass and hardly any knowledge about the process, so I figured it would be a good opportunity. The apprenticeship was unpaid, but I was able to be in a shop where I could learn a ton by just being observant. At first, they taught me how to make a pipe and how to make it right. This was great because learning some fundamentals started a good foundation that helped me in the long run. I worked for No Stress for a little less than two years before they decided to shut down. I was shit out of luck, I didn’t have any of my own equipment and had no idea how I could continue to work. At this point, Hendy was generous enough to take me in as his apprentice, I was stoked! He loaned me some equipment until I could acquire my own and helped me to understand and build the designs I was envisioning. I continue to work in a shop with Hendy and two other AZ artists, Steve H and Friday.
You often accompany music while showcasing your work- how does music impact you during the process of creating your work?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. I enjoy exploring the ways it can take my mind on a journey and the feelings it can give me. I add music in videos of my work to sometimes match the mood of the piece or just to further express myself. It’s a fun process to find a song to match and it often leads me to discovering new stuff. Funny enough, I hardly listen to music while I work and will opt to work in silence most of the time. So it mainly has more of an impact on the initial process of developing an idea and not so much while I’m actually making a piece.
I notice you focus on creating animal sculptures that are functional pieces – can you speak more about your passion for animals and the animal kingdom?
Animals are fascinating and I feel they can give a lot of inspiration when it comes to art. My goal is to develop a fun, toy-like, cartoony style and so I figured that animals were a good place to start. I’d like to create my own characters as well but making animals is a pretty enjoyable process. I can explore my own style while also using guidelines that distinguish the animal.
Your work also speaks to pop culture – how have various characters from entertainment, such as Super Mario and anime characters, influenced your work thus far?
My work is heavily inspired by video games, cartoons, toys and comics. It’s just all the stuff that I enjoyed growing up. When I think of the style I want to develop, I imagine putting it next to the styles that inspire me the most. Like maybe in a classic Nintendo game or as a sidekick in an anime or maybe up on a shelf, like a collectible toy. I just want to create fun characters and designs that maybe spark a little nostalgia.
You work in a warehouse with other glassblowers. How does this impact and affect you as a glassblower?
I think it’s great that I’m able to work in a shop with other people. I don’t own a house yet, so I don’t have the option to work from home. And with all of us contributing, we’re able to rent a pretty nice spot. I would probably be fine working alone but there are some good benefits to working with the right people. At the shop, we bounce ideas off each other and can give a different point of view when it comes to building a piece. It’s hard to be lazy and slack when the people next to you are crushing it, so we all stay pretty motivated. Collaborations will usually go pretty smoothly since we understand how the other person works and what our strong points are. We can be brutally honest critiques because we truly want each other to succeed and are never envious of one another. It’s also convenient if you ever need to borrow a rod of color, a tool or just need an extra pair of hands to help on a project. So, all together working with other glass blowers has had a pretty positive impact on my career.
How does the process of creating a piece of glass break down for you?
The process usually starts with breaking the piece down into its basic shapes. I then start to slowly build the piece in my head while applying some basic rules I’ve learned through experience. This gives me just a general idea, things will surely change as I begin to actually make it. I hardly believe I could ever execute a piece perfectly the first time, not just because of the difficulty but because I feel there’s always room for improvement. So if I like the design, I’ll surely try it again. For this reason, I usually keep a basic recipe in my head so the design stays somewhat consistent. Though, I’ll continue to always look for ways I can improve the design or increase efficiency.
What other influences do you pull from when creating and working on glass?
I really enjoy looking at toys and fun cartoon-like characters. I break designs down and look at aspects of them that I could maybe apply to improve my own work. Almost everyday I feel I’m looking at things that I could make functional and bring to life in my own style.
How do you see glass blowing as a community and art evolving in the years to come?
I see the community only growing larger as cannabis continues to be legalized and as artists continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with glass. All the time I see the same spark of excitement from new collectors that I experienced years ago when I first found heady glass. So I know the craft will continue becoming more appreciated as a form of art and more widely accepted in the years to come.
Dietrich Dash is a local to Arizona, born in September of nineteen eighty-eight, in the town of Scottsdale. He enjoys listening to the Rolling Stones, Queens of the Stone Age, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem. In his free time, you can see him at local bookstores, hiking or hanging out in public areas with his chihuahua mix and pugs. He also frequents dispensaries across the valley in search of what the valley has to offer medicinally.