This is Mikey blowing glass. It's been a while since he's really been able to put the amount of time into it as he would like. I wish he could just quit his job and blow glass for a living. It's hard to find people willing to rent out studio space for lamp working because they see the torch and flip. Most landlords are wary that the place could get burned down. The reality of that is occurring is bleak. You can see in the pic that the wall behind the torch is fireproof drywall, as is the table upon which the torch sits covered in firewall. And if the floor and walls are cement, it would be tough to burn it down with that little torch. Hopefully one day in the near future we will be able to make a studio space on property of our own. Our goal is to open a head shop/porn shop (sex and drugs are always in vogue).
Mikey more or less taught himself to blow glass. He knew a few kids that were into it and they showed him a few tricks but not much more. It's an expensive hobby so people don't really want to share their supplies and equipment for free. Years ago we had pretty good cash flow because we worked full-time and had some "supplemental income". So during that time we were able to buy him all the stuff he needed to get started, like his torch, a few simple tools, an instruction video, clear glass tubes, some colored glass rods, oxygen and propane. At first he set up a little studio in a big closet we had in a place we rented in Springfield, Vermont. That didn't really last long because the wicked old lady who lived next door called the fire dept. complaining about a scary flame shooting out our window. That was obviously an exaggeration, as the flame doesn't really ever reach more than a foot and a half, I'd say (keep in mind, though, that all I can make are small beads; so I'm not by any means the glass blowing pro. I'm writing only from the memory of what I have seen). Regardless of flame size, we were far from within town fire codes. We did want to avoid problems as Springfield is a small VT town and cops are not open-minded even in the green mountains. So Mikey started driving almost daily to Dover, about forty-five minutes away, to blow glass at a friend's house. Really they just turned a large tool shed in the back yard into a studio. But that went on for a while.
Then our apartment in Springfield was broken into (okay, I know it sounds like that happens a lot. It does. But when you are nice and trusting, but you associate with other addicts, and house desirable items - it's a no brainer). By the way, I've already looked into security systems for our new apartment and ADT looks good, and cheap. We lost a lot of shit that time, too. We ended up owing a lot of money - but we paid it all back, every dollar. Anyway, we moved to a house down in the Dover/Mt. Snow area. Mike's friend, Tom ,and his girlfriend were living in a big, 4 br house and they had a huge studio area in the basement. That is probably the time in Mikey's life that he blew the most glass ever, and his best glass work ever was then. Tom was probably the best instruction he received thus far, besides a workshop in Jersey. They just stayed up all night blowing glass for twelve, eighteen hours at a time. But we didn't stay there very long before we moved to our own place a bit closer to Brattleboro (closer and closer we get to the current rut). I didn't really get along well w/Tom. I thought he was filthy, careless and lazy. He thought I was stuck-up and not "punk rock" enough.
That's when we moved to Newfane. That is likely the nicest place we ever rented. Structurally, the house was questionable. But inside it was all smooth, golden wood and Spanish tiles. It had huge windows and marble counter-tops and a wood stove and deck. I loved living there and it was only $800/mo. I would have tried to buy that place if they had stayed in Bulgaria. While we lived there, Mike blew glass in a shop in downtown Brattleboro. His friend, Martin, rented a large garage/shop on a side street and he let Mike use a corner. That situation lasted a while - it was Martin's girlfriend who had just moved out of the apartment we moved into in Bratt. Martin ran a big metal business w/his dad out of Jersey. Mike & him had met while M was in college at Marlboro. After he graduated, M would still drive up here every weekend and he and Mike traded metal for a while and made some good money. But one thing led to another and we got him to start using dope and because we all made good money it was just too easy to get and things got crazy. I think one day he must have just looked at himself and been like, "what the hell am I doing?"; because he just baled. Maybe he didn't know how else to get away from it all, I don't know. But we haven't talked to him since before we got clean.
After that, we briefly rented a garage in this big industrial complex. We wanted to have an open studio and eventually serve customers out of there. But we had just started stockpiling glass from other artists and we had a bunch of porn and sex toys and stuff for when we finally opened a legit store....and..you probably guessed it already....that was broken into. I think of the three times we've been robbed, that time may have been the only one that was random. Before we were really set-up people heard we sold glass through word of mouth and people started randomly showing up looking to buy pieces. So it could have been anyone who had stopped by or maybe it was someone we knew. Who knows? What always annoying is that although we may have shady pasts, we really don't socialize much. I mean, very few people come over our place or even know where we live. So in the other cases, there is no doubt about who the thief is. But I believe in karma and fully believe that those people will get what's coming to them. I really hope for their sake that whatever they stole was worth what they'll end up paying for it. Of course I always feel violated and angry at first, then I remember it's part of the game I play. Money comes and goes and in the end each moment is but a blip. Perhaps my nonchalance perpetuates the problem but it keeps me from being exceptionally bitter and violent. I added some pics of his work at the bottom of this blog (I tried anyhow, my intentions were good). Check it out.