Visiting artist studios is always a special event. To be invited into someones personal space that is dedicated to creativity and construction is like lifting the veil to another world that is seen by only a precious few. When the artist gives you a tour of their artwork, it’s as if you are witness to an extraordinary event, seeing with your own eyes the process that one goes about putting together the objects for which they are known. Having the opportunity to learn about an artists work straight from the source and educating yourself on the ways that an artist is able to interpret the world around them is a rare insight into the art world.
Lately, I have had the extreme fortune of visiting the glass studio of Zach Puchowitz, who is at the head of the pack of the underground functional glass sculpture art movement. As this is a new field of art that I am beginning to merge into, I didn’t quite know what to expect. However, crossing the threshold into Zach’s studio was certainly an eye opening experience.
Upon my first steps into the space, I was greeted by a huge kiln with it’s lid open, almost like a monstrous beast with it’s mouth agape. The welcoming machinery acted as an icebreaker for the amazing equipment that lay beyond. Further into the space, my eyes didn’t know where to focus, as I was overwhelmed by more kilns, furnaces, work stations, tools and glass tubing that was all neatly arranged and organized around the circumference of the studio. He had complete set ups for both Borosilicate glass as well as Soft glass and was eager to explain to me what the different materials were and how they relate to his process as well as their intended functionality. Glass tubes of a myriad of colors were all neatly sorted on racks for easy access, as if they were pigments on a painters pallet. He had a carpeted table top, full of prototypes, test subjects and assemblage pieces awaiting transfer onto larger works of art. His workbench was massive, consisting of multiple work stations, each equipped with it's own individual kiln, fully outfitted to accommodate a number of artists. He frequently puts all that space to good use, inviting other top glass sculptors from around the world to work along side him for collaborative art projects. In the middle of all the space, away from the machinery and acting as an island, is a single desk where he can take a moment away from the maddness to sketch out designs before re-immersing himself back into the heat of glass blowing.
This is a space that is constantly in motion, yet operating at a flow and pace all it’s own. Few things happen quickly in glass blowing, as each step is methodically pondered over while the pieces are “in play”, which means that the glass is at an appropriate temperature to manipulate in order to reduce the chances of stressing the material that would cause it to crack or shatter. Zach is constantly thinking about each step well ahead of its execution, creating a list in his head that includes the next five, ten or even twenty motions that he will need to make in order to achieve his ultimate vision. Glass blowing is an unforgiving art form and one missed step or careless movement could destroy days or even weeks worth of work, as the pieces are seldom repairable after a mishap.
Learning about glass blowing from one of the best in the industry within his environment was an absolutely amazing experience and it opened my eyes to the complex nature of the art form. It has provided me with a new found respect for his craft and taught me that one must be patient, critical, methodical and precise when attempting to create art from glass. Zach Puchowitz leads by example and his studio is testament to his creative endeavors. It’s no wonder that he is one of the top names in his genre and his artistic output is second to none. The cleanliness and organization of his studio reflect his mental approach to his art, as he is constantly keeping all aspects of his career “in play”, plotting and building one step at a time while focusing on the bigger picture.